Today finishing the translation of this interview from PolitNavigator, This is basically the videotaped interrogation of a certain Ukrainian soldier named Vasily Zhemelinsky who was taken captive by the Donetsk Separatist militias.
Where we left off, the interrogator, denoted by the initials P.N. (for PolitNavigator, although this is almost certainly a military interrogator, not a reporter), was eliciting from Vasily that the Ukrainian front-line soldiers are demoralized and not very well taken care of by their commanders. All of which is factual, for anybody who has been following this conflict. Vasily did remark that the Ukrainian “patriots” are still gung-ho and willing to fight to the end. He himself does not necessarily come off as one of the “patriots” himself, but you never know. He is a captive, so he might well be dissembling.
It appears from the context, and from the questions posed, that Vasily was coached beforehand, as to the talking points he was expected to cover in the video. Including the night shellings, the demoralization, and the hopes of the rank-and-file soldiers that the war would come to an end. I mentioned already that the interrogator addresses Vasily in the familiar ты (“thou”) rather then the formal вы (“you”), as one would expect a military commander to address a subordinate, let alone a prisoner. The interrogator’s voice is disguised, he appears to be sitting in front of the prisoner, as Vasily’s eyes dart upward every time a question is addressed to him. One can hear some mumblings and even chuckles in the background, indicating that other people are present for this taping.
P.N. What is the attitude of the commanders to the rank and file?
V.Zh. Fairly normal, in principle. The commanders respect some of the servicemen, but not all of them, of course. He who is in tight with the commander, has “God in his belly”, as they say. But the others… well, you know… [yalensis: In the video, this is the first time Vasily shows a certain flash of humor, and one can even hear some chuckling in the background as well.]
P.N. I have one final question for you. On the whole, do you and your comrades want the war to come to an end, so that you can all go home; or are you ready to fight to the end, not leaving one stone on another [yalensis: see Matthew 24:2 for the citation] in the city of Donetsk? Tell me your opinion.
V.Zh. I’m just speaking for myself. I want to to get out as soon as possible. In fact, I wanted to get out back then when I switched over to being a contractor, exactly one year after enlisting. I thought my term of duty was over, but I wasn’t able to get out at that time. They told me I had to finish out my contract, and then I could get out. That’s what happened to me. I have no more desire to fight, and in principle I never actually did. I haven’t actually been in the Donbass that long. For my comrades I can say that they are all here for the money. If it wasn’t for the money, then nobody would be here.
[yalensis: In the vid there is a jump cut here, as Vasily is prepped for his final soliloquy.]
P.N. And is there anything you would like to say to those who are still serving? You have been here for some time, you can see what is going on around you, what is actually happening here.
V.Zh. True, I have seen with my own eyes. What’s going on here, what’s going on there. I would like to say simply to the guys, that life is ahead of you, it’s not worth the money, you can earn money in a civilian job, but people are dying here. I have seen many things. Donetsk is being shelled, and it’s just an ordinary civilian town, just like all the other towns. There are children living here as well. So, some little kid is walking along, a shell comes flying in, and that’s it, a life is torn apart. It’s not worth it, guys, it’s not worth doing this for the money, and hearing all the stuff that is happening. This is all just craziness. I have seen this, and I understand it now.