When he returns, first there will be tears, not a feeling of happiness, – the wife of the defender of Mariupol
Olesya and Vladimir Nikolaenko/Channel 24 Collage
Olesya's husband Vladimir defended Mariupol and was surrounded by Azovstal. During this, on May 17, a phone rang in Olesya's apartment. “Good afternoon! This is a flower delivery,” the girl heard into the phone. For a long time she could not understand who did it and panicked through all the options in her mind. Olesya was waiting for a trick, but the courier forced her to accept the bouquet.
- 1″I left my job and went to the Maidan”
- 2″Everyone he named was dead, captured, or went missing after the Ilovai cauldron”
- 3″I was always looking for a job related to the protection of people”
- 4″On February 23, I packed my things and left for Mariupol. But the train did not arrive, so we walked ”
- 5I lost my phone in Mariupol. Madness began for Olesya
- 6I was at Azovstal and thought about flowers
- 7″He doesn't feel at home”
- 8″It's a job. He knows how to be at war”
- 9″I know that a thin, exhausted man will return from captivity and I will not be able to throw myself into his arms”
The girl saw the flowers, sharply pulled out a note that was between them. In a second, she was already hugging a huge bouquet. Olesya was choked with tears. The flowers were from a man who was at that time on the surrounded “Azovstal”.
“I left my job and went to Maidan”
Olesya Nikolaenko is 32 years old. She was born and lives in Zaporozhye. At first, the girl chose the profession of a land surveyor. Then at the university I met Vladimir. Then she studied in English translation and has been teaching English since 2012.
“We studied together in a group, acquaintances from the first year. Within the group we had a company – two girls and three guys. That is, we were friends at first. And somewhere from the second year we started dating because he liked me. And we together since 2008. That is, this year it will already be 14 years old,” Olesya said.
Vladimir and Olesya have been together since 2008/Photo provided by the girl
Vladimir really wanted to go to the Maidan, but he was kept by the responsible work of a land surveyor and at the same time a civil servant. He worked around the clock and watched the news at night.
“He was covered. He couldn’t look at it anymore. It was already February 2014. However, not everything is so simple when you are a civil servant. And even then we were going to live together for the first time. We planned, he was looking for an apartment. Vova worked in Berdyansk. was just the city of my dreams. I wanted to live by the sea,” says Olesya.
“Well, what is there? Do you have an apartment?”
< p dir="ltr"> I'm looking.
Do you have an apartment?
Wait . Things are bad. I'm going to Maidan.”
By that time, in 2014, Olesya had slightly different views. She says that she was not pro-Russian, but simply young and stupid. The TV was not turned on in her house and she did not understand what was happening. When turned on, satellite TV offered few Ukrainian channels, but a large selection of Russian ones.
When she wanted to find out, she turned on the First Russian Channel. And there Putin says: What are they doing there? Mess! Let's put things in order.” And I'm like this to the guy: “This is the end! Here are the thieves! Are you stupid or what? Where are you going?”. I think they would rather have dispersed them so that he would not go,” recalls Olesya.
The girl called her friends and asked to convince Volodya not to leave. However, he still quit his job and went to Kyiv.
I don't understand what's going on at all. He went to some hell. But Vova says that everyone here is cool and well done. They are not devils, the girl laughs.
Vladimir came to the Revolution of Dignity after the executions, when some began to dismantle the barricades. He gathered with people who understood that there would be a war. He told Olesya not to go to Berdyansk, because he did not want her to wait for him in a foreign city.
“I understood that he was going somewhere. He would not return quickly, because war began. At first, fate did not allow us to live together, and for years we have been fighting with it for the opportunity to be together, “says Olesya.
February 2014. The first military uniform in the life of Vladimir/Photo provided by Olesya
“Everyone he called, there were dead, in captivity, or went missing after the Ilovaisk cauldron”
Vladimir was going to war, but had a bunch of unresolved cases. Because of this, he did not get into the first composition of the military who went to the Donbass and the Luhansk region. When the man quit, he began training at the National Guard.
He came from Berdyansk in trousers, shoes, and a jacket-jacket. Here's how it worked. That is, in such an official style. And there is a photo where he is with a machine gun in these clothes. So he went to school. It was a pity to throw away the shoes, because this is already a memorable thing, – the girl said.
Volodymyr's friends managed to get into the “Black Corps”, from which the regiment of defenders of Mariupol was formed, and he ended up in the “Donbass” battalion. Relatives supported this decision, although Olesya expected more fear from them.
“I also did not refuse, probably because I was stupid and very young. I still did not understand where he was going”, she says.
As part of the “Donbass”, Vladimir left for the war in June 2014. The military liberated the cities. The man returned home in August, just before the Ilovaisk cauldron. Olesya says that he arrived very unexpectedly and was dissatisfied with the management.
“He somehow imagined everything perfectly, but something went wrong. Vova is an idealist and he just quit. He said that some of the others did the same,” Olesya recalled.
Olesya calls her husband an idealist/Photo courtesy of the editors
The girl waits and reads the news about every fight. Vladimir sends a photo of their yard. Olesya does not understand anything, looks out the window and sees her beloved, who is walking through the yard in military uniform with a backpack, to which a blue and yellow flag is tied.
It was the only surprise in my life that I didn’t calculate, because when he cooks something, it’s all on his face. After such an incident, I have a strange reaction to the window – even if I know for sure that Vova is not in the city, I still look. Because all of a sudden? – says Olesya.
After the Ilovai cauldron, many of Vladimir's brothers died. Some went missing, some were taken prisoner. The husband and wife came to the self-defense office in Zaporozhye, where the military from Donbass applied. Vladimir asked about all the brothers he remembered.
“Everyone he named was either dead, or in captivity, or missing. This was really the first blow for me too. We have never lost so many familiar people. This war could not let him go when he had lost so much,” says the girl.
“Always looking for a job related to protecting people”
Throughout the autumn of 2014, Vladimir was at home with Olesya. Even tried to find a job, was a little confused. I could not resist and left for the war for the second time in the winter.
“I insisted on one thing – we live together, looking for work. But he already talked with friends who were in the regiment of the defenders of Mariupol. While I build a family in my imagination, he says:” I'm going to the regiment, “” the girl says.
Already on February 14, Vladimir sent a photo where he is at the base. The next day, the Pavlopol-Shirokinsky offensive operation begins, and he immediately breaks into unrest.
When the Minsk negotiations began in September and the military was not allowed to the front line, the service turned into seats. Looks like there wasn't even training. People who were constantly in battles, within the four walls, were slowly going crazy. – explains Olesya.
The military was promised that by 2016 something would become clear. However, Vladimir decided that since he could not be useful, he needed to return home. Adaptation began, post-traumatic stress disorder, a year of searching for oneself. He experienced all this with Olesya.
“It seems that we had far from the most difficult case. Then he was called to the police to work. Since then, he has always been looking for work related to protecting people. The war opened up potential in him, showed his mission,” the girl said.
The man likes the work associated with saving people/Photo provided by Olesya
Vladimir was not injured all the time. The war affected his patience and sense of brotherhood. Olesya says that the latter especially manifested itself after serving in the regiment of the defenders of Mariupol. When the man returned, he had two families. The military dispersed to the cities and phoned each other every day.
“There are two of us and we can’t talk, because there are 10 of them and each calls the other:“ I haven’t heard you, brother, for so long. /p>
The military shared problems among themselves. Learned to live with their new history and feelings. It seemed to Olesya that her husband had become very adult – gray hair and beard.
“It seemed to me that Vova was catching up with his father in age. That is, when they stand together, then how to take, and not father and son. Now I look at their photos, I think:“ This is 2015! How young and green my husband is,” she says.
“On February 23, I packed my things and left for Mariupol But the train didn't arrive, so we walked”
Vladimir didn't say that there would be a big war, but just the day before he quit his job. The husband did not tell Olesya about any experiences.
The whole country was talking about a possible invasion and the girl had no doubts – her beloved was thinking about the war again. Vladimir doubted and said that he did not know where his place was.
“I tell him: “Listen, what about the terrorist defense? The topic has been around for a year, and you are still not there. “I thought it would be in Zaporozhye. He went to the military registration and enlistment office, but they began to refuse him and offered to choose a combat battalion. They assured that they would take him to any,” says Olesya.
The fighters of the regiment, who had previously fought with Vladimir, asked if he was ready to return if there was a new invasion. The husband answered in the affirmative.
The military hurried to the east. They took tickets for February 24, but it was too late.
Mine didn't want to wait until morning. Packed up and left at 23:00. He managed to get to a certain settlement, but the train did not go further to Mariupol, so he and the others who were with him walked. Those who did not have time went to other cities. It looks like he needed to be there. No one did, but mine did. So it’s necessary, – said Olesya.
In the event of a war, the spouses had a plan. Olesya had to take care of her mother and Vladimir's parents. The girl took the defender to the train, and a few hours later he called and said: “Listen, I didn’t dream. It started. Explosions all over the country.”
Olesya ran to wake her mother, but her tongue was taken away from fear. With shading, she said the word “started”.
The women began to act according to the plan and collect things to leave the city. However, surprisingly, it was calm in Zaporozhye – people were heading to work, the janitor was sweeping the yard.
Vladimir reported that everything was fine with him. I did not use mobile communications, because it became dangerous, but there were Internet and instant messengers.
“I didn’t catch the Internet everywhere. I asked Vova what he was missing. He answered that there are places where he catches the network, but there are many who want to call. There are people who are not mentally ready for battles. They or their relatives were covered. To bring these people. to a normal state, they let them contact their relatives.Vova said: “There are people who need more, and you are strong,” says Olesya.
Vladimir sent brief messages to his wife/Photo provided by Olesya
I lost my phone in Mariupol. Madness began for Olesya
The man was ready to wait, even if he was very bored. However, he quickly lost his phone. For Olesya, real madness began. She received messages from unknown numbers, but could not answer. The girl found a chat in a telegram where Mariupol residents tell what is happening.
“I understand that this had a very psychological effect on me. I monitored everything around the clock. My mother and I went to visit relatives in the village. I almost never left the house. I was mentally in this chat,” the girl says.
Subsequently, Olesya decided to return to Zaporozhye. He says that at least there is a war, but you need to continue to live, earn money and help the army.
“I’m returning home and I can’t get out of it. It’s such a state when it’s good in the room, but not outside the apartment. I realized that the seat in this Mariupol chat room influenced me. then hide.” and did not perceive peace around,” the girl recalls.
It seemed to Olesya that she did not miss anything in the information space. However, Vladimir asked if she had seen the video with porridge.
“I didn’t understand what he was talking about at all. I saw a million of these videos, but there wasn’t that porridge anywhere. He said where to look. . .
Moment from the same video with porridge/Screenshot of Channel 24
She hesitated whether to publish it at home. I was afraid that people who had nothing to do with the war would not understand. The video shows a man in someone's apartment, once beautiful and whole.
“Apparently, the apartment was very good, and they are sitting on the sofa at the glass table, smoking and throwing cigarette butts on floor. It's hard for a civilian to understand. They smoke and throw cigarette butts on the floor. If someone sees their house even with broken walls and windows, it can offend,” says Olesya.
I was at Azovstal and thought about flowers
Relatives of the military reported threats. Even when Volodymyr joined the Mariupol Defenders Regiment, he and other soldiers were wearing balaclavas during the oath, and journalists were forbidden to photograph and film all relatives.
“Cases were indeed confirmed when they threatened and installed stretch marks in the entrances. Since then, I have a habit of scanning everything with my eyes when I enter the house. There can be danger when you don’t expect it when you are in the rear and it seems that everything happens only on the front line” , – says Olesya.
Therefore, the girl treats everything alien with caution. However, one day, on May 17, she received a call from a flower delivery service. They gave her exact address.
What kind of flowers when a man is in Mariupol? Everyone knows this. Very few people I know have my address. And in the delivery they called my house, my apartment. Immediately shrinks the circle of people who could do it. I understand that there is no one. No one could!, – recalls Olesya.
She did not think about her husband, because even when the lovers lived in different cities, Vladimir never sent any bouquets. Olesya decided to refuse delivery, but the courier was persistent.
The girl looked out the window. Indeed, a guy came out with a huge bouquet of flowers. Olesya did not think about the bouquet. I thought about who decided to send him. The situation seemed safe to her.
The delivery guy called the apartment. Olesya opened. I immediately asked if there was a note and tore it out of the flowers.
I read: “Thank you for every moment there. Thank you for your faith, for your support, for your courage and determination. For your sake, I am ready to hold this sky forever. ” And I understand that no one could write it except him. These are his words, although there was no signature, the girl says.
She is in a stupor. She did not understand how it happened and wanted to cry. She slammed the door on the courier. Olesya's surprised mother asked who sent the flowers. “Flowers from Vova,” the girl answered. The women had thousands of questions.
“There was no hint of a bouquet. When I was left alone, and my mother went to bed, tears poured down. I'm not even surprised how he did it technically, but what did he even think about it. You are at Azovstal “and think about flowers! It becomes scary how much this person loves you,” the girl says.
Flowers from Azovstal/Photo provided by Olesya
< p dir="ltr"> Once Vladimir wrote while in Mariupol that he had a dream. He called her Olesya.
“Suddenly something will happen to me until he returns. I don’t have the right at all! I’m afraid to go out – suddenly a car will hit you. .
Once she went to the store and it seemed to her that she might lose her phone, which means losing all contact with her husband. Olesya took the mobile in her hands and hugged her only connection to Mariupol.
“He doesn't feel at home”
Olesya was mentally prepared to lose her home. When I left the apartment on February 24, I said goodbye to her forever. I took with me only my favorite trousers, boots and a jar of my favorite soap. At one point, everything was worthless. An old mobile phone has taken on new meaning.
“It was very hard to return, because I mentally destroyed the house. I arrived, but everything was whole. I didn’t take apart the bag for a long time, didn’t wipe the dust – suddenly run away again, why waste strength? , his pajamas. However, he does not feel at home, “says Olesya.
Olesya and Vladimir traveled a lot/Photo provided by the girl
Vladimir does not think about the house. Introduces himself and Olesya while traveling. He mentally destroyed his house.
“It's good that the heart doesn't break because of the house, how much effort, money invested. This is a favorite vase, a candle. This gives a feeling of home, which I created “, adds the girl.
Spouses during the next trip/Photo provided by Olesya
< h2 class="anchor-link" dir="ltr" id="7" name="7"> “This is a job. He knows how to be at war”
Before exiting ” Azovstal” Vladimir talked with Olesya. He said – you should wait for some kind of completion, but he did not explain anything and did not prepare his wife mentally.
“I said that the denouement was close. I knew that the regiment of the defenders of Mariupol would never surrender or lay down their arms,” Olesya said.
everything will endure. He only cares that he might miss her a lot.
Vladimir at Azovstal/Photo provided by Olesya
< p dir="ltr"> When asked how Olesya endures everything, she replies that she has no other choice. Before the breakthrough at Azovstal, it was easier for her to worry about everything, because she let Vladimir go with a light heart. be at war. I was sure that in Mariupol they would simply smash everyone,” recalls Olesya.
The girl was calm until March 15. Vladimir called and said that there was a loss among his group. His voice was broken. Olesya wasn't used to hearing that. He called from hiding, and mines whistled in the background.
I thought that in the movies they make such a whistle on purpose. It seemed that the sound was specially made brighter. And here I hear it. You can hear the debris hitting the cover. The husband is distracted and from time to time shouts to the right: “Air! Air.” He speaks Ukrainian, but for some reason he shouted like that. He talks and talks and again: “Air! Air!”. The aviation danger has begun, – the girl says.
Grads, mines, shelling have already become familiar to the soldiers, but the aviation danger was new. When Olesya thought about it, she had to make an effort to even inhale or exhale. Let go when there was news from a man. Euphoria set in. Olesya reproaches herself for thinking bad things.
Olesya is confident in her husband/Photo provided by Olesya
< p dir="ltr">“Then I do something, wipe the dust. Life gets better! When I go to telegram, I look in that Mariupol chat, and they write there that they dropped a 500-kilogram bomb on Azovstal. Then I think: “If it falls on everyone, but my husband is a living person, is he sure he will save himself?”. And again you walk with this concrete slab on your chest,” the girl said.
After the evacuation, Olesya does not understand what is happening. There are no arrivals and explosions. Peace came very abruptly. She doesn't know if it's good or bad. There are only expectations of the result and at least some messages from the authorities.
“I know that a thin, exhausted man will return from captivity and I won't be able to throw myself into his arms”
The girl received a call from the Red Cross, which said that Vladimir was on the list of evacuees from Azovstal. However, Olesya is afraid of meanness on the part of the enemy and says that she cannot completely calm herself down.
“As long as we're at this state of affairs, all I can do is either give interviews, talk about the man, or look up information about PTSD and prepare for the return of the man. I have to have a plan of action,” she says.
Out of habit, Olesya looks out the window like a man. She is preparing for the meeting, but plans are constantly changing. At first I imagined everything as romantic, like in a movie.
Now I know that he will come skinny, exhausted, and I will not be able to throw myself into his arms. It's hard for us both to wait and lose heart. When we meet, there will most likely be only tears. I'm sure he'll cry too. There will be no feeling of happiness right away, – the girl says.
Olesya imagines how a man has changed, but he does not suspect what she is now. Even at the beginning of a full-scale war, she sent her photos. He says that fatigue and anxiety greatly affected his appearance.
“I think it’s necessary to paint over my gray hair, because I’m young and it shouldn’t be like that. When you eat poorly, sleep, you don’t look very good. I also swelled from tears, some kind of rashes on my body. But he doesn’t see me like that! I'm afraid that when he returns, he will understand how the expectation broke me. I already look more like an elderly woman, “she says.
Spouses Nikolaenko/Photo provided by Olesya
Olesya has a plan of action – dyed hair and a beautiful dress. She is preparing herself for renewal. When prisoners are exchanged, no one informs about this in advance. The girl is afraid that Vladimir will arrive, but she will not have time to do everything.
I think that the two of us felt that we would be captured. When he returns, I will say: “We knew everything with you.” these circles of hell had to be passed in order to finally be happy. I hope for a very cool happyend in our love story. Why did we go through this for years?” Olesya asks.