How a participant in a reality show came to the fore
In Russia, December 5 is celebrated as the Day of the Volunteer or Volunteer. What drives volunteers? A question to which, perhaps, there is no unambiguous answer. For someone, “saving” is a state of mind, for someone helping others is the ideology of life. They are not always understood, some even condemn them and look for a catch in every act. Others admire and cite as examples. But, one way or another, these people are among us. The MK correspondent talked with the former participant of the show “Dom-2” Natalya Khim, call sign “Wolf Mother”, who came to Donbass as a volunteer in 2014 and spent three years in the militia.
Photo: From the personal archive
“ I got into a dispute at” Dom-2 “”
This slender blonde could be more of a model or an actress – without too much flattery, I will say that her looks allow it. But for herself, she chose a different path. Looking ahead, I will note that during our conversation the question “How could this girl even end up in the war?” with a sense of pride that, despite all the political, economic and social difficulties, there are people who are ready to help those who need this help.
– It was a long time ago, in 2007. In general, I went there on a bet. Before the war, I sang a little and acted in films. My friends and I celebrated on February 23rd, and then I heard a phone call on my mobile phone with an invitation to come to the project. Friends heard, and began: “Yes, you are weak, you will not go …” Well, I went on principle. It so happened that other participants voted for me, and I stayed. Only a few days later my family found out where I was. In the same place, as soon as you sign the contract, your phone is immediately taken away. But I didn’t want to stay there for a long time, so I didn’t build relationships with anyone, but only constantly conflicted. I still had the image of a kid at that time: shaved bald, grinders … The producer, of course, did not like my position, and because of this we also had scandals. Four months later, the degree of heat rose nowhere higher, and I decided that I had enough. The project was finished. If we talk about volunteering, then even before Donbass I joined the Liza Alert search unit, and I remain there to this day. I try to help animals whenever possible.
– Let's start with the fact that before Donbass I already knew what war was. At the end of the second Chechen campaign, I came to Grozny with humanitarian aid. Therefore, I had a clear idea that there was no resort there. Without any further illusions.
My youth was spent in the so-called informal environment: skinheads, football fans … At that time, we were very close friends with the Shakhtar fan club.
“ Shakhtar ”is a Ukrainian professional football club from Donetsk, playing in the Ukrainian Premier League. Winner of the UEFA Cup, thirteen-time champion of Ukraine, thirteen-time winner of the Ukrainian Cup, nine-time winner of the Ukrainian Super Cup, four-time winner of the USSR Cup.
Even before the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014, the guys from the “support” (fans supporting the team. – Auth. ) began to agitate me to come and side with Ukraine. At first I didn't quite understand exactly where they were calling me. Some vague phrases sounded: “Come on, and we'll move over there.”
Shirokino Photo: From personal archive
I will not hide the fact that initially the idea of the Maidan itself was close to me, like many others. But no one expected what it would turn out to be. People were “divorced”, put pressure on painful, lively topics, of which everyone was very tired: rampant corruption, without money you can’t do anything, but there’s no money … And then Odessa happened, when people were burned alive. It just didn't fit in my head. In our crowd, opinions were divided, and then it became clear who, where and on whose side.
And so I come to Donetsk, but it turns out that my “barkers” are already in Kiev. I remember we phoned, I said: “I mean, are you in Kiev? You are Donetsk residents. What have you forgotten there? ” And they answered me: “Live. Come to us too. Let's go to Azov to serve together. ”
I couldn’t believe my ears. “What” Azov “?! – I shout into the phone. “Are you going to kill your own people, fire your own houses?”
But after talking for some more time, I realized that we were not on our way further. They were brainwashed there. There were people – they became zombies, they didn't hear anyone or anything.
I, of course, then was very offended. I abandoned everything in Moscow, came, consider, to nowhere, and how to continue to be – it is not clear. “Mine” – everyone in Ukraine, more precisely, those whom I considered “mine”. By the way, they also wrote to me later: like, let's meet on the battlefield, they sent all sorts of threats … For you to understand, I was only 25 years old at that time.
Fortunately, in addition to those “comrades” I had other acquaintances in Donetsk. In general, before the war, I loved this city very much and often came there. For myself, I clearly decided that I would stay here in the militia. I simply could not return and live peacefully in Moscow, knowing that people are being killed here, children. A grandmother comes out with a cross on a tank, and she is being crushed by a tank … It was impossible to remain indifferent. You see, if I hadn't stayed there, I wouldn't have been me.
– Of course, it's scary. For yourself, for those who remained in the Donbass, for those who left for the side of Ukraine … This is a very strange feeling: you knew people, you were even friends with someone. Now, if you meet and the situation forces you to, you will kill him. Simply because otherwise he will kill you.
– I found the end of 2014 in Lugansk. First I went to the LPR, I wanted to get to serve with Alexei Mozgovoy or Alexander Bednov. But, unfortunately, I did not have time to personally meet them, I left for Donetsk. Then they were gone. And I just nailed to the militia boys and stayed.
With Polynkov Photo: From personal archive
– Well, at first, of course, there were all sorts of jokes, not without it. But I did not hear any vulgarity from anyone, and no one pestered. For my luck, the first year no one knew that I was a participant in the Dom-2 project, otherwise I cannot imagine how many jokes I would have heard about myself. Probably, this show was not so popular in Ukraine, and people did not recognize me. Or maybe I've changed so much. I don’t know.
– In 2015 I was invited to a live broadcast, and there someone recognized me and wrote that I was in “House 2”. But at that time already all colleagues took it more or less normally.
“ The Nazis mocked the prisoners for fun ”
– A lot of people. With Igor Strelkov, with Givi, with Motorola. We were very friendly with Mamai.
Oleg Mamiev, call sign “Mamai”, is a participant in the war in Donbass, a lieutenant colonel of the armed forces of the DPR, the commander of the international brigade “Pyatnashka”. One of the founders of the Union of Donbass Volunteers. He died on May 17, 2018.
Together with him, we came up with a birthday present for Sasha Zakharchenko: we wanted to give a black wolf cub. But Oleg did not live up to this moment, and we presented the gift together with the guys from Pyatnashka. The cub was named Faithful Alan Mountain Winds.
And Mamai and I also dreamed of transferring the bombarded Dokuchaevsky zoo to Donetsk and building a new, large one there so that the animals could be free-range. Zakharchenko supported us with this idea. But they didn't have time.
– Oh, listen, whatever you have to do. It happened that there was not even a penny of money at all. For some time I worked with Igor Ivanovich Strelkov in a warehouse with humanitarian aid. By the way, he is the only person who took up the huge supply of humanitarian supplies for animals to various home and small shelters. I was offended for the animals, and I just asked him to send at least some food to the “4 Paws” shelter, where we took the wounded animals. And Igor Ivanovich sent several tons and began to do this on an ongoing basis. What was there just for animals! Thanks to this, not only promoted shelters, like Pif, for example, to which money and food were always sent from abroad, were provided with feed, but also ordinary, home animal shelters, private. They needed them the most, but no one cared about them.
It is not only people who suffer from the war. We ourselves from the front line brought seriously wounded animals to the shelters, the girls took care of them. There were no days off: you are on the front line, then in the warehouse.
We used to live in the location, and in the closets of all sorts of incomprehensible, when the financial situation was a little better, in a hotel … We moved constantly. There was no such thing to get on the point – that's all. The longest point where I lived was the Central Hotel.
– Of course not. They did a discount, and that's good. We paid 900 rubles a month for water and electricity.
– Everyone has it differently. Personally, I rented an apartment in Moscow. We have always helped each other. Money will come to me for the apartment – I will buy something for the guys. Then, when I'm not doing very well, they will help. Yes, in fact we had everything in common. There is no other way to survive in war.
– Good. That's really very good. Except when people were sold to Ukrainians and handed us over. For example, we carry water, bread, medicines, the locals see it, and after a while we come under fire. Once a school bus with children almost got under such shelling. Fortunately, we managed to deploy it. In Novolasp (Telmanovsky district. – “MK” ) It was. First, the machine gunners fired at us, then the snipers began to work. Upon arrival, even then they understood who was shooting what. Two hundred meters to the car. I had to crawl over stones, over broken glass. There was a girl with us, the driver's wife – she thought of it: she went in a dress and on heels. I told her at the beginning of the journey: “Why did I dress like that? You're setting us up. How can I get you out afterwards ?! ” It was hard for her to crawl at all. While we were driving between houses, we saw that a bus with children was on its way. The driver seems to be asleep and does not see that they are bombing. I had to block the road with my car. I fly up to the bus, yelling at the driver … In general, they turned the bus around. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
– Many. There were even prisoners who said that they were glad that they came to us. I remember that a seventeen-year-old boy was caught, so he generally said that he came out to us on purpose. He was afraid to openly go over to the side of Donbass, because he understood that inadequate Nazis were serving around him, and if they found out, they would kill him.
– Often. Both ours and Ukrainians. That side of the tin that did with the prisoners. Sometimes they just scoffed for fun. When I remember, I still cringe. It seems that time has already passed, and somehow I myself try to abstract from the memories, but still I can not fully return to a peaceful life. Gone is the habit of listening to every noise. And before any fireworks, firecrackers – you immediately look with your eyes to see where something is flying from.
Donbass volunteer badge Photo: From personal archive
– Enough. I'll tell you that there were women who were bolder than some men.
– The girls are mostly local. Guys – 50 to 50. Girls were really appreciated, protected as best they could.
– Well, how without it? Still, living people. I myself got married in the war. Our wedding was the second most discussed after the wedding of Motorola. The entire Internet was buzzing …
Arsen Pavlov, call sign “Motorola”, is a participant in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the commander of the anti-tank special unit “Sparta” of the DPR. Died October 16, 2016.
We generally thought that there would be some kind of provocation at the wedding – more precisely, we were even warned that this was possible. But the blessing all went quietly. Then, in 2016, I gave birth to a child in Donetsk and left for Moscow with my daughter. And my husband still serves in Donbass.
“There is always propaganda that Russia is an enemy”
– I came to fight because I needed it, and not for the sake of a military man or something else, so I remained in the “unofficial”. Someone checked out.
– It got worse. More violence. Look at them yourself (Ukrainian. – Auth. ) children. They themselves did not come to this – it means that someone put such thoughts and such words into their heads. There is a constant propaganda that Russia is the enemy, and all their troubles are because of the Russians.
– I don't think so. The most important ones remained. Why should they leave, leave their home and run? Do you know how to understand that a person who was born in Donbass is Russian? He didn't run away. I'm not saying that everyone should follow their example. But personally, I am proud of these people. They live for the sake of their country so that their children can then live there, without war, without Maidans …
– I'll tell you straight: everyone already understands that this is the most commercial war. And why Mozgovoy was killed. And why did not Sasha Zakharchenko become. Now, it seems to me, the 2014 scenario is being replayed in Donbass. And it will not be possible to stop without the help of Russia. Many are now dissatisfied with Putin, but personally I believe that it is not he who is to blame, but his entourage. And he needs to clean this environment. War, in my opinion, is a kind of vicious circle that can be broken not by forced reconciliation, but by non-standard ones. Because the standards that are now used to unite countries no longer work. Pay attention to Armenia and Azerbaijan. No matter how much they put up, armed conflicts still continue.
As for Ukraine, it seems to me that as soon as its financial support from the West stops, the war will end.
Wedding Photo: From personal archive
– I left for Moscow in 2016, after the birth of my child, – I had to do the documents and so, some issues to be resolved. It took more time than I originally thought. And when everything was settled, I realized that there was no point in returning to Donbass. 2017 year. What was I already there to do? At first I still came there often, and then less and less.
But it was hard to get out of the habit. And now, it happens, he finds it. You think: “Why is that? Mine are all there, and I am here. ” Only a child holds. If not for my daughter, she would have left long ago. Especially seeing what is happening now.
– I thought about that too. In life, there are often situations when volunteers come to the rescue, and not those who should come on duty or work. But for those who are waiting for help, it is not so important where it came from. The end result is important. And therefore it is necessary to promote goodness and it is necessary to instill in children care for those who are in need. Otherwise, society is doomed.
There was a pause after my question. I have already encountered such a reaction, communicating with volunteer rescuers, with volunteers. When a person helps not for the sake of something, but simply because he cannot do otherwise.
“I don’t even know what to answer,” Natasha was the first to break the silence. – Autopilot, I guess. I don’t know how else it can be. This is already a way of life. And it doesn't matter to whom and where you help: you are taking humanitarian aid to the front line, you brought a bag to your grandmother, or you didn’t leave the dog hit by a car to die on the street. You, most importantly, help.