Maksym Hryshchuk is a Lviv Prosecutor who volunteered to go to the ATO war zone. He served in the Ukrainian Army for a year, and spent five months defending Donetsk Airport. He returned to work on October 22.
Maksym Hryshschuk has been working as a Prosecutor in the Lviv Department for Minor Children since 2013. He decided to voluntarily enlist in the army when the Kremlin annexed Crimea. In April 2014, he went to the local recruitment bureau, but his application got lost. The second time, Maksym went straight to the Commissariat in August during his vacation time. Maksym Hryshchuk served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine for a whole year.
“I have young children and sooner or later they’ll grow up and ask me where I was or what I was doing when our country was at war. I won’t be able to answer them. I just wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye!” says the Cyborg Prosecutor.
Maksym began his military training at the Yovoriv military camp in August 2014. He says that the trainees were given very old and worn-out uniforms and all his “ragged” colleagues looked more like a gang of thieves than regular Ukrainian soldiers. The Prosecutor confesses that his Kevlar helmet and bulletproof vest were purchased by the employees of the City Prosecutor’s Office.
No one even guessed that army recruits were training side-by-side with a real Prosecutor. Maksym’s comrades could not believe it when they learnt the truth.
“They asked me: “Why did you enlist? And voluntarily!! – No, there’s something wrong here, there’s probably some sort of lustration happening in your office… and you’re here to avoid it! You probably took huge bribes. They didn’t believe me for a very long time.” says Maksym.
After two months of training at the Yavoriv site, Maksym was thrown into the thick of the fighting at Donetsk Airport. He had never served in the army before and had never used a weapon. Maksym Hryshchuk used to belong to Plast (Ukrainian Scout organization) so he could easily read the terrain and military maps; his orientation skills and Plast training helped him to survive. For him, the Donetsk Airport meant much more than just a battlefield.
“We stood our ground from the very beginning as we were actually holding the outskirts of Donetsk. The airport was a strategic site that we had to hold so that Russian cargo planes couldn’t land there. We were glad when the landing strip was bombed and destroyed. Then the airport became a symbol. We couldn’t just let it go and abandon such a powerful symbol.” states Maksym.
Maksym has two daughters. The youngest is only three months old. He dreams of having a son. When people call the young Prosecutor a Cyborg, he just laughs and wonders how the Russian invaders would have reacted if they had known who was actually guarding the airport.
“Everybody was scared. Any man who says he was not afraid is a liar. Fear is a normal human reaction. It was horrible when we came under fire for the first time. My legs were shaking and I was gasping for air…like a fish out of water.” remembers Maksym.
Maksym returned home just a few days ago. His wife, Viktoriya, did not know that her husband was defending the airport. When he decided to enlist, she reacted like most women.
“I was against it. I was really scared! And then I started thinking about everything and my emotions settled down. I accepted it…” adds Viktoriya Hryshchuk.
The Cyborg Prosecutor will receive the state award “For Courage”. However, Maksym believes that the real heroes are actually those who are no longer with us.