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Viktor Hurniak, INSIDER Reuters Photo-journalist / Aidar soldier killed in Luhansk fighting

Viktor Hurniak, INSIDER Reuters Photo-journalist / Aidar soldier killed in Luhansk fighting
Source: Hromadske
Article by: Yuri Butusov, Taras Hryvul,, William Risch
Translated by: William Risch
Edited by: Lisa Spencer

A photographer and soldier from Lviv died today while fighting in the Luhansk Oblast for Ukraine. Some of my friends on Facebook knew him, and they are greatly upset. I have decided to translate news about his death to honor his memory. – William Risch

[Editor’s note:  This article is in three parts, each a translation of a different friend’s homage to Viktor, each with its own accompanying media. The music videos are especially significant because this brave soldier was their actor and producer, and their stories tell of soldiers dying bravely for their country’s freedom.  English lyrics are posted at the end of this article.]


Yuri Butusov, editor of the online news portal, wrote this in memory of Viktor Hurniak [and included Viktor’s last Facebook update]:

Facebook Status Update of Yuri Butusov, October 19, 2014:

Viktor Hurniak, a man who inspired the brave, suffered death while helping the wounded in the battle for Checkpoint 32 and while trying to break through Russian mercenaries’ fortifications. Viktor Hurniak was a resident of Lviv. Viktor was a professional journalist and a photographer with Thompson Reuters. As a freelancer, he worked with many media outlets and news agencies, like INSIDER and UNIAN…

On December 1, 2013, Viktor filmed the fight on Bankova Street [in front of the Presidential Administration building]. He was active through the whole Maidan. When the war started, Viktor became a soldier – a volunteer for one of the most fearless strike units, Aidar Battalion. With a weapon in his hand, Viktor Hurniak defended each one of us, our Fatherland, his family, his wife Ira Hurniak, a little daughter…

Viktor Hurniak’s life was a true example of a patriot of Ukraine, an ideal journalist and citizen. A journalist of the year. A journalist of the century. A true Plast Scout in word and deed. He had many talents, and he considered it impossible to be [just] an observer or a photographer. He chose the path of a true soldier.

Because for him, Ukraine, the Fatherland, was not just a place of work or a place of residence – [his country] was the main thing in his life, it was even life itself…

On October 12, Viktor wrote his last status update on Facebook [in Ukrainian]:

“I’ve been moved to tears… Most of all, I want to believe that we will remember the deeds of those who gave their lives for you and I. I’ve already gotten to know guys from Donbas, in [just] several days – them, and many others, and their deaths are like those of a close friend. Maybe that’s hard to understand, but it’s impossible to forget. They are without a doubt heroes, like all those who are still alive. Their smiles and their jokes dance before my eyes. It hurts, but I can’t stop it. Ask yourselves: What did you do for victory? The enemy isn’t only outside, it’s within us. Kill it in you, and that will avenge their deaths. Rest in peace, friends…”

Viktor appeared in a movie. It was a music video for the band Tartak: “Don’t Let Anyone.” In the video, Viktor plays a character in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who dies for Ukraine in battle. The video turned out to be prophetic, and Viktor led his life just as valiantly as his character.

Thank you, Viktor. There are no words to express our grief. We will not forget you, we will not forget your deed, we will not forget your family… Rest in peace, we will carry out your wish, hero…

butusov-photo-1-19-oct-2014VH desk


Taras Hryvul, a history instructor and a graduate of Lviv National University, is my friend on Facebook. This is how he remembered Viktor Hurniak, who was serving with him in Aidar Battalion:

Facebook Status Update from Taras Hryvul, October 19, 2014:

Viktor Hurniak, a Plast Scout, a comrade from my platoon, an Aidar soldier, has been killed. Rest in peace!

P.S., I will miss hanging out with you.

A music video of Tartak’s “My Knight’s Cross,” which Viktor co-produced [with John Dovganyk ]:

Editor’s notes:

“My Knight’s Cross” is a patriotic rock song about young men earning knighthood, seeking the coveted medal of valor, bravery and leadership in battle for their country.  The Knight’s Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stanislaus is one such Ukrainian medal of distinguishment.
Lyrics source for My Knight’s Cross (Ukrainian):


Viktor Hurniak, Photo Correspondent and Aidar Battalion Soldier, Killed in Luhansk Oblast, Sunday, October 19, 2014

hromadske-hurniak-1VH helmet headshot

Viktor Hurniak, a soldier for Aidar Battalion, was killed today at 10.10 a.m. around Checkpoint 32 in Luhansk. Viktor himself was trying to evacuate the wounded, but the car would not start. While he was starting it, a shell flew in, and a piece of shrapnel hit him in the side. The soldier lived for a while, but his wounds were fatal.

hromadske-hurniak-2VH two  helmets hromadske-hurniak-3VH dog

Viktor was born in the Ternopil Oblast in 1987. He worked as a photographer for the UNIAN, INSIDER, and Thompson Reuters agencies. He set up the LUFA photography agency with friends. Over the past half year, he supplied clothes and shoes for the Aidar Battalion and procured all the equipment for them. He joined the battalion as a soldier in September.

hromadske-hurniak-4 VH car hromadske-hurniak-5 VH sun

Viktor was also in the Plast Scouting organization. [Additionally,] he managed to be filmed in the music video for Tartak and Nichlavy’s “Don’t Let Anyone” and in Taras Khymych’s movie, Golden September.

He was our colleague and friend. And a real hero. Viktor Hurniak leaves behind a wife and a two-year-old daughter.

Olesia Yedynak, Viktor’s friend, is collecting donations to help the family: 5211537423129332 Yedynak O. I.

Here is the trailer to the movie, Golden September, A Chronicle of Galicia, 1939-1941:

By the way, as Viktor himself confessed, the most difficult part for him during these scenes was kissing the girl…

hromadske-hurniak-6 VH cameras


Olesia Yedynak, Viktor’s friend, is collecting donations to help the family: 5211537423129332 Yedynak O. I.

The cost has been high in this undeclared war between Russia and Ukraine, and it becomes more noticeable with each passing week as friends online report someone they know being killed or announce their plans to get ready for war. I fear there will be more stories like these in the coming months. – William Risch


Knight’s Cross

Breathing forest,
Bird on Gilly
The song sings that pleases my ear …
I’ve been growing up –
It was through goals
The body and strengthen the spirit of season …
quiet dew
Zib’yetsya with herbs
Shouting “Forward!” Friendly stomping feet …
I found here
What is sought
Glory earned himself won!

My knights cross –
My award
Because it fell not: for what did not run away!
My knights cross –
A colorful adventure
That will last me the whole age!
My knight’s cross! …

The passage of years,
They blizzard
Whiskey colored in my snow.
I thanks
Scars on the body,
In memory of his lock firmly all
Friends of mine
And enemies –
Whom he loved and who killed …
Maybe something
I failed,
And not ruined, not sold, do not lose …

My knights cross –
My award
Because it fell not: for what did not run away!
My knights cross –
A colorful adventure
That will last me the whole age!
My knight’s cross! …

Those who died and those who survived
Gratefully dedicate his word!
Let the enemy zyrkaye eyes wild,
Let growls – I was not scared.
Who ingrown roots that will not break.
Who has the rod, he shall not zihnetsya.
The love of a mother – the best adviser.
Love for the motherland – the idea of ​​the heart.
Knight’s Cross – award for selected –
Not always on the chest, and the actions and accomplishments.
For those who were brave in battle.
For those that attack rose first.
Not err from the words said –
Dirty hands, teeth chomp!
In a world of many dirty and contagious
But those who want to remain clean …

(Basic Google Translation)


Don’t Let Anyone

(dedicated to Brothers-in-Arms and future generations)

When war breaks at the door,
Not protect speech and press on paper.
You must go, you must take arms
I defend the right to life in the crucible of war …

One problem went west, the other came from the east.
Again, tears, fear again, again suffering for the people.
Again, behind the liberators
Came new invaders and torturers …
So what to do – sit back,
Quietly look at murder and torment?
Or, taking the blessing of mother mother
Start a fight – with new enemies?

Cry me Mom, when I die.
For their land for Ukraine
Cry me sister, let alone anyone
What I will not return home.

Flows tear prohornuyuchy wrinkles.
My mom prays – “Long will live a little more”
For so long did not see his son
And ever see him alive …

You know, Mom, I’m still on track!
Karayus, tormented, but not repent!
If not me – then who? Needless to question …
For us it is not just a war – a liberation movement.
People are driven to rise as cattle,
Humiliate, to destroy human form …
And to protect these people have no chance,
They have one hope – to rebel …

Cry me Mom, when I die.
For their land for Ukraine
Cry me sister, let alone anyone
What I will not return home.

Years later, the earth heals wounds
Will remain alive single veterans …
And how many of those who did not come home
They lie in their own land in Tomb of the Unknown …

Slowly melt our forces, and we all know
As the war with alien still lose …
Let our victory relatively small
And most importantly, our people remained on their land.
No one knows who I am, no one knows where I am …
Body die – live idea …
And our soul here – in family spaces –
Volyn forests of the Carpathian Mountains …

Cry me Mom, when I die.
For their land for Ukraine
Cry me sister, let alone anyone
What I will not return home.

(Basic Google Translation)

Source: Hromadske
Translated by: William Risch
Edited by: Lisa Spencer
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