How I lost my car, hid from the police, escaped the city and nearly divorced.
Winter. Ukraine is trying to take off corrupted government led by president Viktor Yanukovich who suddenly changed vector from Europe to USSR thanks to Mr. Putin and allowed or initiated slaughter of students who weren’t agree. The main square of Kiev called Maidan became a headquarters of opposition movement which wasn’t controlled by any party, it was people of low and middle class from around Ukraine who were fed up with lawlessness and unlimited corruption on all levels of all governmental institutions such as courts, police, education, healthcare…
As a car owner I participate in some activities organised by group of car owners movement called Automaidan, we help people around the city, patrol districts as Kiev is flooded with criminals whose goal is to destabilise situation and commit provocations. We also help stopped by traffic police people who bring food, clothes, whatever to get to Maidan.
Let the show begin!
I’m a part of a motor rally supporting peaceful opposition demonstration in Cherkasy city and I drive 2 journalists from Polish TV channel who are originally from Belarus. They interview me on the way to Cherkasy, I tell how Automaidan operates, that we communicate via mobile application Zello which is a kind of walkie-talkie, and other stuff.
We arrive to Cherkasy at midnight, local Automaidan representatives meet us and we arrive to the main city square and park our cars in front of the City Hall where by some mysterious reason we don’t find promised demonstration we supposed to support.
Suddenly some people start throwing cocktail Molotovs to the City Hall windows, some try to get inside the building. At some point of time these activists disappear and a huge herd of police and bandits rush out from behind the building. I have no other choice than to leave my car where it is and run away.
I and a couple of guys whom I meet during our runaway hide all night at the city where we don’t know a single person. We run about eight blocks away, at some street a guy driving parallel with us shoot at us from pneumatic gun, then disappears. Surreal.
We’re cold (-17°C), we try to find someone who could give us a shelter for the night by calling and messaging friends from Kiev. My wife sees our messages in FB and observes our movement at night via Life360 app. Luckily we find a guy who picks us up and we spend a night at his mother’s apartment. Valeriy Gaponyuk, I won’t forget you, my saviour.
We leave Cherkasy in the morning by a public bus jumping in on the way cause we have an information that some cars are destroyed and all of them are removed from the square and police is still looking for demonstrators, and looking for them at the bus station is a good idea.
The bus drivers talks by phone and then the bus stops just behind the city. People go out to smoke. We’re nervous. We ask why have we stopped? And the driver says: “you’re those guys who jumped in on the way?”. We ignore. He says: “something is with engine, waiting for the next bus”. We go to the forest, call Valeriy, he says we better get out of there, he connects us with his friends, they say they’re on their way, we go deep in the forest along the road around 1km, then guys come, we jump in and they drive us to the intersection where we get another bus from another city.
While I go to Kiev my friends come to my home, get my computer and bring it to my friends’ apartment, where I stay for next one+ month and keep up my freelance activities from there.
Where is my car, dude?
I don’t know where my car is, I ask my saviour Valeriy and friends of friends who live in Cherkasy to check the square hoping that my car is still there, but every one says that all cars gone and no one knows where they are.
My car is fully insured. I go to insurance company explain the case. I don’t know where my car is, and it’s really bad cause if I want to get compensation I need to bring them a certificate from police department, meaning I have to go to police and I can’t do this because there is a chance to stay there for a while… beyond bars. Man, that’s bad, very bad…
Suddenly some girl posts a pic of my car in Automaidan’s Facebook group. It turns out the car is still there with broken windshield and mirror. The only car left there because it was parked properly.
Always park in allowed slots, even during revolutions and disasters.
Then I get new picture of the car in that FB group with kinda fixed windshield.
Someone cured my car with plastic bags and tape at freezing cold, and we don’t even know each other. Later with help of Facebook I found it was local activist Anna Duma. Thank you Anna, the world is not without kind people!
Then people said it’s under observation and as soon as I get inside, I’ll be trapped. With help of Facebook I find a local opposition deputy who agrees to help me. I go back to Cherkasy again, we meet, I tell the story to journalists from the local TV channel and we go to the car.
There are some guys in front of our car. He approaches to them and asks who are they and what are they doing here, he shows his deputy certificate, the guys see journalists with camera and drive away. He gets into my car, luckily starts the engine and go to the Nissan service station. His driver takes me and journalists on his huge Lexus LX570 behind.
Then the deputy invites us to the restaurant, we have a dinner and he gives me some guest apartment for the night. I get to the apartment and understand something is wrong, and it gets worse and worse. I vomit many times, I feel so bad, I don’t know my address, it’s a deep night already, there is no water in the apartment, and my mouth and throat is drier than Sahara after enduring vomit session.
I’m dying and no one can care of me.
I try to figure out my location by Google Maps, call the ambulance, they come, check my temperature, it’s 39°C, they give me a saving drink of… sorry, give me an injection to the ass and suddenly I start feeling better! Later Valeriy brings me a tank of water and medicine.
I will live!
Next day I close the question with my insurance company and go back to Kiev by bus again and return to Cherkasy in two weeks, pay cash for repair and drive back to Kiev on my brand new car. What a happiness to realize my car is with me in a good shape again. Then I find a bag with Canon 5D MarkII and L lenses in my trunk. Must be my Polish journalist friends’.
My wife was at business trip in Russia, and of course she knew everything. She was mad so much, she accused me of risking my life, loosing the car, staying in danger because police may get me any moment, and lastly she didn’t see much sense in my actions. We tried to communicate, but failed persistently. She didn’t understand me, I didn’t understand her. God, it was the most tough period of our five years happy marriage which could end. I’m afraid of even thinking of this.
When some shit happens, you need to be together, it improves communication a lot.
I’m lucky. Many people are injured as Belarus journalists I drove to Cherkasy, some people are in prison.
Police crashed my passengers’ cameras and seized all footage they shot during a couple of days including my interview. Btw, I handed over their bag with camera by train to Warsaw.
Some cars were crashed, some burned as the car of Vladimir Chernysh who was hiding with me that night. Try to imagine getting Whatsapp message from friends in the morning with a picture of your new not insured Seat Altea XL that will never drive again.
I don’t appear at my home till the President and the government are exiled... just in case.
As soon as I get my car back I find it in the list called “Find a fascist in your neighbourhood” that is spread in the internet. This is the list of all cars noticed in all demonstrations that took place during the revolution. This list has all details including full names, addresses, contact data, car colour and other details. Guess who made this list public ;)
Every night cars of activists are burned around the city. I don’t park my car near my home anymore. Sometimes I patrol my neighborhood at nights by schedule. At that time all neighbourhoods of the city had its own patrol squads to protect people, cars and other property.
Fortunately it all ends, I sell my car and move to China.
Now Ukraine is in much bigger trouble with Russia. I hope it will end with minimal losses soon. Pray for Ukraine.
If you want to dethrone government, do it on a cheap old insured car.