Correspondence with Andriy Boyar, Editor in chief of the Ukrainian skateboard magazine ZIRKA

Andriy Boyar

Last week Andriy Boyar, Editor-in-Chief of the Ukrainian skateboard magazine ZIRKA, reached out to us, offering to share small interviews with Ukrainian skateboarders about the current situation in Ukraine. The hope was that in doing so, it would help to spread the information all around the world to the skate community about what's really going on there from the point of view of skaters on the ground. In Andriy’s words:
“A huge part of Russian people don’t believe that there is a war, there is a huge propaganda machine there. All of them read and watch local brainwashing news. I think if you could help us to spread the information, it could help to spread the true information and open eyes of those people who don’t believe in it and still trust Russian government.”
Then Andriy went silent for a few days and we started to worry, but this morning this email came in:

“Hello!  Sorry for the belated answer.

Everyday we have bombing attacks and alarms, so it’s not easy to collect all the information.

Today is the 11th day of the war started by Russia. The aggressor country crossed our border with its troops from the side of our borderline and Crimea, which they had previously occupied and annexed. Their planes are bombing civilians, tanks are firing on green corridors and their armed occupiers are looting and robbing.

At the same time, in Russia it is called a “special operation to liberate the Ukrainian population from the nazis”. But in reality, the nazis are Russia, with its political elite, army, terrorist Putin, and civilians who are blindly silent and continue to support the regime. They were zombified all this time by fake news, and now it is very important to reach the consciousness of Russians. Some people understand what is happening, some are protesting, but the majority blindly believe in their emperor.

On March 2, the seventh day of the war, a missile fell in my yard in the town of Irpin, near Kyiv. The house next to ours is completely destroyed, ours is badly damaged and has no more windows or doors. At that time, my family and I were no longer there. First, we moved to Kyiv with my wife and our cat, spent a couple of days in the bomb shelter, and then decided to go to the city of Kropyvnytskyi, located in central Ukraine, and take our parents too. It's a little safer here now. We live in our big family in an apartment provided by friends. 

Me and my wife, we are fighting on the creative front, the so-called cyber army. Olga, my wife, is a French teacher. She gives interviews to various foreign TV channels almost every day. As an art director and designer, I started doing a project on IG. I make thematic covers for music albums and sell them for donations to the Ukrainian army. In addition, we are constantly in touch with friends and people we know, coordinate actions, try to be as useful as possible in this war.

Every day, Russia attacks our homes, kills people, and razes our cities to the ground. But it will be over soon, I'm sure. Our army is courageously destroying the occupiers, defending our borders. Ukrainians are a very cohesive nation. Everyone is now helping as much as possible: someone with a machine gun, someone with a computer. Everyone is doing his best to end this war as soon as possible and for us to win.

The international community is helping us with weapons and humanitarian aid. But this is not enough. The main thing now is to close the sky over Ukraine so that Russian planes cannot bomb us from above. NATO refuses to do so because of the risk of World War III and the nuclear threat to the world. But the war is already happening, people are already dying. And as long as NATO is silent, there will be more and more dead people. So if you want to help - talk about it, write about it on your social networks, go to rallies. If it seems to everyone that this is a war between Ukraine and Russia, then you are wrong - this is Russia's war against the whole world."

photo provided by Andriy Boyar

Interview with Yatsenko Ilya

1. Please, introduce yourself

Hello. I’m Ilya Yatsenko, people may know me as Ilyukha the Small. I’m 15 years old and I am from Kyiv.

2. Where are you now?

At the moment I’m away from the city with my grandmother in quite a safe place.

3. Tell us briefly about your first day of the war. What was happening around?

On February 24 at 5 AM, I woke up from a phone call from my elder brother, saying, “The war is started. Pack up quickly and come to me!". First, everything was clouded, it was hard to believe that this could happen. I took all the documents, some stuff, and my parrot in a cat’s carrier ;) . I called a taxi and left. There was already panic around, I have never seen so many people at 6 am before. After about 15 minutes, we were already standing in a motionless traffic jam listening to the alarm siren. Everyone ran away with suitcases, cats, dogs, etc. It was a huge collapse. Many people were driving in the opposite direction, everyone was trying to leave the city as fast as possible. It was scary and incomprehensible. It was complete chaos.

4. What does your day during the war looks like?

Now I’m out of Kyiv. Now, every morning starts with calls and messages to relatives and friends asking "How are you?". I'm on my phone all day long. I communicate with friends, follow the news. Sometimes, to escape from all this nightmare, I go out to skate a bit.

5. Tell us briefly about who started the war and why do you think it happened?

Russia attacked my country. This war has been going on for 8 years already under the guise of "Liberation of the People", but what they are liberating us from - I have no idea. From us? I think the guys of my age cannot help much except by reposting and supporting relatives so that as many people as possible can hear that the war is going on in Ukraine.

6. How do you think each of us can help to end the war? How do you think the foreign skate community can help Ukraine?

The main thing is to believe in our military forces and that this will end very soon. If possible, we transfer money to aid funds and our army. Foreign skaters could go to the anti-war rallies in their countries. In this situation, it does not matter if you are a skater or not. The main thing is to stop this war. 

Interview with Sasha Smirnov

1. Please, introduce yourself

Glory to Ukraine! My name is Sasha Smirnov, I’m 26. I was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, but I live in Kyiv for the last 7 years.

2. Where are you now?

Now I’m at my parent’s place near Ivano-Frankivsk with my girlfriend.

3. Tell us briefly about your first day of the war. What was happening around?

There were explosions all around, alarms, many people who were trying to leave the city. No one could believe that this was actually happening. There was a scary and apocalyptic scenario all around. Everybody was scared and angry.

4. What does your day during the war looks like?

Usually, there is the same scenario every day: we wake up early because we sleep badly. I go for a walk with my parents' dog, because my father goes to work early, and my mother has a problem with her leg now. Then I walk with another dog that stays with us now, lead the girl to the workshop where she sews various stuff for the army (sleeping bags, bandages, etc.). Then I try to find different tasks in local chats with volunteers to help somehow the community in these difficult times. And of course, we all do the information defense, which is very important now. In the evening I meet my girlfriend, I walk the dogs again. During all this, I constantly read the news and check the situation, I have at least 6 and more hours of screen time on the phone.

5. Tell us briefly about who started the war and why do you think it happened?

Russia started the war 8 years ago. Initially, they annexed Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk. Now it is a full-scale war, but with the same motives, or rather - power and money. In fact, it is difficult to say the true motives of the psychopath, there is a complete mess in his head. I think this is a kind of mania of the power because Putin has been conducting his terrorist acts for a long time and he is constantly acting on the same type of peacekeeping scheme, but in reality, it's all bullshit, he's just a crazy terrorist. All the countries he terrorized before, agreed to his terms under the pressure of aggression, but Ukrainians are not intimidated, so his selfish tower was demolished and he threw all his forces on us.

6. How do you think each of us can help to end the war?

We have to spread the information, donate money for the army and, if possible, help with our hands. In my opinion, information support will be especially helpful, because the Russian secret services are zombifying people, and trying to do so to the whole world. We need to show the truth and support Ukraine as long as we have the strength, and never give up.

7. How do you think the foreign skate community can help Ukraine?

First of all, you can help to spread the information. Now, the support of the whole world is very important, everyone should know what is really happening. We still need to wake up all the citizens of Russia, because they still have something to do with what is happening. And they, like no one else, have the opportunity to correct this madness. Many people are just zombies, they get pounds of shit in their ears every day, and they believe it, they call us nazis, terrorists, and say that their troops are saving our land and our people. They have been silent for a long time, so now they have to answer for the actions of their government, and do it not with words but with actions, because very soon they will be behind the iron curtain that will make them understand the truth, but then it will be too late. But even if they react, they still have to leave the game for a long time, so many people have been injured so far, they will not wash away this blood for a very long time. Riders can not be “out of politics” in such times.

Interview with Yurii Korotun

1. Please, introduce yourself.

Hello, my name is Yurii Korotun, I’m 25 years old and I’m from Ukraine, Kyiv region. I used to be a professional skateboarder (I was waiting for my upcoming pro model for a Ukrainian brand).

I also was working as an assistant producer in a big film production company, organizing high-level commercial shootings for the foreign market in the US, Europe, worldwide.

2. Where are you now?

Now I’m in Germany, Hannover. I came here right after the beginning of the war.

A few months ago we started to hear some news that Russia wanted to come with a war to our Land, but mostly all people thought that it’d be only in the East of Ukraine. Last 4 months I was traveling and skating around the world. In November, I decided to start a new life here in Germany, in Berlin. I was waiting for spring to get married in Ukraine with my partner from Hannover. Then I came back to Ukraine on January 17, because I couldn’t stay here more than 90 days according to EU rules, and when I got to the city I felt a very big pressure and a lot of strange things which I never felt before.

There were a lot of false bombing calls of every structure, kindergartens, schools, airports, governmental buildings. Even my home place in the center of Kyiv was falsely bombed, and I was coming back home in that moment, and there were firemen cars, police and bombers who said that its seems like it’s clear and its a false bombing.

When I experienced all that things inside the city, I started to tell my family, my brother, and to a lot of talented skateboarders and my friends that something was wrong and it would be better to go to some vacations because I felt unsafe in my home place, it was awful.

All people around didn’t believe, they thought it won’t be serious, so they decided to stay and live as always. A lot of my friends came back to Ukraine from travel trips and work at that moment.

I went to Turkey with my wife, and we were there when it all happened. I packed one baggage bag, a backpack and my skateboard.

3. Tell us briefly about your first day of the war. What was happening around?

I woke up crying and seeing first pictures and videos of what was happening in my homeland Ukraine, my heart was literally exploding. Everything I knew, everything I loved, my family, friends, people from work and thousands of those who I met – all these beautiful people were attacked. And I was completely crushed.

4. What does your day during the war looks like?

Now I am very concentrated on helping other people. We coordinate donations to get all needed things for those who are inside the country, militaries, volunteers, and also so many of my friends and families and people who I know need different types of help. It’s mostly my routine.

I also try to skate and do sports to feel alive, it really helps in this difficult time, no fear at all.

I realized that while I can help, I need to do it smarter and not be harmful to myself, so for now I sleep well, eat well, have a lot of things to do with my wife in Hannover. I have pain inside, but I’m alive and needed for my people.

5. Tell us briefly about who started the war and why do you think it happened?

Russia started a war against a super peaceful and great nation bombing our infrastructure, bombing cities, people’s houses, and making an awful genocide of my people. Russian troops started to attack from all sides on the borders and brought their tanks and other military machines. All cities are under fire, they don’t stop bombing from the air and from all sides of the whole Ukraine. The city were I was born and the region where I grew up and where my family lives is now one of the hottest war spots. Also the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv were bombed so many times now, that people can do nothing but hide, and so many apartments, houses and other buildings were destroyed. Russia and Putin didn’t want Ukraine to have a good European life. It was kind a last chance to hold Ukraine for them.

6. How do you think each of us can help to end the war?

We need to fight till the end against one psycho who can ruin our planet, we need to speak, we need to help our close people and be kind because those worldwide terrorists showed that it isn’t safe anymore. The whole world should be united because we all have one crazy enemy which is danger for all of us, showing absolutely crazy violence in this peaceful time.

7. How do you think the foreign skate community can help Ukraine?

It is so awful to see so many Russians, opinion leaders, famous people, skateboarders, musicians, and all other people supporting Putin, believing in TV propaganda and hiding eyes from the truth. They sit in silence even now, seeing this awful thing happening in my land. They called us brothers, and now they don’t even look at the truth. It’s so painful, all that is happening is absolute madness and such a big trauma.

We need to open their eyes with our word, so many young skaters and families don’t know the actual truth because opinion leaders silent, they blocked all social networks. AT LEAST WE NEED TO USE INSTAGRAM TO OPEN PEOPLE’S EYES!

Big magazines and pages should speak. If not, it will be too late. Let’s spread this info! We all have a lot of contacts, some of your friends can save so many lives with donations as well.

We need to be strong. We are good people who have to help those who are in need now because it’s all about human rights and safety of the whole world. They are literally making genocide of Ukrainians.

If you'd like to donate to the Ukraine Humanitarian crisis appeal, please follow this link.

Back to blog