“It was like getting a present on my birthday…,” said Nadiia Kuzmynykh recounting the moment her son came home after 4 months of being a Ukrainian prisoner of war. Oleh Kuzmynykh , her son, is the commander of the 90th Assault Battalion of the 81st Airborne Brigade, part of the Ukrainian army that held their positions at Donetsk airport for several months before it was finally captured by separatists on 21 January 2015. Their super-human like determination to hold the airport led to them being popularly nicknamed Cyborgs.
During detention, Oleh was locked in a single cell which was lit around the clock and almost completely isolated from the outside world for months on end. He was only allowed to ring home a few times to let his relatives know he was alive.
One of the worst moments for Nadiia was when a video surfaced featuring one of the separatist commanders, Givi, threatening Oleh shouting, “You don’t even know what’s real hell yet”. But at the same time the video was also evidence that he was alive. Oleh returned to service immediately after returning home.
// Video by Nikita Mekenzin and Kira Tolstiakova. Filmed in May.