Serhiy "Deerslayer" Merchuk is a senior patrol officer in Rivne. During Maidan he was in the "Volyn Sich" company – the 35th company. This company lost six people between 18th and 20th February 2014. Serhiy himself was injured. After Maidan he joined the voluntary “Azov” battalion and fought in Donbas. Now, at 25 years old, he is head of Rivne Patrol Police.
“I got a law diploma and was told to look for a job,” Serhiy says. “Everyone kept asking for bribes, I refused to do that."
"There are two other 25 year-old senior officers. Until recently I was the youngest. A senior officer in Kryvyi Rih was recently appointed who is 23. So he's outdone me slightly,” he jokes.
We watch footage of Maidan together. “Internal troop officers were brought here,” Serhiy explains. “They were sat in the cellar. The company came in from over here, and we were obstructing them over there. They ran towards us and started shooting. I remember the how much blood there was – we were pulling guys aside..”
We drive from Rivne to Lutsk to a monument for their “sotnya”.
“We buried Vasyl Moisei, he was the youngest one from Volyn who died on Maidan,” Serhiy tells us. “He was 21. More than 20 thousand people came to the funeral. He was buried at the central memorial. More than one million hryvnias were raised by the authorities and activists for the monument, but I think it looks rather Soviet.”
“I remember what the weather was like. It was so misty, it felt like death was in the air. After everything that happened, I started to associate war with this kind of weather and smell," he remembers.
He says that sometimes it is hard for him to talk about Maidan events.
"Sometimes, when I feel like it, I can talk and talk about this, but in places like this, it’s hard to get the words out my mouth. It just hits me."
Later that evening, whilst on patrol, Serhiy says: "I’m angry at other people, and at myself, because what we wanted hasn’t been achieved. Maybe it’s just youthful extremism. But what we want can’t be achieved so quickly."
However, he emphasizes that some changes have happened. Serhiy admits that 5-10 percent of Ukrainians have changed their worldview, attitude to life, their country and people.
"If we could turn back time, a lot of things would be different. Instead of coming back home, we could have gone straight from Maidan, straight to Donetsk, trained the military to get rid of all those ‘activists’ and scared them away. We let this happen. We didn’t pay attention, and as a result, it turned into this: 2 thousand soldiers dead, they’re just young men."
"I keep calm, I try to do my best, but still, I’m angry at myself because I haven’t really been doing my best. I could do better," he sums up.