The UBA charitable assistance to lawyers. The story of a volunteer who was seriously wounded at the front

The Ukrainian Bar Association has been helping Ukrainians to overcome the consequences of the war since the full-scale invasion of Russia. Jointly with the Charity Fund "Kind Hearts for Ukraine", the UBA initiated a charity project to help lawyers and their families who found themselves in a difficult situation due to the war — lost their homes, breadwinner, were injured as a result of hostilities, and need treatment, etc. Foreign and Ukrainian patrons, as well as simply caring people, join the charitable initiative. You can also join this initiative and make a small donation by following this link.

The Association and Charity Fund "Kind Hearts for Ukraine" have already supported many lawyers and their families. And we continue to tell you their stories in the series of publications "The UBA charitable assistance to lawyers."

Our next hero is Hennadii, a lawyer, who volunteered for the Territorial Defense Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the very first day of the full-scale war. He was seriously wounded in the battles in the Luhansk region, so he needed funds for treatment.

Hennadii comes from Dnipro. At the age of 10, he and his parents moved to Mariupol. He received his higher education at the Donetsk National University. In 2003, the man settled in Kyiv, where he started working in the field of law.

At the age of 44, Hennadii can boast of a career in well-known Ukrainian and international law firms: Shevchenko, Didkovskiy and Partners (now Asters), Clifford Chance, AVELLUM, Aequo, INTEGRITES. His last place of work before the full-scale war was the Ukrainian branch of the Norwegian company NBT, which specializes in the construction of wind power plants.

Before the full-sale war

At the beginning of February 2022, due to financial problems, NBT stopped the project in which Hennadii worked. The lawyer lost his job, so he started looking at other options. On February 23, he was supposed to go to Bukovel, a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains, for a meeting with business partners.

In those days there were constant talks about the threat of a full-scale Russian invasion. Many Ukrainians did not believe that the aggressor state would dare to take such a step. But Hennadii belonged to that category of people who were sure of the inevitability of a great war. In his opinion, this was evidenced by Russia's entire policy towards Ukraine since 2014.

"I got prepared in advance. I wrote a will. I made an agreement with my parents: if the war starts, they come to me, I give them my three cats and go to the military commissariat. Also, I told them to pack the emergency suitcase," the man recalls days before the invasion.

Anticipating war, Hennadii canceled his planned trip to Bukovel on February 22. And on the morning of February 24, when Russia did start a full-scale invasion, he went, as he had planned, to one of the Kyiv territorial procurement centers (TPC). According to the man, his decision to go to war was influenced by two factors — upbringing and the absence of his own family.

"I understood that it would be easier for me to die than for some father of children," says Hennadii.

The man left the TPC with nothing because he did not have a military ticket. After that, he decided to join the ranks of the territorial defense — everyone was accepted there.

Hennadii remembers a huge queue at the place where they signed up for the Territorial Defense. He stood in that line until the end of the day on February 24. Already at night, the lawyer finally signed all the necessary documents and received the machine gun. At the same time, Hennadii, who had neither military service nor a military department behind him, was shown how to handle weapons. All night he learned to disassemble and assemble the machine gun. In addition to weapons, each volunteer was given a helmet and a first-aid kit; there were no bulletproof vests.

At the territorial defense

Hennadii became a soldier of the 126th battalion of territorial defense of the Darnytsky district of Kyiv. For several days, his unit was stationed on the territory of the headquarters in the left bank of the capital. Later, the lawyer's squadron was transferred to Bortnychi, a neighborhood in the southern part of Kyiv, where the soldiers were ordered to patrol the area. Throughout March, while the Russian troops were on the outskirts of the capital, the unit did not get into combat clashes.

"There were a couple of times that we were called, somewhere subversive and reconnaissance groups were. But it was all over by the time ours arrived," Hennadii recalls.

The man served in the capital until the beginning of June, until his unit was sent to a training camp in the Dnipropetrovsk region. There, for three or four weeks, the fighters underwent training, in particular, they were taught mine work and digging trenches. By that time, the supply of military ammunition had already improved.

As a result of intensive training, Hennadii's problem with his knee worsened. He had to go to Kyiv, where he underwent an operation. After two months of treatment, the man returned to his brothers, who at that time were already in the Donetsk region.

At the beginning of October, Hennadii's battalion was transferred to the Luhansk region, to the area of the village of Bilohorivka, where the front line was located. The soldiers were ordered to stand in a forest, located between the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russians, and conduct observations from there. A few days later, the order came to entrench in that position to cover other units from a potentially threatening direction.

During the week, the invaders periodically fired at the forest but did not attempt to storm it. Everything changed on the morning of October 30, when the Russians suddenly went on the attack. The battle lasted all day. Hennadii's unit repulsed the invaders, so they retreated that evening, suffering losses. While retreating, the enemy fired at the positions of the Ukrainian defenders from something powerful — it was probably a tank. As a result of the explosion, several people were wounded, including Hennadii.

"Scream. Fire in the eyes. Slog. Pain, — recalls the lawyer. — My face was burned, my right eye was badly burned, I couldn't even open it. The left eye was hurt a little. Something flew into the right forearm, and tore off a piece of bone with meat and tendons. A small shrapnel flew into the left arm, so, in principle, there was only a fracture. I was covered in blood. There was a severe contusion."

The severely wounded Hennadii was not evacuated immediately. At first, his brothers thought that his legs were seriously injured and that he would have to be carried. So the man had to wait at least an hour for his turn to be evacuated. But later it turned out that the warrior's legs were practically unharmed and he could move on his own.

It was necessary to walk more than two kilometers to the place where the wounded were to be picked up by the evacuation transport. Hennadii, who could hardly see anything due to the darkness and a serious injury to his eyes, was led by one of his brothers. As soon as they passed the first 20-30 meters, an enemy mine flew nearby. At that moment, Hennadii was without a bulletproof vest — it was removed when first aid was provided. A fragment of a mine hit the ribs but passed through, so the wound was light. The man's guide was less fortunate: he was seriously wounded and could not go any further. Hennadii covered the rest of the way by himself and by touch.

An armored car was picking up the wounded at the collection point. The fighters barely had time to settle in it, when another mine landed a few meters from the car.

"I couldn't close the door [of the armored car], because my two arms were broken, and I could barely get anything out. That's how they were closed with an explosive wave," Hennadii says with a laugh.

The lawyer was taken to a field hospital, from there to Kramatorsk, and later transferred to his native Dnipro. The man's right arm was in serious condition. Some doctors did not consider any other option but to amputate the limb. Others insisted that the arm could be saved.

At the hospital

Hennadii also did not want to believe that the arm was hopeless. Therefore, he turned to his former colleague from INTEGRITES — she had previously offered the lawyer help in finding a doctor when he had problems with his knee. An acquaintance of the man told his other former colleagues about the situation, and they all began to help him: they looked for doctors, and collected money for treatment.

The Ukrainian Bar Association and the Charity Fund "Kind Hearts for Ukraine" as part of a charity initiative to help lawyers affected by the war also allocated funds for the treatment of Hennadii.

"My former colleague turned to the UBA with a request to help me. And they helped me, even though I am not a member of the Association. I am very grateful to everyone," says the man.

Later, Hennadii was transferred to Kyiv, and from there after some time he was taken to the Berlin clinic "Charité". This was the result of the joint efforts of the lawyer's colleagues, who agreed with the German doctors and quickly issued all the documents necessary for the transportation of Hennadii abroad.

READ ALSO: The UBA charitable assistance to lawyers. The story of a Kherson woman family that escaped from the occupation

Now the man is being treated in Berlin. Already there, he learned that as a result of the injury, his body was heavily infected and his life was in danger all this time. Fortunately, the infection was overcome. Hennadii's left arm has already healed. The right eye will be operated on: a cataract has formed there as a result of an explosive injury. The right forearm remains the most problematic.

"There are simply no ten centimeters in the bone. In Kyiv, a temporary implant was placed there, muscles and skin were transplanted, but, unfortunately, they did not take root. At “Charité" I had them removed, the implant was removed. The new skin was transplanted, it has already taken root. The bone has not been cast yet — they are deciding how and what to do because there are several options," Hennadii described the current situation.

In addition, two fingers on the man's right hand do not move at all due to a lack of muscle, so surgery will be required there as well. But, unfortunately, it will not be possible to completely return the hand to its natural mobility.

At Charité”

Hennadii claims that even after what he experienced, he does not regret his decision to defend the Motherland. The lawyer recalls how friends and acquaintances who learned about his predicament began to call and write to him en masse. Among them, there were even those with whom he had not communicated for 20 years.

“All these messages, emails, calls... Colleagues, friends... It's impossible to convey. I have never received such support from Ukrainians in my life. At such a moment, you understand why the guys are at the front. They need to know that all their efforts are not in vain, the contribution of each of them is invaluable. The people they protect know this, appreciate it, and will help,” the man is convinced.

After treatment, Hennadii will return to Ukraine, where his further fate will be decided by the military medical commission. If the commission comes to the conclusion that a man is partially fit for military service, he will most likely be transferred to some non-combat unit or headquarters. If Hennadii is found unfit, he will, according to him, continue to do what he has been doing — law. But the man hopes that he will still be able to continue his service.

Hennadii's opinion about what should be a full-fledged victory of Ukraine in this war does not differ from the opinion of the majority of Ukrainians.

"At the front, I saw people getting tired, burnt out, wanting to go home. But no one had any doubts about our victory. And no one had any doubt that the victory is exclusively the return of all territories," says the lawyer.

Many Ukrainian lawyers now need our support, so the Ukrainian Bar Association together with the Charity Fund "Kind Hearts for Ukraine" continue to implement this project. In order for as many lawyers and their families as possible to receive help, we call on patrons and simply caring people to join our charity initiative. You can make a small donation by following this link.

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