Conflicts & War

The Dynamo Kyiv fans swapping the terraces for the front

By Marcel Gascón

Kyiv, March 15 (EFE).- Hundreds of supporters Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine’s most successful and prestigious soccer club, have swapped their replica jerseys and fan scarves for combat uniforms, drones and weapons to join the fight to repel Russia’s invasion.

“Since December, I have been deployed in Bakhmut,” Andrii Korenivskyi, who runs a business selling team merchandise online, tells Efe.

The 39-year-old decided to volunteer to join the army in May after the Ukrainian troops pushed the invading forces out of Kyiv and its surroundings.

He started by coordinating aid sent in by fans from all over Europe at the Corner Pub, where Dynamo supporters meet to watch their team’s matches in empty stadiums due to the threat of bombardments.

Despite his lack of military experience, Korenivskyi quickly learned how to operate drones and took part in aerial intelligence tasks that were aimed to liberate the southern city of Kherson last year.

He has spent the past three months in Bakhmut, the besieged eastern Ukrainian city that is at the center of an increasingly fierce battle between Ukrainian and Russian troops.

“Many Russian soldiers are common criminals who go on the frontline like zombies, stepping over the bodies of their own dead comrades,” Korenivskyi says, referring to inmates recruited by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group leading the fight in Bakhmut.

Yaroslav Movchun, another Dynamo fan who has taken up arms to defend his country, enlisted in February last year after he saw Russian soldiers just 10 kilometers away from the farm where he lives with his family in the city of Zhytomyr, west of the capital Kyiv.

“At that distance, you have less than two hours to escape, and even if you have a weapon at home it is of no use to you,” the 40-year-old says.

After five days of intensive training alongside other Ukrainian volunteers who had no idea how to use a weapon, Movchun helped stop the advancing Russian army by handling Soviet-era RPG rocket launchers and NLAW anti-tank small arms provided by the United Kingdom.

Movchun then went on to train other volunteers on how to use various types of weapons.

Both Korenivskyi and Movchun mourn the deaths of their fellow supporters who have died defending their country at the front. The Dynamo ultras Facebook page has gone from posting photos of flares and flags to obituaries and donations to better equip the army.

Many Dynamo fans now fighting against Russia sport the stylized D of their club’s badge on their uniforms.

“Dynamo is a national symbol, it is part of the history of our country and we are proud of it,” says Movchun facing the Corner Pub’s walls adorned with pictures of club legends such as Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Andriy Shevchenko.

Both Korenivskyi and Movchun pine for the days when they could go to the stadium and travel with the team all over Europe, and urge the West to send more military aid to secure a Ukrainian victory that would put an end to their country’s occupation and the deaths of their fellow supporters. EFE


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