Сергій Ізотов Serhii Izotov

* 1955

  • “...And I had a night shift job. On both sides. On our side, those were flares. They would illuminate with blue light five times, and then after 10 minutes, the shelling would begin. They showed. It was their spotters on our side showing where exactly to shoot. I had to shoot them from the third light at most. I'll tell you, I'm in shock about what will happen when we liberate the territories of Donbas. How will life be there? Because there are people... The people I fought with were incredibly intelligent people, they were carefully selected. Calm. There was a dry law. No one said: “You can't”. People just didn't drink. I wouldn't call myself a great beer lover, but after a month or a month and a half, I craved beer like someone who's about to die. They say: “Where are you going?” Guys, around 35 years old. “To the store, I want to buy some beer”. “Oh, wait for us, just only go there with us”. “Why only with you? Do we need permissions?” “Come with us”. I went without a weapon because I would hand it over in the morning and take it in the evening. A Drahunov sniper rifle. Of course, in uniform. I arrive there. And there are these women standing near the store, who could be 30 or 50 years old. Well, they have those legs, a robe, a jacket on top. About 10 people are standing there. “Why did you come here?” In Russian: “Why did you come here? What do you want? Did we invite you? We're fine here, we're ok. I curse your mother, I curse all of your relatives, I curse you! You've ruined our lives!” And one of them took a big stone. “And now I'm going to smash your head, and that's how you'll stay here”. And, like in a movie, two shots. I look around — my guys with rifles. They scattered them with curses. They say: “The first shot at the legs, the second in the head”. I say: “Are we protecting them? What will happen afterward?' They say: “We're not protecting them, we're protecting our territories, our lands. We'll see what happens next”. Back then, I wasn't just disappointed. I was shattered by it. That was the contact. I'm not saying that it's the entire local population of Debaltsevo. There, on the outskirts of the city, there's a little shop, like we have many of those — a one-story shack where you could buy something...”

  • “Those three days on Maidan, when things were the toughest, I went with the guys I served with in the army. They found me, and we went to Maidan together and remembered... They were special forces who had been demobilized decades ago. But we stood there. I had a pistol with rubber bullets. They had them too. And for those three days, exactly three days, we stood there. I lived at Pechersk area, about a kilometer away from the Verkhovna Rada. There, where Kyivmiskbud is, a tall building. That's where my apartment was, my house. And there were a lot of guys living with me. Then, when the war started, one went, another went. I thought to myself: “Why am I sitting here? I feel ashamed. Why am I sitting here?” Not because I'm ashamed. Because I don't want it to be the way that Party of Regions guys want it. Then, through acquaintances, they took me. I wasn't there for long, I won't lie. I was there for only two months, in Debaltsevo. It was October-November-beginning of December. A little over two months. And then young, well-prepared guys came, snipers. I worked there with all my heart. To live in a country and not be involved? I've met people who said: “I'm apolitical, I'm an artist. I paint, I sing. It doesn't matter to me which flag I have or what anthem I have”. Arguing with them is a futile task. It's like arguing now with the Russians about who attacked whom. It's a futile task. I don't argue. What's the point? I know. I have my own vision, my own beliefs. I firmly adhere to them. And I am confident that everything will be on our side, everything will be fine”.

  • “I had to submit documents to the Minsk Philharmonic. I came to submit the documents, and there was a lady sitting there, like in all personnel departments, in the HR department. She asked: “Why do you have a Kyiv registration?” I said: “I guess I was just unlucky to be a Kyiv citizen”. In reality, I was always proud to be a Kyiv citizen. And I would say that my nationality was “Kyiv citizen”. I loved Kyiv very much, back then and even now, of course. It's not the same anymore. In youth everything is better, you understand. But it was greener, not as developed. There weren't these high-rises in Kyiv that could block the entire landscape, change and spoil the view. Well, that's how it was. So, I said: “Kyiv registration”. She said: “No, we can't accept you. You have to deregister in Kyiv and register here in Minsk. But it will be very difficult”. Muliavin said: “We'll do everything. Come on, deregister”. In those times, the 70s and 80s, getting registered, especially in Kyiv, even if you were a Kyiv citizen, was almost impossible. It cost two and a half thousand rubles. Almost like a cooperative apartment. And I didn't have a strong desire for it. And I said: “I don't know what to do. Maybe I'll go to Kyiv”. “No, no, let's do a labor agreement”. But with the labor agreement, they would admit me for three months, and then they would renew it. I didn't care about that. But they admitted me as a lighting technician, a stage master. And I would go on stage and sing. I was somewhere between 20 and 30 years old. As you understand, at that age, you don't care about anything. But then, further...more...we started touring. It was very interesting. Changing cities, being warmly welcomed, applause, flowers, fame. Girls”.

  • “In charge of this expedition was... someone was in charge. You know, that there's the manager in the office, and on-site there's the main manager. Well, on-site it was Oleksandr Avakian, whom I met. He was not just extraordinary. He was a unique person. Now, at the corner of Volodymyrska Street and Desiatynnyi Lane, there's a house. And on the second floor, there's a small plaque that says, “Sasha Avakian lived here”. I don't even know where to begin telling about him. He was a larger-than-life individual. He founded the first vocal-instrumental ensemble in Ukraine that sang in Ukrainian. The band was called “Berezen”, and later “Maria Oranta”. Wonderful songs. He had an Armenian last name. His mother was Estonian, and his father was Armenian. He wrote in Ukrainian. The band... Vyacheslav Kryshtofovych, now a well-known film director. Valera Viter, who sang and still sings in “Kobza”. He is the lead singer of this ensemble. He’s its face, its business card. By the way, Valera considers himself more of an artist than a singer. He is a member of the Artists' Council of Ukraine and a poster artist. Just as good of a poster artist as a singer. There are songs that just touch your soul. “Duma about Bozhenko”, “Unwed Love” and others. He [Avakian] gathered boys, juvenile delinquents who were supposed to be sent to prison or correctional facilities. He took them under his wing. Together with them, he built on Rybalskyi Island. He built the brigantine “Rakhuba”, and there's a song called “Rakhuba”. Those boys who listened to him were not allowed to drink or smoke anything. They were little criminals. Sania passed away. He was killed in 1988. Heroes of the Soviet Union, submarine commanders, various academicians who he mentored, came to his funeral. They were his disciples, who could have been prisoners. Then he became involved in speleology...”

  • “I had a pretty good knowledge of the English language. My father sent me to study from the age of six. I learned English with the teacher. And my mother took me to the Sofiiskyi Cathedral, to the Lavra, to museums, various icons... She had good knowledge of art. She would tell me about that. This way, my knowledge of the English language, some knowledge of icons, the ability to communicate with people, and the desire for profit all came together. I got to know people from Podil who painted icons similar to those from the 17th -18th centuries. At that time, in 1972, the “Lybid” hotel had just opened, and as they said, I was “capturing firms”, “recording firms”. Well, I met foreigners there, and I offered them icons, counterfeits. They paid in dollars. In 1972, I could tell which dollars were fake and which were not. I must say that at that time, if you had more than five dollars in your pocket, that was already a risk of being imprisoned. They could imprison you for having foreign currency. There was a separate article for contact with foreigners, by the KGB. The happiness didn't last long. I managed to buy some stuff, as they called them at that time, “foreign cats”. And those brigades began their work. I went to my father, who was working, let's say, in the security forces... I told him about the situation. He was shaving at that time. He said: “Well, what can I tell you, son? You're facing five or six charges. Two by the KGB, the others by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They won't shoot you. They won't give you 15 years. Well, you'll get around 12 years. You're 18 now. You'll be released at 30. You'll have your whole life ahead. You'll get a job at some factory, a cable plant, as a third-grade locksmith. You'll marry a girl from the worsted combine. You'll get a room in a communal apartment. First, you'll buy a fridge on installment, then a TV. You'll live like regular people. Everything will be fine. What do you want from me?” He was a colonel at that time and was about to receive the rank of general in the nearest future... I said: “Dad, I'm not worried about myself, I'm worried about you” – “Why would you worry about me?” – “Well, I'll say in court that I learned English with your, let's say, blessing. Thanks to Mom, I know all the charms of Old Slavic. So, not only will you not become a major general, you won't even become a major”. It was the first blackmail in my life. On the one hand, it hit the mark because I didn't end up in prison, but on the other hand, it missed the mark because I swept away all the cobwebs from the ceiling with my backside. It was the first and last time he gave me such a “slap”. And within three days, while the case involved 47 or 48 individuals, I was sent to the urban-type settlement Desna, the Fourth Separate Airborne Engineering Battalion. Special Forces”.

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I stay on my native land

While serving in the army
While serving in the army
zdroj: family archive

Serhii Anatoliiovych Izotov was born in Kyiv on June 3, 1955. From 1962 to 1972, he studied successfully at a Kyiv secondary school and at the specialized Mykola Lysenko music school at the Kyiv Conservatory, specializing in piano and violin. He entered the Ivan Karpenko-Karyi Kyiv National University of Theater, Cinema, and Television, on the Department of Acting, but interrupted his studies due to service in the Soviet army. After being discharged, he enrolled in the Faculty of Philology, where he became interested in ancient Russian chronicles and graffiti. He participated in archaeological expeditions in the Lavra Caves and excavations of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pyrohoshcha. As a musician and vocalist, he performed as part of the Belarusian vocal and instrumental ensemble “Pisniary”. He was an active participant in the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. In 2014, he was mobilized into the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where he served as a sniper in Debaltseve, Donetsk region. After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, he joined the forces of the territorial defense in Kyiv and engaged in volunteer activities. In 2023, he was preparing for the publication his scientific work, “On the Place of the Performance of ‚The Tale of Igor‘s Campaign‘ and Its Author”.