Yuriy Matsarsky was a journalist before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the past, he reported from conflict zones around the world, including Iraq, Syria and the Gaza Strip. Now he defends his own country while also running a daily podcast, Fighting for Ukraine, to keep the world updated on current events as they unfold.
My name is Yuri Matzarsky. For more than 20 years I’ve been a journalist. I’ve been a journalist in really, really different situation, in really different places. I worked as a journalist, the reporter in United States, in United Kingdom. But mostly I was working in journalists in a really bad place. So, for example, I was covering the situation close to Fukushima nuclear station in Japan right after the blast wear. And I worked as a journalist in a whole bunch of wars in the Middle East, starting from Gaza Street and ending for Iraq and Syria. So only a month ago, less than a month ago, I was a journalist, I was a guy who I have my own radio show, daily radio show. I have TV presence. I wrote few articles every week for different Ukrainian and not only Ukrainian news sites. Now, for almost a month, I’m just a soldier, I have my sold rifle, I have my bullet Professor, I have some kind of link which is tying me to my new profession, with my old profession. This is my helmet, because I was doing it, because I spent a lot of time in the wars. Of course, I have had helmets with huge black helmets with white letters press on it. But on the first day of war, I took the marker of my daughter and painted black, always huge white letters press. That’s how my journalist helmet, my press helmet became my work helmet. It’s with me also. You know, as millions of other people, I discovered that we were started just because, you know, Rockets were firing right behind the roof of my house. So I was waking up at about 05:00 because I think it was the sound of Ukrainian anti Rockets which intercepted Russian Rockets, which are targeting and surroundings of the cave. So I looked at the window and I saw that all the skies, it was like liking. It was a lot of lightning all around. And it was with sounds of bombardment. I really know the sound of bombardments really good, because I was a journalist. So my first thought was about my family. My first thought was about my daughter. And I thought to myself, oh, that’s great, she’s not in Ukraine now because she left Ukraine for vacations just four or five days before renovation started. And after that, I thought about my parents who lived at that time much closer to Russian border than me, because our family is in Harcheb. It’s only about 40 km away from border with Russia. So my parents who were aware and I called them and they said, oh, it’s okay. Of course, we are hearing blasts. Of course, we see everything which is going around us. But that’s okay, we will stay here. We will stay in Hark until everything is completed. But we could not stay in Harkey for long because few Rockets got into the house. It’s multi story house and no electricity, no water, no heating in the flat for more than a week. They live just in some kind of almost cave era, cave ages situation. No electricity, no water, no anything, no gas inside. You couldn’t prepare the food and you could not go away to buy this food because everything is closed. And even if something is open, it was dangerous to go out because every few minutes, Rockets or bombs were falling on the ground, on the streets, on the buildings. One of a friends of mine counted that Russians for just the first week of the war destroyed more buildings in Hark than Nazis during the whole Second World War. You see, they destroyed more buildings for two weeks when Nazis in the same harsh destroyed for Second World War. So you should understand anything. Anyone should understand it where targeted, not military installation. Where targeted, not some kind of military base or something like this. No, we are targeting civilian districts. We’re targeting houses, were targeting hospitals, including maternity hospitals. The school to which my daughter learned for a while in Harry Kit, in this school, you grant Rockets came, it’s destroyed. There is no school at all, as I read where I’m moving, 50 schools in Hartford destroyed it’s in only one city. In only one city, 50 schools destroyed by bombs and Rockets. So these people who are doing this, I don’t know, I can’t call people can’t call them people at all. No, people don’t do things like that. Nazis do things like that. Isis do things like that. Russians do things like that. You see all these words about we are fighting to free Ukrainians from Nazis. We are fighting to free Ukrainians for some kind of inner Ukrainian enemies. It’s not for us. It’s not for me, and it’s not for you. It’s not for people in a free world. It’s only for people inside Russia, the Russian government, step by step for decades, we are building this huge propaganda machine, destroying one by one independent media or forcing people who are representing this Medus to flee the country or murdering there are a lot of cases of murdering journalists or politicians who does not agree with Putin and his government. So they ended up few years ago with completely different situational situation inside the country. It was just like during Nazi era in Germany. We don’t have any access to even to some kind of German language newspapers or radio stations from neighboring Switzerland. No, we don’t have access to it. We have only arch tumor or something like this. And it was the main goal of building such a propagandist media is to shield the roof, is to make some kind of smoke screen for the roof. If people in Russia, if someone will say to them, no, it’s not, Ruth, you are killing civilians. You are bombing hospitals. You are killing kids. You are killing pregnancy. Oh, no, it’s fake news because we have our media. It was step by step. It was work step by step, year by year, day by day, to build such monstrous propagandist machine. And it wasn’t built for us, as I told you, it was built for them. We are just like blindfolded. We don’t want to hear the truth. They don’t want to know that we are criminals. We don’t want to know that country is a country of murderers, of robbers and rapists. But this is the truth. We are a country of murderers, of robbers and the country of rapists. That’s the only truth. There is no other truth. There is no some kind of alternative truth. There is only one truth. And this roof is not so easy to accept for Russians. But of course, someday we will need to accept it. I’m so sorry for talking again about Second World War. I’m so sorry about talking again about Nazis, allies and so all our things from 30s and 40s from previous century. But let’s see what’s going on in Europe. When Hitler were preparing to invade and to occupy Czechoslovakia, all the free voter was telling, okay, it would be enough for him, okay, let’s give Czechoslovakia to him or it would be better for all of us. We don’t want to fight for these people. We don’t even know who are we don’t want to fight for some kind of slave people. We don’t even know who are we. Let’s give it to Hitler. Let’s give it to Hitler. And maybe we will buy piece with such an act, but you can’t. You cannot buy a piece if you have to deal with a maniac, you can’t buy a piece giving him something or someone and hoping that it would be enough for him. No, you can’t buy a piece. You can buy only time. But sooner or later, in any case, you will face him. You will face this man, you will face his Rockets, you will face his tanks and so on and so on. So I think it’s my opinion. I think it’s better to Europe, it’s better to United States. It’s better to NATO and European Union to stand right now with Ukraine while we are fighting. Because a lot of us, we are much stronger and it is much more difficult for any enemy to defeat us. So in my opinion, it’s time for Western civilization to take part in this war. First of all, because it’s not only a war against Ukraine, it’s a war against democracy. It’s a war against independence. It’s a war against freedom. First of all, we think that Putin and Russian elite hates most is freedom. We hate freedom. We don’t even like to hear this word. So I think he’s preparing some kind of terroristic barbaric act against European countries. It’s not in use for us because he already made such things. You can remember Salisbury in the United Kingdom, you can remember blasts in some kind of weapon storage warehouse, blasts which were also made by Russians. But a lot of bad things, really bad things, which were done and still doing by Russian intelligence service, by Russian spies, by Russian agents in European countries and in Western countries in common. Right now, I’m at the same time a soldier fixer for journalists and the journalists. And it was not my choice. I volunteered to the army. I joined the territorial defense units with only one goal, to be soldier. But, you know, in a few days after I joined, my commander came to me, ran into me with his eyes huge as I don’t know what. And he was pale from a fear, and he was shouting at me, what have you done? What have you done? I don’t know, what have I done? What headquarters we want to see right now. So let’s go to headquarters. So we went to headquarters just to discover that one of the commanders in chief, he was my listener during the peace time. So he discovered that one of his platoons were two guys who were journalists. We have volunteered me and my co host, the guy with whom we made our show, we joined the army together and we’re still in the same platoon. So this commander, he received a list with the names of his soldiers. And he saw our names and he said, oh, I know these guys. We’re a journalist and I want them to be here. So we came to headquarters, and this guy is one of the commanders told us, guys, we have a lot of requests from foreign journalists who are coming to EU who are visiting our positions. And I know that you were journalists, and I also know that you know foreign languages. So please, if you have time and if you are ready to please guide these guys, these foreign journalists, on our positions, beware fixers in here, arrange interviews and films for them. So I’ve spent during the time while we are writing these foreign journalists, I’m making my short stories about what’s going on and evening, I record it with my small recorder, which was with me since the Times of Peace. But at the same time, as I told you, we also soldiers. We have sold rifles. I have about six kilos of ammo on me. All my pockets are full of ammo. So we are Manning the checkpoints. We are doing the pattern in the streets. So we have three different jobs right now in the Ukrainian Army, I have a few words to sell to the Western world. And someone could find these words, roots or even aggressive. But I think I should tell them in this situation, in this war, which is unprovoked, which was undeclared and which is so brutal against Ukraine, anyone and everyone can be the hero and should be the hero in European countries without even taking arms in your hands. So you have two very, very easy choices. How to be a hero, how to save human lives, how to save Ukrainian lives. How to save freedom, how to save democracy. First thing is to help refugees who are still coming to European countries. It’s such a big deal because I’m the father of a refugee And I’m also a son of a refugee because my daughter is a refugee and my parents is a refugees in different countries now. And I can tell you as a guy whose relatives are now refugees, please help our people who are coming to Europe. It’s such a big deal you can spend a couple of dollars so you can buy a piece of chocolate, a piece of bread for a Ukrainian girl or boy but please do it for your own sake it’s not for only our sake. This is the first and this is the easiest thing to do. The second thing, I think it takes a little more courage but of course, this is really things that need to be done. Please, if you have some kind of free time, if you have some kind of courage in you take the streets of your cities, of your towns, of your villages even take streets, take squares and demand from your government demand from your statement the more military help, the more military aid for Ukraine. First of all, we need anti rocket systems, anti missile systems and we need more planes to protect our towns and our cities. We will not use these planes or we will not use these Rockets to target Russian cities no, we will use it only to protect our own civilians. We will use it only to protect kids, women, elderly person. And you can do it right now. You can save lives of innocent people, including small children right now and I can’t imagine how people going to sleep every night or going to some kind of date once an hour or going to work knowing that we can save Ukrainian children but not doing it it’s impossible I can’t imagine that someone will tell me you know you can save lives of people in our country just going to the street with some kind of a sign in your hands and to demand it from your government of course in this situation I left all the other businesses behind and I run to the street and for me it’s impossible to know that a lot of people all around the world know knowing what we can save life of Ukrainians knowing that we can save lives, women’s lives don’t do it it’s impossible for me.