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Oral History: The Russo-Ukrainian War Through the Eyes of Ukrainian Military Chaplains - Introduction

Oral History: The Russo-Ukrainian War Through the Eyes of Ukrainian Military Chaplains

Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

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1This second issue of Oral History focuses primarily on the Russo-Ukrainian War and features the testimonies of 10 Ukrainian priests collected between 2018 and 2019 as part of the ATO Oral History project. Launched in 2015, the ATO Oral History project aims to collect and publish oral testimonies of participants in and eyewitnesses to the Russo-Ukrainian War. The project’s name includes the initialism “ATO,” which refers to “Anti-Terrorist Operation,” the name announced by the Ukrainian government in the spring of 2014 for the operation to liberate territory seized by separatists, supported by the Russian government and army, in Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions. This project was carried out by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, with interviews conducted by institute members Tetyana Kovtunovych and Tetyana Pryvalko.

2The military chaplains interviewed herein represent several religious denominations and, at different times on a voluntary or contractual basis, performed pastoral ministry in various Ukrainian military units. Six are chaplains of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, two belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, one is a pastor at the To the Glory of God Evangelical Christian Church, and one is an imam and member of the Mercy Islamic religious community. The interviewees include one female chaplain; nine interviews were conducted in Ukrainian and one was conducted in Russian.

3The chaplains discuss a wide range of topics during the interviews, including their personal backgrounds, faith, involvement in military chaplaincy, the Maidan, the specifics of chaplaincy at the front during the Russian counterattack, the various stages of the institutional formation of chaplaincy in the Ukrainian army, the evolution of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine, heroism, homeland, fear, injuries and many other topics. We publish here the full transcript of their interviews. Videos of some of these conversations may be found online on the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory’s website.

4The second part of this issue inaugurates a new phase of our oral history project which is very dear to us: documenting the “other” side of Soviet and post-Soviet wars. We begin this new phase with the interview of Zalmaï, an Afghan refugee currently living in France who participated in the Afghan resistance during the Soviet-Afghan war. Through such interviews, we intend to highlight the human dimension of these wars and juxtapose the opponents’ points of view. We hope many more of such interviews from the “other” side will follow.

5We would like to thank Robert Wren Gordon, one of our volunteer editors, for his work on this issue.

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References

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Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski, « Oral History: The Russo-Ukrainian War Through the Eyes of Ukrainian Military Chaplains », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 22 | 2021, Online since 20 April 2021, connection on 21 January 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/pipss/6344 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/pipss.6344

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Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

PIPSS & EHESS

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CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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