Documentary performance “Me, Veteran”: Eleven stories of people who returned from war


Eleven soldiers who fought in the Eastern Ukraine will share their personal stories in an experimental performance, accompanied by military orchestra.

Kyiv, October 4, 2016. A unique documentary performance “Me, Veteran” will be held on October 7. In the framework of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs project “MFA Open Air 2016”.  11 soldiers who fought in the Eastern Ukraine will share their personal stories from the frontline in a free experimental performance, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Separate Presidential Regiment Guard of Honor. The event will start at 18:00 at the entry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It is very important for me that in these stories there is no excessive pathos, even if we can’t avoid it completely. These stories will be true stories, things that we used to discuss sitting with a huge cup of tea when we were there, at the frontline,” said Andriy Kozinchuk, military psychologist and project participant, announcing the event at a press briefing in Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Scriptwriter Natalya Vorozhbyt helped us to arrange these stories. She did not change the content, she only provided recommendations how to arrange everything that veterans wanted to tell in their story,” noted Daria Koltsova, artist and project curator. Stories will be accompanied by subtitles in English. There is no strict approved story structure that the storyteller has to comply with, for this reason this will be not an exact translation but direct quotes of the veterans written down when the scriptwriter worked with their stories.

The project is organized by joint efforts of a number of institutions, organizers and actors, such as MFA Public Diplomacy Department team, NGO “Pobratymy”, TV channel “TSN” and magazine “VIVA” project “The Winners”, as well as founder of “IDPs Theatre” Natalya Vorozhbyt, artist Daria Koltsova, sound director Yefim Baytler and stage director Kostyantyn Klyatskin.

The aim of the project is to reveal true image of those who returned from war. “Unfortunately people have a lot of stereotypes about what one returning from the frontline, and they are not always ready to hear these stories,” explained Ivona Kostyna, author of the idea, NGO “Pobratymy”. Moreover, added Andriy Kozinchuk, we can often hear about duality “veteran – society”. “In fact, the veterans are part of this society. We want this event to become a platform where these dualities will be united,” he explained. “These stories are neither victims’ stories, nor stories of aggressive people. Veterans are the same people as we are, but with a unique experience,” emphasized Daria Koltsova. “They are those who know real value of life, those who know what and why they want to do in it, those who love and cherish their families. These people come back to their dreams, to their old goals that remained only an idea – and start their life from the very beginning. Their life stories could teach us a lot of things”.

The performance will be an opportunity to engage the veterans and NGO from the audience into various projects related to physical rehabilitation and physical adaptation of the veterans. “Projects presentation for the guests will take place after the performance,” noted Oksana Gorbach, director of Production Hub StratComUA.

According to Anatoliy Solovey, head of Public Diplomacy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, by this event the MFA also wanted to express gratitude to countries who offered treatment for wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Mr. Solovey noted that this project is aimed to show the MFA not only as political, but also a cultural space that is open for cooperation with civil society. “We have a clear understanding that our own efforts are not sufficient for successful public diplomacy: it results from a synergy, from interaction between public sector and non-governmental actors. One of our tasks today is to build a clear state mechanism that would make it possible to organize such projects on a regular basis. […] We will seriously consider possibility of organizing a common project that would be interesting not only for Ukrainian audience,” stressed Anatoliy Solovey. Daria Koltsova added that this event is very important in the context of cultural diplomacy as a soft power that provides opportunity to tell more about Ukraine to the word.

Ivona Kosyna and Andriy Kozinchuk noted that the work on this project has proved that there is a real “window of possibilities” for cooperation between NGOs and state authorities. “The main thing for the NGOs is to come up with initiatives. As you can see, there is response,” noted Ivona Kostyna. She added that these pilot projects help to define an algorithm of cooperation not only between the civil society and the state, but also business as a third actor. “The most fruitful interaction happens when its participants are the state, the civil society and business. Only this consensus makes it possible to implement successful projects in our country”, she emphasized. This is the case of “Me, Veteran”, created in partnership with representatives of all these sectors: the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, public bank “Oschadbank”,   Zinteco Design & Engeneering, StratcomUA, 1+1 and “Armiya.FM” radio station.