Welcome to ATO: a civil volunteer who looks surprisingly similar to Barak Obama has been photographed at Avdiivka. A fact or a Photoshop? Continue reading this amazing story of a photograph.
The first impression from this photo: former U.S. president kept his word to support Ukraine and came to the frontline to check the situation.
The second impression — it has been photoshopped. It just cannot be real: the man resembles Obama so much, but is wearing Ukrainian uniform with Ukrainian chevrons.
The story of this photograph is a part of a bigger, more fascinating story, part of Ukraine’s modern history, with its drama behind it.
This photograph is not fake; it shows Maidan hero Oleksandr Zhamoido, a former metro train operator, volunteer, and leader of the Right Sector of Sviatoshyn district of Kyiv. His callsign in Tsyhan, but his friends are now asking him to change it to Obama. Zhamoido spoke with Censor.NET:
“I am 50, a resident of Vyshneve [Kyiv larger area – ed.], a father of two kids — a daughter of 28 years and a son of 23 years. I worked as a Kyiv metro train operator for 13 years, then at a gas station, and two years prior to Maidan I was a taxi driver at my old Zhiguli. It was enough to survive. On Feb. 18 [2014 – ed.] at around 5 p.m., I was driving home when I heard a call of Andrii Parubii [one of Maidan leaders, now Rada speaker – ed.] to Kyiv residents: “All head to Maidan, they are going to attack.” So I did.
“At around 6 p.m. I joined a group of Maidan activists defending a barricade at Instytutska Street. Two water cannons arrived and destroyed the barricade. We retreated down to Khreshchatyk Street, to the Trade Unions building. We decided to stop the Berkut fighters, threw stones at them; then Molotov cocktails appeared. I was throwing them as well. … Anyway, the Berkut fighters retreated, and we followed them — we wanted to set the water cannon on fire. I was not aiming at Berkut guys.
“It was around 10:15 p.m. The Maidan was lit by fire from the burning camp. … I am standing at a white tent near columns, and a group of Berkut fighters is so close — some 30-40 meters. I was standing half-turned to them, with a ‘cocktail bottle’ in my hand. And then I see as if in a slow motion as the row of the Berkut fighters slides apart, and a shooter with a rifle appears down there aiming at me. I can see but I cannot react: just like in a movie! And so he shot! The expertise found later that I was shot with a case-shot of Fort-500. That’s illegal. I was hit point blank with eight canister shots: four in my leg, one in my arm, one in a buttock, and two in my abdomen.
“I was taken to the Trade Unions building, and medical worker Stas from Western Ukraine (I managed to found him later) offered me first aid. I was still able to walk, and the Trade Unions building caught fire, so I decided to leave. I took my Zhiguli and left. I refused to go to a hospital, for I was afraid I would be kidnapped by policemen — it was quite clear where I got my wounds.
“So I went home. But as I approached a parking lot, I felt worse. I called my son: “Zhenia, pick the car, I am at the parking lot.” That moment I lost consciousness. I came out of it to someone tapping my cheek. It turned out I blocked the entrance to the bus parking lot. They thought I was drunk and started scolding me, but then they saw the bandage. Soon my son arrived and took me away to Boiarka hospital. I was so scared the doctors would seize me to the authorities. But the doctor got it right and told me not to be afraid: his entire brigade were Maidan regulars.
“When Maidan participants from Boiarka learned they had a wounded in the local hospital, they immediately arrived! They circled the hospital and guarded me in it. I was so lucky to get into hands of great doctors. They saw my abdomen wounds and realized they were grave.
“The canister shot impacted my liver and pierced my colon and small bowel. I had peritonitis because I didn’t ask for aid straight away. They needed to operate on me immediately, but the surgery started only at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 19. I was operated by surgeon Iryna Kandaurova, the doctor with 45 years of experience. She still works there and is an amazing person!
“… On Feb. 27 me and 11 gravely wounded Maidan activists were taken to Czech Republic for treatment. One of us, Yurii Sydorchuk, was in coma and died there without regaining consciousness. The rest of us came back.
“The doctors brought me back from the other world, I was so lucky. I must be needed here for some purpose.
“For me, the revolution is not over. I am currently heading the Kyiv Sviatoshyn district organization of Right Sector Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. I have the 3rd degree disability.
“On Easter eve, we packed out five-ton truck with presents, paskas [traditional Easter bread – ed.], eggs, and left for the frontline with my friend Eduard Kopylov to greet our fighters. Eduard wrote about it. We are grateful to everyone who helped us gather the aid and organize the trip. The goal was to visit Right Sector volunteer groups, but we ended up visiting every unit from Avdiivka to Volnovakha.
“At Avdiivka, Eduard made me put on a helmet as we were entering the positions of the 72nd Brigade. I put it on, and Kopylov photographed me and uploaded the image on the internet. Volunteer Yurii Mysiahin reposted the photo, and it suddenly became popular. It ’ s so funny. Now my friends demand that I took a new callsign, and call me Obamych. Well, that’s funny, but we will keep on visiting [the frontline – ed.].
“Next time we will go and help kids in orphanages in the ATO [anti-terrorist operation –ed.] area. We were planning to help our fighters, but the kids need much more help. We are fighting for their future.”
On Feb. 18, 2017, president of Ukraine awarded Oleksandr Liudvyhovych Zhamoido with “For Courage” III degree decoration for his active participation in the Revolution of Dignity.
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET