“Already when the full-scale invasion began, the eldest daughter gave Yuri Alexandrovich a granddaughter”
– Yuriy Kovalenko was a bright versatile gifted person, had many friends, he was respected and appreciated by almost everyone he knew, – Svetlana Zhukova told FACTS. – Condolences over his death come even from colleagues from Canada and the United States. Kovalenko was engaged not only in science: he had a very good voice, so he sang with the guitar, he composed songs himself. Back in 1991, he participated in the Chervona Ruta festival with his author’s song. He played not only the guitar, but also the piano and button accordion. He was a member of the chamber choir.
Another of his hobbies was military archeology: with like-minded people from the search squad, he found the remains of soldiers who died during World War II. And after the Putin regime unleashed a hybrid war in the Ukrainian Donbas in 2014, Kovalenko took part in the Black Tulip humanitarian missions to search for bodies in the occupied part of Donbas and deliver them to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.
Yuri wanted to defend Ukraine with weapons in his hands, he was preparing himself to join the army. In 2020, he signed a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Then, together with his unit, he defended Ukraine on the demarcation line near Avdiivka, which at that time was a “hot spot”. But he found an opportunity to continue doing scientific work and in May 2021 he defended his dissertation.
– He met a full-scale invasion in the Donbass?
– No, in Glukhov in a military unit. In the first hours of the war, he participated in the battle near our city. The border with the aggressor state is only 12 kilometers from us. So on February 24 last year, we immediately found ourselves in a war zone.
– Did Kovalenko manage to visit his family in Glukhov in those days, to try to take her to the cities?
– No, it didn’t work. His family remained in the city.
– He has a big family?
– Wife Oksana (she works in the Glukhiv city council) and two daughters – Lesya and the younger Ivanka. Both were evacuated in Germany, now they came to the funeral of their father. Already when a full-scale invasion began, the eldest daughter gave Yuri Alexandrovich a granddaughter. The girl was named Barbara.
The youngest daughter was evacuated to Germany after the liberation of the Sumy region. And the eldest gave birth to a daughter in Glukhov, and after that she left with the child abroad – for the sake of safety.
“I couldn’t say directly where I was, so I spoke in hints that were understandable only to my own people”
Was Glukhov under occupation?
“Fortunately, this terrible fate has passed us by. Near our city there is a highway of national importance Moscow – Kyiv. But from this freeway to us 5 kilometers. Russian military columns walked along the highway, but did not enter Glukhov – they had other tasks. This saved us. In fact, we then found ourselves in a gray zone.
Enemy columns met near Baturin (it is located near Glukhov) powerful resistance from the defense forces of Ukraine. The bridge was blown up on the way of the enemy.
– Did your family and colleagues have the opportunity to keep in touch with Kovalenko?
– He made a phone call after the liberation of the Sumy region. It was impossible for him to speak openly on the phone where he was. Therefore, Yuri Alexandrovich spoke in hints, understandable only to his own: “I’m in the living room.” – “At Natalka?” – “Yes”. We understood – in Baturin.
– Looking for information about Kovalenko, I came across a message that he had serious health problems? This is true?
– To be honest, it’s true. But he hid this from military doctors because, as I said, he tried to defend Ukraine. He stubbornly engaged in physical training in order to successfully pass the army medical commission, so that he would not be told something like: “You are almost an old grandfather (he was 57 years old), and a soldier needs good health.”
After the Ukrainian Defense Forces sacked the Chernihiv region, Yuri Alexandrovich had to undergo treatment in a hospital. But still he returned to the army. At first he was on the Southern Front (he contacted us from there), and then he ended up on the Eastern Front and died there – in the Luhansk region.
Comrade and colleague of Yuriy Kovalenko Alexander Miroshnichenko, who is now in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, posted on his Facebook page a screenshot of a fragment of the correspondence with him. “Health is no longer important, because I am already in my mouth, there is no way out of here. So I give them handfuls of pills and try so hard to regain their health. Perhaps everything has its time … When your health somehow suddenly leaves you, it is probably impossible to return it in its previous form, ” Kovalenko told a friend.
Alexander Miroshnichenko wrote a touching appeal to his deceased comrade: “Master, friend, brother, from your body will sprout a vine strewn with clusters. We will make wine dry and tart, we will drink your sadness, the taste of life and wisdom. Peace in the native land, the land of the free.
“Yuri’s outstanding merit is that our reserve received the status of a national one”
— What did Yury Kovalenko say about his participation in the humanitarian missions of the Black Tulip in the occupied territory near Ilovaisk in 2014?
– From his stories about these expeditions, I remember that during the first such trip it was very scary, – Svetlana Zhukova answers. – “We were driving into the unknown,” Kovalenko recalled. “But someone had to do the job.”
Note that a year before the war, Yuri Kovalenko told sumy. today an amazing, almost mystical story that happened during the first mission of the “Black Tulip” to the occupied territory near Ilovaisk in early September 2014. Before leaving Glukhov for this expedition, Yury Aleksandrovich turned on the computer for a couple of minutes, opened a website for searching for missing ATO fighters and remembered that the middle name of one of them was Zygmundovich. When, later, near Ilovaisk, in a 30-degree heat, the mission members unearthed a temporary mass grave of Ukrainian soldiers, one of the dead had a chain peeking out of his pocket. Kovalenko pulled on it and pulled out a purse, and in it was an official ID named Goray Alexei Zygmundovich, an employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine! What a coincidence – the same Zygmundovich!
Expeditions of the Black Tulip mission took the bodies of hundreds of dead soldiers to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. During one of them, on the mass grave of the fallen soldiers of the 92nd brigade, the mission participants saw a cross tied with the Ukrainian flag (probably, one of the local patriots honored the dead in this way). The expedition exhumed the bodies, and Kovalenko took out this flag, wrapping it around himself and covering it with clothes. Yuri Kovalenko then said that none of the participants in the Black Tulip mission died during the expeditions. But after them, the heart of one participant could not stand it, and two (moreover, young people) had a heart attack.
– Was Kovalenko buried in Glukhov? – I ask Svetlana Zhukova.
– No. He bequeathed to his wife to be buried next to his parents in his small homeland in the village of Nekrasovo in Glukhovshchina, where he was born and raised.
Yuri Alexandrovich has been working with us since the establishment of the reserve in early 1999, when the recruitment of staff began. He was mainly engaged in archeology, was the head of the research department.
Initially, our institution was the State Historical and Cultural Reserve. Yuri’s great merit is that the reserve received the status of a national one. In 2008, when the 300th anniversary of the immemorial Baturin tragedy was celebrated (the army of Muscovy under the leadership of Prince Menshikov, the bloody henchman of Tsar Peter I killed all the inhabitants of Baturin) and the transfer of the hetman’s capital to Glukhov, the Museum of arch. All the artifacts that Yuriy and his colleagues found in Glukhovshchina became exhibits of this museum.
Earlier reported on the death of a fighter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, People’s Hero of Ukraine, a scientist at the University. Shevchenko, Candidate of Technical Sciences Andrey Kravchenko with the call sign “Flint”.
Read on “Censor.NET”: “Tomorrow the war will not end, one way or another everyone will be involved”: the defender of Ukraine lost his brother and nephew at the front
Photos from open sources
I am Joseph Zeman, a journalist who mostly covers world news for the Daily News Hack. I pride myself on being able to find and report stories that others might miss. I have a knack for being able to see both sides of every issue and this allows me to provide readers with well-rounded stories. In addition to my work as a journalist, I am also an author and have written several books on current affairs.