RUSTAM GUSEINOV from Citizens of Kyiv. series

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20 x 28" (52 x 70cm)

Alexander Chekmenev (Luhansk-Kyiv), 1969-present
Citizens of Kyiv. Color photography, February–March 2022

Rustam Guseinov, 57, a resident of Odessa since 1993, was working in the building trades in Kyiv when the invasion began. He turned up in a food kitchen for a meal and did not leave. “I came here to eat, and I just said, ‘I should help,’” he said. A former soldier in the Soviet Army, Guseinov fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s as a reconnaissance scout in the country’s northern and western provinces, including from a small outpost near Herat. His experiences as a soldier both softened his views and hardened his demeanor. “I am generally against any war,” he said. To Guseinov, the shelling of Kyiv feels familiar, an echo of his youth. “When I was in Afghanistan, it happened three times a day,” he said. He suggested that with rockets and missiles landing randomly, staying home was not safer than being on the streets. He opted to work alongside other volunteers to be part of Kyiv’s defense. At the field kitchen, he has been making sweet kompot, a treat to be served to those who remain.