In memoriam of Harmash, the defender who planned to revive the hippie republic in Lviv

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The commemoration evening of Dmytro Pashchuk, a defender from Lviv killed by a kamikaze drone on March 12, took place in the «Republic of the Holy Garden» cafe. Dmytro planned to open this establishment in a few weeks.

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«His ideas ranged from the most realistic, which can be implemented in the evening, to something I would respond to: «Dmytro, don’t irritate me, because it’s nonsense.» He took sheets of paper and wrote ideas about the Republic. After that, he called the team: «Hello, what’s up? Did you bring the tree? And the boards? What about the walls? And what will the menu be? What are we going to do?» This is what Dmytro’s life looked like for a few hours a week, and sometimes even a day after completing a combat mission at the front,» – recalls Roman Lozynskyi, a fighter, MP, and close friend of Dmytro Pashchuk.

The evening in memory of Dmytro Pashchuk, a Lviv resident who was killed by a kamikaze drone in Kherson on March 12, begins at the «Republic of the Holy Garden» cafe. Pavlo planned to open this establishment in a few weeks in Lviv on the site of the former «Karmel» coffee shop. This is a symbolic place for Lviv. During the times of the Soviet Union, here existed the Republic of the Holy Garden. Located near the former church of the Discalced Carmelites, it was an island of freedom from the regime of that time, although a Communist Party district was just nearby. The Republic was a place of gathering for hippies and those who admired nationalist ideas. Only those who are interested in history remember this now.

Dmytro Pashchuk was like that. He graduated from the Faculty of Geosciences, was a soldier, a French legionnaire, and a restaurateur.

«When seeing something, he always said: «There will be a nut garden here, and here we need to organize the production of freeze-dried food. Maybe open a tire shop. But here there should be a farm, here a ranch. And here, in the mountains, we will make a rehabilitation center for soldiers and call it «Kryla», – recalls Dmytro’s brother.

As a result of such brainstorms, «Port» wine bar was born – Dmytro’s first institution, which he opened together with Ira Berezhnytska about four years ago. After «Port», they opened «Papi.Lviv» in the neighbouring premises on Valova street. As relatives recall, it was a space where people hugged, kissed, remembered various stories, ate delicious food, and drank good wine.

Even before February 24, 2022, Dmytro planned to create the «Republic of the Holy Garden». Despite performing combat tasks at the front, he always found time to unite the team and work on the concept of the new Lviv establishment.

«Today, on the eve of Dmytro’s memory, we are opening this establishment together with him. «Republic of the Holy Garden» at Vynnychenko Street, 20a is a special place full of stories. Dmytro would have been happy to meet everyone here,» – Roman Lozynskyi continues.

The evening of remembrance is crowded. «Plast» scouts are easy to recognize in the crowd. Harmash – the nickname Dmytro was given in «Plast» – was one of the founders of the «Carpathian Eagles» scouting unit in Ukraine. 

«His lifestyle brought us, very different people, here. Because here, not all of the «Plast» scouts, far from all of «Khlivchan» and «Port» members are present, not all from the geography faculty, not all fellows, not all punks,» – says Roman Lozynskyi.

Friends talk about Dmytro, they mention that the tradition of memorial evenings was started by Kurka – Artemiy Dimyd, his comrade who died on June 18, 2022. Together, they decided to spend the evenings of memory in «rounds». First a short round of stories, then watching a video story with memories, then time to chat. There are more and more people. Plastuns offer a way out: you can stand on one leg, as in the Plast game «Karemat».

The rooms are connected by a larger square arch and a narrow one with wooden birds under the ceiling. It is under them that friends and relatives are invited to share memories and tell stories related to Harmash.

«Dmytro loved birds very much. That’s what he named his sheepdog, which he took out from a front-line village. Now she is in the Frankiv region, not in the occupation or on the front line,» – explains Roman.

Vitya-Kolya, one of the four close comrades (Kurka, Vitya-Kolya, Kush and Frantsuz), approaches the improvised stage under the arch. He tells about his acquaintance with Dmytro, how they became friends, because «when you lie together under fire in each other’s arms, you have to get to know each other.»

«He kept promising to introduce me to someone because there was someone cool whom I didn’t know yet. But I’m sure you’re all here today. Harmash worked very hard for everyone he knew and loved. He was always ready to defend himself,» – says Vitya-Kolya. And he remembers how he and Dmytro came under heavy fire. They lived in such conditions, under hourly shelling, for five days:

«Once I went to Harmash with Kush for something to eat. He was without armour. The shelling began, and Harmash covered me with a mattress, hoping that it would protect me from the tank’s shots. He thought more of others than of himself. Harmash is very much about friendship and very much about love.»

Commander of the unit, in which Dmytro Pashchuk fought, the «cyborg» of the Donetsk airport, the colonel of «Alpha» – a special unit of the SBU, Roman Kostenko recalls how he was amazed at the courage, skill and enthusiasm of the «newcomers» when performing combat missions:

«Frantsuz and Kurka came to me. We talk about combat missions, and he says to me: «Commander, I have one wish.» At this time, Mykolaiv holding its defence, the tanks are moving, and he: «I want to jump from that TV tower.» «Republic» is filled with laughter.

Roman Kostenko says that not all professional soldiers agreed to perform such tasks as these guys did. And he adds that he did not expect that after so many years of propaganda and intimidation by the «Bandera followers» in the south of Ukraine, the boys from Halychyna would fight in the steppes of the Kherson region and die for this land.

«Most of the soldiers in my unit were Russian-speaking. Well, that’s how it happened. But after Dmytro, Kurka, and Roman joined us... When one of them came out to me and said «God bless you, commander!» I didn’t even know how to answer... The guys did it in two weeks,» – says Roman Kostenko and asks his fellow soldiers who else in the unit speaks Russian. In response, he hears a short: «No one else.»

The young men of Dmytro Pashchuk’s circle from Plast also came out to share memories of their teacher.

«Today, there are three of us, but in reality, there are many more. We didn’t communicate much, but when we met, he was very happy about our success, about the fact that he has already become a layer «grandfather», that our smokehouse is one of the largest in the world,» – says Oleh, nicknamed Vishchyi.

Comrade Ihor Sholtys is the last to speak in this round:

«On February 26, 2022, in the glorious city of Berdos, Artemiy Dimyd – Kurka joined our Sykhiv cohort and said: «Guys, a guy from the French Legion will join us.» Here we imagined Vin Diesel, and Dmytro arrives and introduces himself as Harmash. Can you imagine Harmash from the French Legion? That’s how we called him a French.»

According to him, Dmytro was ready to drive even through a blown-up bridge to save the lives of his close friends. He recalls how, after a missile hit their position, the fighter who was sent to fetch water a few minutes before he was the most injured:

«Stas is lying down. Wounded. He has fragments in his spine and in his liver. We started providing first aid. Suddenly, Dmytro flies out behind the wheel of a pickup truck, we laid Stas there and go to the hospital.»

He says that this half-hour journey was so dangerous that they could die without even taking part in combat. We had to overcome many obstacles.

A video story begins to be projected on the white wall.

«We are very worried and appreciate you very much», – with these words Dmytro begins his video, addressed to a comrade who flew out of a pickup truck during an extreme trip in search of a hospital.

Next on the video are footage from Harmash’s life: from the most serious to those that make everyone present at the commemoration evening laugh. In the tape, he dances, plays the violin, rides a scooter, plays hockey, swims, sings, travels, jokes and spends time in his native «Port». After watching the video, those present gather in companies and continue to tell stories about Dmytro. They begin to sing: «It was spring on earth, birds flew from the sky, and only the Khartsyz was unlucky on earth that day»... [Khartsyz – ethnosocial group in Ukraine, Donetsk region].

Iryna Davosyr, translated by Vitalii Holich

Photo by Ivan Stanislavskyi, Tvoe Misto

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