Taras Kostanchuk

Taras Dmytrovych Kostanchuk (Ukrainian: Тара́с Дми́трович Костанчу́к; born 9 March 1964) is a Ukrainian public activist. He is the leader of the civil organization "Military-Patriotic Association of the ATO participants "Justice" and the former commander of the assault group of the volunteer battalion “Donbas” (2014).[2] He is a former candidate for president of Ukraine[3] and a candidate for the People's Deputies of Ukraine.[4] He was demobilized in the spring of 2015.[5]

Taras Kostanchuk
Taras Kostanchuk.jpg
Native name
Тарас Дмитрович Костанчук
Birth nameTaras Dmytrovych Kostanchuk
Born (1964-03-09) 9 March 1964 (age 58)
Alchevsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
AllegianceSoviet Union Soviet Union (1983–1991)
Ukraine Ukraine (1992–present)
Service/branchEmblem of the National Guard of Ukraine.svg National Guard of Ukraine
Commands heldEmblem of the Donbas Battalion.svg Volunteer battalion “Donbas”
Battles/warsSoviet Army of the USSR, Grozny, Chechnya; war in the East of Ukraine
AwardsOrder of Merit 3rd Class of Ukraine.png Order of Merit 3rd Class Medal For military service to Ukraine ribbon.PNG Medal For Military Service to Ukraine....[1]


Taras was born on March 9, 1964, in the city of Komunarsk, Voroshilovgrad Oblast, the Ukrainian SSR (now known as Alchevsk, Luhansk Oblast) in the family of thermophysics. His mother is from Vinnytsia Oblast, whereas his father is from Kherson Oblast. Taras lived in Kyiv since he was 3 years old.

In 1981, Taras graduated from Kyiv secondary school with advanced study of mathematics No. 200. After school, he entered the Kyiv Medical College No.3.

From 1982 to 1984, Taras served in the Soviet Army in Grozny, Chechnya.

From 1985 to 1988, he studied at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Department of Biology).

In 1989, Taras went abroad to Italy, where he lived and worked until 1998.

In 1998, he returned to Ukraine, accepting his friend's proposal to take over the post of general director of CJSC “Agro-Transport Coordination Service” (ZAT “Ahro-transportna koordynatsiina sluzhba”).

From 2003 to 2008, Taras studied law at the Kyiv National University of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

Since 2007, he runs his legal practice as an entrepreneur.[6][7]


Public activity before the Revolution of DignityEdit

In 2005, Taras Kostanchuk, together with his comrades, founded a public organization "Archaeological Patriotic Search Association "Dnipro-Ukraine", which was engaged in the search and reburial of the remains of World War II soldiers. The organization operates in the present time on the territory of the Kyiv Oblast. The organization, for 7 years of its existence, recorded more than 800 soldiers, restored 106 names, and organized 17 mass and 11 single reburials.[8]

Under the direction of Taras Kostanchuk, the searchers created a large stationary museum of military archeology in Kyiv and 10 museums in secondary schools throughout Ukraine. There are more than 5000 exhibits in museums; 1774 units of explosive exhibits were transferred to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine for elimination.

External video
  "Захід "Благо Дарю" - відповідь волонтерам" on YouTube // Espreso.TV, 5 December 2015

Participation in the Revolution of Dignity (2013-2014)Edit

During the Revolution of Dignity (2013–2014) Taras was on the Maidan from the first days. As one of the oldest participants, Taras frequently had to take command and coordinate the actions of the activists. On the night of February 19, 2014, he held a rank along with other patriots, which became a shield against fire engines with water jets. The same day, Taras Kostanchuk received a blast injury and had his leg wounded due to a grenade explosion.[9]

Participation in Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO)Edit

In May 2014, Taras Kostanchuk with personal weapons went to Donbas, where he joined the so-called “men in black” who opposed the militiamen in several districts of the Donetsk Oblast. From June 1, 2014, he arrived to the training base in the village of Novi Petrivtsi (Kyiv Oblast), in order to train volunteers – who prepared to go to the ATO area.

External video
  "Donbass" battalion training at the Novi Petrivtsi village (2014)" on YouTube // Justice Ukraine, 2 June 2017

In early July 2014, after three weeks of training, Taras Kostanchuk joined a volunteer battalion "Donbas", and went with his comrades to the combat zone near Artemivsk.[10]

On the first night in the ATO area, the recruits of the battalion “Donbas”, being at the temporary base of the battalion in the Artemivsk school, fell under the tight fire of the enemy. Under the command of Taras Kostanchuk they managed to repel the fire and defend their positions without loss.

External video
  "Bishut tells of attack of militants in Artemivsk" on YouTube // Justice Ukraine, Summer 2014

Reflecting on the night attack of militants, the fighters of the battalion “Donbas” took active steps to liberate Artemivsk from terrorists, build checkpoints in and outside the city, as well as prepared for cleansing operation.[11]

In July 2014, Taras Kostanchuk as the commander of the assault group of the battalion “Donbas” with his comrades conducted the operations to liberate the Ukrainian cities of Popasna,[12][13] Lysychansk,[14] and Pervomaisk.[15]

Battle of IlovaiskEdit

Planning the storming of Ilovaisk

On August 10, 2014, the Armed Forces of Ukraine along with the fighters of the battalions “Donbas”, “Azov”, “Shakhtarsk” and “Right Sector” began an operation to liberate the city of Ilovaisk.[16]

General Ruslan Khomchak was planning the operation together with the commanders of the battalions. Kostanchuk also participated in the planning of liberation.[17]

The main task was to liberate Ilovaisk completely from terrorists and take the city. The minimum goal was to conduct the "developing attack" to understand the forces of the enemy. That task was fulfilled during the first entry in Ilovaisk on August 10, 2014. It was found that the enemy is well-positioned. The volunteer battalions needed the reinforcements.[18]

External video
  "Fight near Ilovaisk: volunteer battalions could not take the city" on YouTube // Radio Liberty Ukraine, 11 August 2014
External video
  "Ilovaisk. How it was" on YouTube // Denis Kazanskyi, 20 January 2016

On August 18, 2014, the fighters of the battalion “Donbas” entered with heavy fighting in Ilovaisk and were able to knock out terrorists from the eastern part of the city. During the battles, 3 checkpoints and 4 enemy firing points were destroyed.[19]

Until the morning of August 19, the ATO forces took control over most of the city.[20]

On August 19, 2014, during a combat task Taras Kostanchuk, having been seriously injured in his head and with a blast injury, got into encirclement in the center of Ilovaisk. Together with a comrade who was seriously injured in the leg, Taras went into hiding in a resident's house for 3 weeks.[21][22]

After 3 weeks, he was able to get out of the encirclement thanks to the help of local patriots.[23]

External video
  "Ilovajsk. The story of a fighter who came out of hell" on YouTube // Espreso.TV, 28 August 2016

Public activity after participation in ATOEdit

Immediately after treatment and short-term rehabilitation, Taras Kostanchuk began to take charge of the liberation of his comrades from captivity. He took part in negotiations with separatists, agreed on the exchange of prisoners, helped to bring them out of the ATO.

At the end of 2014, Taras Kostanchuk along with his military comrades created a civil organization "Military-Patriotic Association of the ATO participants "Justice". The purpose of the organization is to protect the interests of ordinary citizens, fight against arbitrariness and corruption of officials, as well as assistance to the former ATO participants.[24]

External video
  "Justice" Press conference of the "Battalion Donbass" Soldiers" on YouTube // "Battalion Donbass", 15 January 2015

The organization has its representative offices in several cities of Ukraine. In August 2015, the "Justice" office was opened in the city of Vyshneve, Kyiv oblast. The organization includes activists, volunteers, public representatives and entrepreneurs, in addition to soldiers. The organization "Justice" currently has thousands of participants.

External video
  "The opening of the Justice office in Vyshneve" on YouTube // Ukraine Justice, 6 September 2015

The results of the activity of CO "Justice" were large-scale actions against the arbitrariness of some public authorities, demonstrations, and petitions to the President of Ukraine on the protection of the rights of volunteers, large-scale actions of direct action to protect the interests of Ukrainian citizens. In particular, Taras Kostanchuk worked personally on the amendment to the Law of Ukraine on social protection of reservists suffering as a result of participation in the ATO, and their family members. The main purpose of these changes is the equivalence of volunteers, who were sent to the ATO zone illegally from May to December 2014 in the status of reservists, to military personnel, and thus to overcome injustice in providing social benefits and other assistance to soldiers.[25][26]

The law was voted by deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and signed by the president of Ukraine as a result of repeated pressure on officials during the public actions, disclosure of this problem in the media, and personal involvement of Taras Kostanchuk in drafting the law.[27]

External video
  "From Reservists to Participants - Windows-News - September 24, 2015" on YouTube // Windows-News, 24 September 2015

At the beginning of 2015, Kostanchuk, along with the fighters, who went through the Battle of Ilovaisk, and the families of the dead soldiers, founded the Ilovaisk Brotherhood, which at present has more than two thousand members, comrades from different units of the Ukrainian armed forces and volunteer battalions.[28]

The members of the Ilovaisk Brotherhood helped each other to coordinate actions, shared information about the wounded, captured, and dead soldiers.

By the first anniversary of the Ilovaisk tragedy (August 2015), the members of the Ilovaisk Brotherhood introduced the award "Ilovaisk 2014" as a cross. Only Ilovaisk fighters, or the families of dead or missing soldiers, have the right to receive it.[29][30][31][32]

After several joint actions of the Ilovaisk Brotherhood from December 2015 to February 2016 with the demands to punish the culpable in the most massive tragedies of modern Ukraine (Savur-Mohyla, IL-76, Donetsk airport, Ilovaisk, Debaltseve), under pressure from ATO veterans,[33] Taras Kostanchuk was invited to get acquainted with criminal proceedings concerning the Ilovaisk tragedy, and received admission to the proceedings files.[34][35]

In March 2016, the CO "Justice", headed by Taras Kostanchuk, took part in the unifying congress of civic organizations and publicly announced its intention to change officials who came to power on the blood of patriots. Taras Kostanchuk offered soldiers and ATO veterans to go-to power in one team.[36]

At the end of April 2016, Taras Kostanchuk visited Zagreb, where he had several working meetings with veterans of the liberation war in Croatia. They shared their experience of the success of the Serb de-occupation operation and also talked about the influence and direct participation of veterans in the political and public activities of Croatia. According to Taras Kostanchuk, this experience should be taken from the Croats to win the war and restore the occupied territories of Ukraine.[37][38]

From March to November 2016, Taras Kostanchuk and his colleagues from the CO "Justice" visited Ukrainian cities, where he spoke with local citizens and ATO participants. At these meetings, he presented the program "Army of Dignity," which aimed at uniting fighters, ATO veterans, non-indifferent and active citizens around a common idea – the creation of a democratic, European state of Ukraine.[39][40][41][42][43]

Taras Kostanchuk considers introducing the "presumption of guilt" of civil servants as one of the first steps to overcoming corruption in Ukraine. When an official can not explain the legality and source of the capital he/she has acquired, he/she must become automatically a suspect in corruption and prove his/her innocence in a court:

It is necessary to propose to the Anti-Corruption Parliamentary Committee a draft law that cancels the presumption of innocence to civil servants for a long time. Each civil servant who can not explain, where he/she has money to buy expensive cars, watches, or money in cash at home, will be convicted for long-term corruption with a confiscation of property.[44]

On June 8, 2017, Taras Kostanchuk along with his comrades initiated the creation of the ATO Veterans' Council on Ethics and Morality to fight against pseudo-ATO organizations that use combatants in illegal schemes.[45]

In August 2017, before the third anniversary of the Ilovaisk tragedy, Taras Kostanchuk together with the association “Ilovaisk Brotherhood”, as well as other ATO members, members of the dead soldiers’ families, organized a large-scale action under the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine with demands to provide at least interim results of the investigation:

We wrote three simple demands – to make the episode of Ilovaisk tragedy a separate criminal proceeding, to give everything to the court, to identify who is guilty and who is not, and third is to rehabilitate the guys who were sentenced for desertion, and to bring the commanders to responsibility for leaving their positions.[46]

On December 12, 2017, the CO "Justice", headed by Taras Kostanchuk, signed an agreement with international investors on the transfer of innovative technologies to Ukraine in the agro-industrial sector. The main idea of this initiative is to reduce the existing technological and cultural gap and to use this unique opportunity for cooperation between the two countries in the interests of each of them. To this end, ATO participants with their lands for agriculture can be involved.[47]

Charitable activity. Establishment of the charity fund to support the ATO participants "Justice"Edit

At the beginning of 2016, Taras Kostanchuk created a charity organization "Justice", which was aimed at helping the wounded soldiers and ATO veterans, the families of the dead and missing soldiers, as well as the children of ATO participants.

During two years the organization carries out events for children for various holidays, provides material assistance to the needy soldiers and their families, organizes children's rest.[48]

In June 2017, Taras Kostanchuk along with fighters and volunteers of the charity fund "Justice” organized an action in support of an oncologic patient – a niece of Oleksii Dreval, who died in Ilovaisk in 2014. Together with the family of the girl and non-indifferent citizens, they conducted several actions under the walls of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine with demands to provide money (or letter of guarantee) from the state to carry out bone marrow transplantation operations for oncologic patients.

Thanks to the joint efforts, the girl was able to obtain an informational (guarantee) letter from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and conduct an operation.



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