A Vancouver Island man who volunteered to fight in Ukraine has been killed in action.
Port Alice’s Grygorri (Greg) Tsekhmistrenko was 28 years old and according to comrades, died Jan. 15 while fighting in the battle of Bakhmut.
“Many times, when I thought I was going to die, I would look over at Greg, who was still trying to keep our spirits up in the face of overwhelming odds. The world did not deserve him,” Scott Art wrote on Facebook.
Tsekhmistrenko was 27 when he first stepped up to fight when Russia invaded his homeland of Ukraine.
A year at war, from comrades to training, are all documented from the front lines in snippets of photos on his social media.
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Friends say Tsekhmistrenko was a die-hard Ukraine patriot. His Saskatoon rugby team said this wasn’t his first tour there.
“Earlier in his life, he was part of the conflict in Crimea. Despite a truly horrific experience, he quickly put his hand up and went home to defend his country again,” wrote the Saskatoon Wild Oats Rugby Club on Facebook.
“Greg was truly selfless and going home was a shining example of him living his life putting others needs before his own.”
A few years before Russia invaded, Tsekhmistrenko and his family moved from Saskatoon to Port Alice where began to build their dream home on the water.
His friends remember his vibrant personality as they reflect on fishing trips of the past in Port Alice.
“He was always helping others he volunteered as a paramedic in Mexico, South Africa, as well as other countries,” said Sean Watson, who worked with Tsekhmistrenko in Port Alice. “We lost a good man.”
Tsekhmistrenko is believed to be the third Canadian to die in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
His fellow solider, Art, is collecting money for Tsekhmistrenko’s family to help with transportation back home and funeral costs. Anyone who wants to donate can do so here.