“I was asked by them [Russians] all the time, ‘Aren’t you afraid to die?’ I told them, ‘I am afraid to die doing nothing'”
Neither cars nor people could safely pass from Vorzel — a district to the north of Kyiv occupied by the Russian military until the beginning of April 2022. The stories of the heroic actions done by ordinary people still come to light until now. One of them was told recently by the Associated Press.
Day after day, for weeks, with the help of volunteers who provided bread and cigarettes to buy off Russian troops, Konstantin Gudauskas brazenly crossed battle lines to ferry more than 200 civilians to safety.
Along the way, the Kazakh citizen who recently had made his home in Ukraine says he lost five cars to shrapnel, explosions, and direct bullet impacts. He was interrogated at checkpoints, stripped to his underwear, and felt the cold muzzle of a Russian assault rifle prodding the back of his head — just a trigger pull away from death, he says, as he recited Psalm 22, asking for protection from his enemies.
Dubbed the “Angel of Vorzel’ by some of those he rescued, Mr. Gudauskas, in his late 30s and with short graying hair, has an unassuming presence. But that is in stark contrast to the powerful stories of resilience, survival, and escape that lie behind the names and details of those he drove to freedom, which he keeps handwritten on pieces of paper stuck to a whiteboard with magnets.