“Our station was considered one of the curiosities in Antarctica because it has the southernmost bar in the world. It's interesting to tell the story that when it was an English station, it was constantly improving, something was being built all the time, and some construction materials, equipment, and other things were constantly being brought there. And once, when they decided to build something else at the station, they brought a lot of wood - there is no wood in Antarctica, everything has to be imported - and they brought a team of builders recruited from Ireland. Just like if we recruit a team of Moldovans and bring them, they brought these builders from Ireland. Well, Ireland and England look like separate countries. And it turned out that this team was sitting by themselves, and they were not very comfortable - surrounded by English people, far from their homeland, and nothing reminded them of it. So they were sitting there, drinking a little bit, and thinking: “We need to do something to remind us of our Ireland”. Part of the crew quarters was converted into a real Irish pub with all the counters and wooden paneling. If you just take this part, you'll never guess you're in Antarctica - it's a real Irish pub. Of course, there was a scandal afterwards about where so much wood was spent, they were demanded to come back, but one can’t dismantle such beauty. And this became such a curiosity in Antarctica that you can come, see, and have a shot in this pub. When they bring all the tourists now, they say that you have the opportunity to have a drink in this pub”.
“Usually it was birthdays. So on a birthday... Another one of my duties. I had a color printer, I had a graphics editor, so I made collages from photos and pictures, made congratulatory greetings and printed a kind of diploma, laminated it on a color printer, and it was presented as a “Birthday Celebration Diploma on the Antarctic Station”. I made a few of those diplomas. Then there were celebrations that were common at the station. For example, the biggest holiday in Antarctica is called Midwinter, which is in the middle of winter. And Midwinter - surprise - was celebrated at the beginning of summer for us, that is, on June 22, which is the shortest day of winter. And then there was this celebration: traditionally - bathing, various competitions, and in the evening a festive dinner... Our wintering was just when there were elections twice during our wintering, as far as I remember. That is, I can't remember now what elections they were, parliament and something else, I can't remember now, but I was kind of working in the election commission, preparing ballots, preparing all these votes, passing on the results of the vote. We had a separate polling station. And usually all the celebrations that are traditional on the mainland, we also celebrated: we celebrated Easter there, we had May Day, and all the other holidays, Constitution Day, and we celebrated Halloween - everyone painted whatever they wanted. We had an agreement within the station that there would be no political discussions. Everyone has their own preferences, no one discusses it, there are no conversations about it. So the elections were held, everyone voted, the results were passed on, and even no one knows who voted for whom. There are some results, but whose are they? Who knows. And this was not discussed”.
“Then there was a two-year break, in 1988 I graduated from the technical school, then I served in the army for two years, and after the army, in 1991, I ended up there again, in Novosybirsk. I also spent the summer there. And it turned out that 1991 was exactly the period when I was teaching, at the end of August, the summer school for young programmers was supposed to end around August 21. But on August 19, 1991, everyone gathered around the radio receivers because of the GKChP (State Committee on the State of Emergency in the USSR) and everything like that. And it happened that instead of a direct flight from Kyiv to Novosybirsk, I took a transfer through Moscow. That is, I had to fly from Novosybirsk to Moscow, then from Moscow to Kyiv, but all these events started there, tanks and everything. They reassured me: “Well, so what if you can't go to Kyiv, because there are separatist movements in Ukraine, you will stay with us, in Novosybirsk, it's cool here, we'll arrange everything for you, you will go to university, why do you need Kyiv?”. And I entered the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute then. They said: “Well, the Polytechnic Institute can't compare to the Novosybirsk University”. But it turned out that I flew to Moscow, and just when everything was over I flew back to Kyiv”.
“When I was studying at the technical school, I got into the first and last group for industrial robots. That means I had “servicing of industrial robots” written in my diploma. Even my practical training was at the Biomedical Institute. It was developing satellites for the Soviet space program, and the newest and most interesting things - anything that could be stolen, ordered or otherwise obtained, because there was an embargo and it was not brought to the Soviet Union, but these industrial robots were actually delivered there. I remember being very surprised at all the mathematical manipulators, and how everything was processed. You only program the commands, and it produces everything else. It was very interesting there - there was a Swiss machine that made very small products, cutting and shaping them. And in the corner, next to it, was another Swiss machine, with a date “1917” or 1916, or 1917, something like that, which was brought over from Germany as part of reparations after the war. Since then, it was built like a watch mechanism - the levers turned, the spring set all the levers in motion, and the cutters were advanced and retracted, and it produced very, very small, special screws and bolts. They were all cut, and the rod was automatically produced, and they fell into a box. In the morning, the clock was started, and it worked until the rod ran out. Then it stopped, and you inserted another one - and it kept going. Such a juxtaposition - here are the latest robots, programmed from a computer, and here's an ancient machine that's programmed with disks, where you have to adjust the levers, the bumps, and the hollows”.
“It was earlier, when I attended after-school clubs, I went to the electronics club, it was in the Zaliznychnyi Palace of Pioneers. And there our teacher, he worked, I understand, as a technician in a computer center, and he took us with him once. We went to this computer center, where there were these big computers. Everyone was walking around in white coats. And it was a turning point when I decided: “This is what I want to do.' <...> It was somewhere around 1982-1983, I was still in school, but it stuck with me that I wanted to work with computers”.
“From a nerd to a tourist”: a programmer at the “Academic Vernadskyi” station
Yevhen Volodymyrovych Krashtan was born in Zhytomyr in 1969. He spent his typical childhood of the end of the Soviet era in Kyiv, where he moved with his parents immediately after birth. Technical clubs and favorite natural science subjects led Yevhen to a profession that changed the world and allowed him to be among those who introduced the internet to Ukrainian society. Yevhen Krashtan studied, in particular, with researchers from Novosybirsk State University, who introduced the subject of computer science to the Soviet space. In the 1990s, he began working at the “Mercury” consumer cooperative and the “Lucky.net” internet service provider, two symbols of the era. His desire to travel and diverse knowledge and skills led him to Antarctica - Yevhen served as a communication administrator as part of the 12th Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition. From 2008 to 2010, he worked at the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Ukraine, where he and his team developed an electronic ticket project that could be purchased online. In connection with the armed invasion of Russia into Ukraine in 2014, he moved to the Lviv region, where he currently resides (as of 2023) with his wife and two children. In addition to his main job - programming, he is passionate about cycling tourism - in 2015, he received an award as the best active tourism guide in Ukraine.