“Then the war began. We all know that the state of affairs in our law enforcement agencies was not very good. And somewhere around the summer of 2014, I started helping the military and law enforcement agencies in general, in the early days. It just happened, some acquaintances, some things... I helped the border guards: Mostyska unit, Lviv. Because they were sent there to the east, as combat-ready and ideologically oriented units. In particular, they were near Sartana, near Mariupol. Since I worked in the IT industry, I had some financial opportunities, and I directed these opportunities entirely to help our law enforcement agencies. In particular, I had a friend who was already a bit elderly, they mobilized him and sent him as a sapper. They didn't even give him anything to work with. So I bought two good Canadian metal detectors. He thanked me for helping a lot. And some things related to uniforms, very simple things - with thermal underwear, everything one may need... I participated in the volunteer movement.
Now they understand that a volunteer is a person who collects money from others, buys something, and takes it somewhere. I tried not to collect money from anyone, I tried to do it myself. If I can do it - I did it, I handed it over. Without involving anyone else, directly. I didn't really want thanks from anyone. But during that phase of 2014-15-16, they sent a certificate from the border guards, they sent a flag. It was nice”.
“I keep in touch with the son of this scientist, Kateryna Logvynivna Yushchenko, with Mr. Yurii Yushchenko. He is also a scientist who taught at Kyiv Mohyla Academy. The war caught up with him in Berdiansk, where one of his daughters lives. He found himself under occupation without any means of communication. I was able to reach him somehow and started looking for ways to rescue him from there. There were various evacuation convoys of cars and buses. They showed on TV that state evacuation convoys from Zaporizhzhia were not allowed through. But private buses were allowed, and it was best to go in a convoy of buses because we know that many crimes were committed by the Russian military against people traveling in cars. They would simply shoot at the cars, take people away, and kill them. When a convoy of several buses is traveling, it is harder to hide such crimes. It was for money, there were some arrangements to let people go. I believe that any way to save civilians is good. I was able to monitor groups on Telegram constantly, and I see positive feedback from those who managed to leave and made arrangements with people. They left by bus and everything was fine. We are in Zaporizhzhia, and everything is good again. I was able to get in touch with him again and told him that there were positive examples of successful evacuations. He managed to leave that way as well. I met him here in Lviv and put him up in a hotel for a couple of days. And then...he is now abroad, an elderly person who survived the occupation. That's it. In fact, there are also my connections in Italy. One Italian expert was working on the history of women in IT, and with his help, he wrote a chapter about Kateryna Yushchenko for a book. That's the story”.
“This was a time when museums of this kind were emerging throughout Ukraine. For example, the de:coded exhibition was the first of its kind in Ukraine. But in the fall of the same year, in 2016, Dmytro Cherepanov opened a private museum in Mariupol where visitors could come to look and play. He also worked in the IT industry, more specifically with websites, and became a well-known expert. Now his story is known to a very wide audience around the world for those interested in retro computer technology because he barely escaped with the beginning of the active phase of the war in Mariupol, and his apartment was destroyed. The building where the museum was located was also destroyed. It is said that all the equipment was lost, but the basement might still be intact. American and British magazines related to computers wrote about it. There was also a computer museum in Kharkiv, with a branch in Kyiv – Software and Computer Museum. So a movement began in parallel to this trend”.
“As for the 2004 Orange Revolution, it's a slightly different story. Going back to Leonid Danylovych... After all, he was the director of a historical, space, military-space powerful enterprise... a certain level... He dealt with important people. And then came the criminal. They proposed that a prisoner should lead the largest country in Europe... Well, it was clearly not okay. It was difficult to accept it all. I took an active position in favor of Yushchenko and against Yanukovych during the Orange Revolution. Maybe not active enough to go to Kyiv, but I went to rallies in Lviv, many rallies. I protested on the Internet.
In particular, this was perhaps when the now popular genre of “doctored pictures” was born - funny caricatures made in Photoshop. I was drawing some political ones. I posted them online, and some of them turned out to be popular. Later it was interesting to see my creations. To see people sharing them, which was different back then. But it was interesting to see my drawings appear”.
“I attended school during the period of the end of the Soviet Union, Soviet Ukraine, and the first years of independent Ukraine. And one peculiarity - I studied in a Russian-speaking school. And I must say that this gave me an understanding of our northeast neighbor for my entire life. Since most of my classmates, even those who are ethnic Russians, still live, work, and communicate in Ukrainian very well. But as for the teachers... There was a history teacher who was very... her narratives were in line with modern Russian propaganda. In the final grades, she even called me a “Banderite”. It was quite an interesting story.
I think that all these narratives were ingrained in the minds not only of Russians who are citizens of modern Russia but also of anyone with ties to Russia by origin. They were ingrained for many, many years. Probably the last 30 years. And, unfortunately, this is one of the sources of what we have today”.
My life principle is to do what you have to do and let whatever happens happen
Mykola Yuriiovych Shcherbyna was born on April 12, 1977, in Lviv into a family of scientists. In 1983, he enrolled in Russian-language School №52 in Lviv, which specialized in mathematics. During his studies, he became interested in computer science and computing technology, so after finishing school, he enrolled in the Lviv Ivan Franko National University (LNU) in the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. In the year of his enrollment, he took third place in the All-Ukrainian Olympiad in Computer Science, and within a year, he worked with two other winners in one of the first outsourcing companies. In 2004, he participated in the Orange Revolution protests in Lviv, created political caricatures (“doctored pictures”), and in 2013, he was an active participant in the Revolution of Dignity protests in Lviv and Kyiv. Since 2014, he has been helping units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a solo volunteer. After the full-scale invasion of Russian forces into Ukraine, he assisted in the evacuation of Yurii Yushchenko, a well-known Ukrainian scientist and researcher of his mother’s life, Kateryna Yushchenko, a prominent Ukrainian programmer who created one of the first high-level programming languages in the world, from the occupied city of Berdiansk. As of 2023, Mykola Shcherbyna lives in Lviv and is preparing to open a Museum of Computer Technologies based on his personal collection at the Lviv Ivan Franko National University.