Konstantin Dudnyk was born in the Chernogorsk to Ruslan and Katya Dudnyk, two Chernarussians who were descendants of Russian immigrants. Ruslan and Katya already had a son named Aleksei, who was four when Konstantin was born. The Dudnyk’s lived in the outskirts of Chernogorsk in a red house, a house which Ruslan had built with his father when he was a kid. Ruslan Dudnyk was a pro-Russian politician and a member of the political wing of the Chernarusskoye Dvizheniye Krasnoy Zvezdy (Chernarussian Movement of the Red Star, ChDKZ), and Katya Dudnyk was a Russian teacher at the Elektrozavodsk Primary School. Ruslan wasn’t exactly the typical Chedaki party member, as he was part of a moderate bloc in the ChDKZ that advocated for re-integration into the Russian Federation, a bloc which lost power during the civil war, when Russia refused the Chedaki demand for re-integration.
When Konstantin and Aleksei were young, they used to spend their summers at summer camp. They went to Letniy Lager Stroitel (Summer Camp Builder) in the hills north of Chernogorsk several times during their childhood and went to the Ozerko pond to swim during the hottest of days. When they came home from summer camp Ruslan would take his sons to the forest to hunt boars, which came down from the hills at this time. Together the three Dudnyk’s built a hunting post close to their home, from which they could shoot the boars roaming on the fields.
Around 2007 when the boys were now both teenagers, a man armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and donning a black beret with a single red star came to the red house asking for Ruslan, and Aleksei led the man to his father. Ruslan told his sons to go downstairs to their room, but the boys were so excited to see a real military rifle that they instead hid in the staircase and listened through the door. They could barely make out what the man said to their father, but Aleksei who was looking through the keyhole saw the man handing over a greenish satchel to Ruslan and heard him say “to protect your family” to Ruslan with a stiff expression on his face. The two adults left the house and the boys went back into the room to see what those items were that the strange man had given to their father. Aleksei opened the satchel and found a Makarov IJ-70 semi-automatic handgun, Aleksei waved around the gun pretending to shoot with it while Konstantin tried to take the gun so he could also play with it. While the two teenagers fought over the handgun, their father came in and took it from them and smacked each of his sons across the face. He warned them not to play with such a dangerous thing, and then put the pistol back into the satchel and stashed it on top of a closet.
One year later tension was brewing in South Zagoria as forces of the Národní Strana (National Party, NAPA) and ChDKZ began a period of violence. First it started as minor skirmishes between locals but then warlords started taking up arms, and that was when the bombings started. The civil war had not yet broken out and the small skirmishes and violence was at this point still being contained by local police forces, though things were rapidly getting out of control.
One morning just as Ruslan was about to leave the Dudnyk homestead for work, a car was heard braking with great force outside the small red house, and heavy footsteps could be heard approaching and surrounding the perimeter of the Dudnyk home. Loud knocking could be heard at the front door, which woke up the boys who were still in bed. The boys looked up frightened as their mother Katya came through the door to their room and pointed for Aleksei to hide under his bed, while she took Konstantin in her arms and hid him and her under Konstantin’s bed. She gestured both her sons to be silent.
From their retreat in the basement, they could hear their father Ruslan upstairs as a door was opened forcefully. A thundering ruckus could be heard from above as Ruslan cursed at the intruders as they dragged him outside into the front yard. Not long after, all the heavy footsteps went silent, and all that could be heard was yelling from the front yard, muffled by the thick basement walls. One man kept yelling constantly and it seemed like everyone else was quiet. Then suddenly the yelling stopped and for what felt like an eternity everything was silent.
Suddenly a deafening gunshot was heard and Katya was immediately heard whining as tears dropped down her cheeks and onto the floorboards under the bed, all while Konstantin and Aleksei were looking at their mother with confusion and tears in their eyes. Next a loud command was yelled out, and a soldier could be heard entering the house once again. His footsteps could be heard from downstairs as the floor boards squeaked from the contact of the heavy boots on the wooden flooring. The footsteps then could be heard making their way down the stairs towards the room, where the rest of the family was hiding. The door to the stairs creaked as it was slowly opened and from their view under the beds Katya, Konstantin and Aleksei could see a set of black leather boots entering the room. Katya once again signaled Aleksei to be quiet and she covered the mouth of little brother Konstantin. For a few seconds the man in the boot stood still in the door opening until he walked across the boy’s room, over to the door to Katya and Ruslan’s bedroom. Again the door was opened very slowly and seconds went by as the man stood in the opening.
Tears rolled down Konstantin’s cheeks as he let out a whimper barely muffled by his mother’s covering his mouth. The man in the heavy black boots turned around and dropped to his knees looking under the bed, his eyes then made contact with Katya and Konstantin. Konstantin examined the man’s equipment as his eyes went down to the arm of the man’s camouflaged jacket. On the shoulder of the jacket he had a green and black arm patch; it had two swords crossed in the middle ringed by three golden stars, one above and one beside each sword and the words “НАПА” (NAPA) at the bottom below the swords. Next Konstantin noticed that the man had a hunting rifle hanging from a strap on his back. For ten seconds the man was just staring at the two until a yell from the outside which interrupted the terrifying scene. The soldier turned his head towards the small basement window, and then turned his gaze back on the mother and her child. He put his left hand index finger to his mouth, as sweat dropped onto the floor from his forehead and then got up from the floor. He then left the house and closing the door behind him. Again footsteps were heard outside until a car could be heard as the ignition was fired up, and the car left down the dirt road it had come from.
For a few minutes nobody in the boy’s room moved or made a sound, until finally Katya got up and rushed outside with Konstantin in her hand, followed by Aleksei who had also gotten up from under his bed. What they met outside was beyond their worst nightmares, as Ruslan the father of Konstantin and Aleksei and husband of Katya was lying in a pool of thick brownish-red liquid, hair and brain mass. He had been shot in the head by the intruders and left in the dirt outside their home.
A brief burial ceremony was held in the Chernogorsk cemetery, organized by party members. The family only visited the grave of Ruslan once, and that was for the ceremony. Not long after the traumatic execution of their father and his burial, Katya fled the city with her two sons. These events were their last memories from Chernogorsk.