A Ukrainian soldier has detailed how he was smuggled inside of a sofa away from Russian forces.
Artem Lukianenko told Hromadske that "Hollywood is no match" for his story.
Lukianenko spent more than a month hiding in a cellar before he was secretly moved from behind enemy lines.
"Hollywood is no match" for this Ukrainian soldier's story.
A Ukrainian soldier says he was smuggled out from behind enemy lines stuffed inside a sofa on the trailer of a car through six Russian checkpoints as Moscow's war with Kyiv rages on.
Artem Lukianenko, a 25 year old soldier with Ukraine's 28th Mechanized Brigade described his great escape in a report published Tuesday by Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske.
During the fall of 2022, Lukianenko and two other Ukrainian troops hid out for more than a month in a cellar of a home in the then-Russian-occupied village of Pravdyne in the Kherson region.
Lukianenko and his pal, only identified as Serhii, were ultimately taken in by a local man, 56-year-old Oleh Bilyi, after Lukianenko was wounded during an assault on the area by Russian forces and the Ukrainians' brigade had already left, according to Hromadske.
Serhii "later admitted to me that he thought I wouldn't live long. He said I was living only on adrenaline because there was a bloody mass on my head," Lukianenko told Hromadske.
Bilyi first found Lukianenko and Serhii hiding out in an empty house on his street as Russians had infiltrated the village. The man offered up his cellar, where another Ukrainian was already hiding, according to Hromadske.
Lukianenko, Serhii, and the other soldier identified as Zhenia laid low in Bilyi's cellar for about a month, until the Russians ordered Bilyi to move out of his home.
Bilyi and his family had to come up with a way to sneak the Ukrainian troops out, Hromadske reported.
Bilyi and his wife, fearing they'd be shot if the men were discovered, decided to smuggle the troops out and get them to their daughters' rental home in the village of Bilozerka in the Kherson region.
To get the three men past the six Russian checkpoints along the way, Bilyi and his wife wanted Zhenia to hide inside a folded sofa, Lukianenko inside a refrigerator, and Serhii to use someone else's documents and ride in the passenger seat of the car they'd travel in, Hromadske reported.
But Zhenia freaked out within minutes of being inside the sofa, so Lukianenko took his place and Zhenia stayed behind. Bilyi's wife, Sofiia, tossed rags and six ducks on top of the couch Lukianenko was in to distract the Russians as they traveled with the sofa on a trailer attached to their car.
Serhii was dressed up as an old man and was given rotten eggs to hold. That way he'd stink so bad, Russian authorities wouldn't want to check his documents at checkpoints, Lukianenko said.
"The person who checked the documents opened the door, smelled it, and didn't want to talk any further," Lukianenko told Hromadske.
Lukianenko and Serhii made it to Bilozerka and the Bilyi family went back for Zhenia and returned him to Bilozerka.
The men spent more than a month there, at times dodging unexpected Russian checks, before the area and the Kherson region were liberated and recaptured by Ukrainian troops.
Afterward, a delegation led by the chaplain of the 28th Brigade picked up Lukianenko, Zhenia, and Serhii, Hromadske reported.
Lukianenko spent a month hospitalized before he was back on the front line of Russia's war with Ukraine.
"I am physically and mentally exhausted," Lukianenko told Hromadske during the interview in December from a medical facility that was treating him after he suffered a nervous breakdown.
Lukianenko had volunteered to join Ukraine's Armed Forces and signed a three-year contract, but he's hoping he'll soon be discharged, according to Hromadske, which reported that Ukraine's military medical commission has deemed him as "partially fit" to serve.
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