Nature protection and battles at the forefront – Oleg Andros’ story

Wikimedia Ukraine is collecting and telling stories of Ukrainian Wikimedia community members affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This article was first published in The Signpost. See the full collection of stories on Meta.

Oleg Andros is a photographer, musician, environmental activist, and an active participant of the Wiki Loves Earth photo contest.

Oleg Andros (left) at an awards ceremony in 2018. Olegandros, CC BY-SA 4.0

Before the war, Oleg was actively involved in nature protection. He lobbied for the creation of nature reserves in Kyiv, the preservation of Zhukiv Island, Lysa Hora and other protected areas in Ukraine. At the same time, he is fond of photography. Since 2000, he has amassed a large archive of photographs, which he periodically uploads to Commons.

In 2021, Oleg took part in the Ukrainian part of Wiki Loves Earth. His photos won all five prizes in the special nomination “Protection of nature sites”.

Oleg Andros’ photo that won a third place in the nomination “Human Rights and Environment” in the international Wiki Loves Earth round. The title is: “Don’t burn our houses!” Beavers’ action to protect the forests of Polissia, Ukraine.
Olegandros, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of his photos also won a third place in the nomination “Human Rights and Environment” in the international Wiki Loves Earth round. It depicts a picket on November 22, 2013 against deforestation in Ukraine. The action included folk songs and a dramatic duel between a beaver and a lumberjack.

On the eve of Russia’s full-scale invasion, on February 21 this year, Oleg opened his fourth solo photo exhibition “The Touch of Otherworld” at the Little Opera in Kyiv. At the same time, he got a new job – Oleg is an editor at the Kyiv Youth Library.

On February 24, Oleg woke up at six am. His mother told him that the Russians were bombing Vasylkiv airport near Kyiv. He grabbed his essentials and headed to Bila Tserkva through traffic jams.

In 2015, Oleg Andros served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine fighting Russian-backed terrorists in the eastern Donetsk region. As a military reservist, he immediately went to the military office. On the first day of the 2022 Russian invasion, he was assigned to a unit that got sent to the frontline. Oleg’s service takes place in various regions: from the Brovary district in the Kyiv region, back when Russian troops were near Kyiv, to Sumy, Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.

“During the Anti-Terrorist Operation [war in eastern Ukraine since 2014] I didn’t see much because I served in the brigade headquarters. But I compensated for it during the 2022 invasion. Now I know the sound of different artillery shells; I know what it’s like to ride a combat vehicle a few hundred kilometers away”, Oleg Andros says.

Currently, Oleg’s battalion is defending the eastern Donetsk region. In his unit, he performs the duties of the personnel officer, handling administrative work. Oleg is constantly on the front line.

During the war, Oleg continued to participate in the activities of environmental organizations. In particular, in March, he helped evacuate 62 cats from the Kyiv Zoo. There are still 45 animals left in this cat shelter, they are helped by the NGO “Nature above all”, co-founded by Oleg.

Oleg hasn’t had the time to contribute to Wikipedia during the invasion, but he found time to take some good photos. One of them was exhibited in a Kyiv library in the spring.Read more about Oleg and his views on war and philosophy in the articles he published in April and July.

Oleg Andros (center) at an environmental protest in 2014. Olegandros, CC BY-SA 4.0