ILYA SAMOILENKO “GANDALF”
AZOV REGIMENT’S COMMANDER AND SPOKESMAN
is a lieutenant and a 27-year-old staff officer for Ukraine's Azov Regiment.
Ilya joined the regiment in 2015 when he was a 21-year-old student of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv where he studied history. After the beginning of the russian-Ukrainian war, Ilya paused his education to defend Ukraine. For him, it was a civic duty that defined him as a citizen. During his military service in the East of Ukraine, he lost his left arm and right eye. After receiving transplants and a full recovery, Ilya taught himself to use a rifle again and rejoined his comrades in Azov. Ilya wanted to resume his service despite injury since he hasn’t achieved his goal within the military — stop russian war against Ukraine.
In February 2022, just before the escalation of russian-Ukrainian war, Ilya left to Mariupol and eventually stayed there to defend the city. He is known for holding in fluent English the historic press conference for Ukrainian and foreign journalists right from the basement of the Azovstal steel works. He criticized politicians for not providing the regiment with enough weaponry and asked the global community for help. Ilya had a unique ability to explain complicated history of the regiment and the importance of supporting Ukraine to the international audience. He continued communicating with international reporters till his last day at the Azovstal steelworks.
Shortly before leaving to Mariupol, Ilya started dating Daria Tsykunova with whom they have been friends before. Daria is now an activist fighting for a safe return of Azovstal defenders. She describes Ilya as a very intelligent, educated, honest and straightforward person. According to her, Ilya hopes to get a degree in history and go to the mountains upon his return. At home Ilya is awaited by his mother Alla and his little sister. He has been in touch with them during the whole time at the Azovstal, but now they are left in the unknown and hope for his soon and safe return.
PRESS ABOUT ILYA
MARIUPOL STEEL PLANT'S SECOND-IN-COMMAND: ‘WE'RE NOT HEROES – WE’RE SOLDIERS CARRYING OUT ORDERS’
INSIDE MARIUPOL STEEL PLANT AS ARMY CHIEF DESCRIBES HORROR OF BEING BOMBED FOR 73 DAYS
'MARIUPOL IS THE CITY OF THE DEAD.' ONE SOLDIER'S FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF LIFE ON THE FRONT LINES