Kuzmenko (pictured in the center), then a history student in one of Kyiv universities, went to Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square to support the EuroMaidan protests on Nov. 30, 2013. That night, he was severely beaten during an attack by Berkut riot police as they violently broke up the protests. Kuzmenko ended up in hospital with concussion and broken arm, but he refused to be intimidated. Weeks later, he was back at the protests, and fought on Maidan until the EuroMaidan Revolution’s victory over then-President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
Following the revolution, Kuzmenko volunteered to fight against Russian-led forces in the Donbas, saying he wanted “to prove everything I stood for on Maidan.” Two years later, in 2016, he returned to Maidan Nezalezhnosti — this time as a soldier marching in the Independence Day parade. “When I was standing there with my fellows I felt so proud for my country,” Kuzmenko recalls.