The politicians of Bulgaria are trying to pursue the seven million people of the Balkan nation to convince them to vote in early parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2. But one candidate, Ivan Kalchev, is busy fighting in Ukraine instead of being on the campaign trail. Soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his soldiers into Ukraine on February 24, Kalchev arrived in Ukraine in early March to enlist in the foreign legion that Kyiv had set up.
But now, Kalchev informed RFE/ Bulgarian RL’s service that he had decided to participate in the Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to Kalchev, a real-life combat zone is different from what we’ve seen in movies. Everything is well practised and organized, and there is nothing accidental about the success. It comes with hard work and dedication.
The positive response of Ukrainians in liberated towns and villages astounded Kalchev. From a hidden location, Kalchev told RFE/RL, “I observe how these people are pleased to be freed. With joy, with pride, with tears in my eyes.”
Kalchev was a brilliant student in Sofia, and he completed his graduation from the National High School of Natural Sciences. Later, he studied physics and information technology at the university. When he was a kid, his schoolmates called him “Gligi” for the necklace he wore made with wild boar’s teeth.
Kalchev didn’t engage in combat in the early stages of the conflict. Instead, he performed various tasks, including troubleshooting, ensuring the Starlink Internet satellite connection was operational, and translating and evacuating the injured soldiers from the battlefield. Everything changed momentarily after Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive, and Kalcheved joined them.
While sharing his battlefield experience, Kalchev said, ” Even in a video game, I haven’t seen so many tanks and armoured vehicles I saw there. This has been the swiftest advance by Ukrainian forces, and some observers claim it has changed the course of the seven-month invasion”.