“Before the war I never even held a gun in my hands.” The story of an ethnic Hungarian who defends Ukraine

Victor Troshki is a PhD in Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Associate Professor of Physical and Mathematical Disciplines of the Ukrainian-Hungarian Educational Institute of Uzhgorod National University.

He graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Uzhhorod National University, then studied in graduate school at the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. In 2016 he defended his thesis on “Quadratic fi-subgaussian random variables and processes.”

At Uzhhorod National University Victor Troshki teaches various disciplines, including mathematical analysis of the function of one variable, complex mathematical analysis, functional analysis, probability theory.

Or, to be more correct – he used to teach, because now he became a serviceman the 128th Mountain Assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

And Viktor Beilovich Troshki also is an ethnic Hungarian. He did not serve in the Armed Forces, did not graduate from the military department at the university, had no military, much less combat experience. This means that he was not in reserve or under mobilization, so he could continue giving lectures to students or engaging in scientific activities.

However, in the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion, an associate professor of Uzhhorod National University voluntarily went to the military enlistment office and became a soldier of the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade.


“My family was not happy with my decision to go to war, but they accepted it without objections.”

We met with Victor at the current location of his military unit, 1,300 kilometers from Transcarpathia. The best place to talk was a small room, which the military uses as wood woodpile.

“I was born in the village of Kinchesh near Uzhhorod,” says Victor, while sitting on logs covered with a camouflage net. – Hungarian by nationality. My paternal grandparents hardly spoke Ukrainian, but my parents deliberately spoke two languages ​​at home, Hungarian and Ukrainian, so I learned both perfectly.

My wife is Ukrainian, she is from another village near Uzhhorod. We studied in graduate school, so she also teaches at Uzhhorod National University. We have two sons: David is three years old and Daniel is one. And we also speak to them in two languages: I speak Hungarian and my wife speaks Ukrainian. The younger one, Daniel, still doesn’t understand where I’m going, and David knows that “Dad’s chasing bad guys.”

A few days after the start of the war, Victor came to the military enlistment office to enlist as a volunteer in the Armed Forces. Before that, he told his family about his decision. They were, to put it mildly, not excited. However, they accepted it without objection.


During selection of a military specialty, the PhD in physical and mathematical sciences was sent to the artillery unit of the 128th Brigade.

There was a huge queue of volunteers and conscripts in the military enlistment office, – Victor continues. – When I submitted the documents and said where I work, one of the officers exclaimed: “Oh, we need just someone like this in the artillery!”. Probably because a good artilleryman must know math well. That’s how I got here.

Prior to that, I had no idea how artillery worked, I never even held a Kalashnikov assault rifle. We were shown how to handle small arms, and I learned the intricacies of artillery in combat.

“I was at the front when I learned about the honorary award of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences”

Together with his comrades in the department, the associate professor of Uzhhorod National University endures military field conditions. He spends the night in the sleeping bag, often on the floor in non-residential premises, warms himself by the stove, gets used to living without electricity and stable mobile communication. He’s happy if he can talk briefly with his family, and sometimes he just sends a simple text message that everything is fine.

The Russians repeatedly shelled the area around the positions of the artillery unit, but, thank God, all our soldiers are alive and well.

We get hot food and even sweets every day (probably from volunteers), – says Victor. – Recently we installed a field shower, so you can wash twice a week. I am not picky, so I consider such conditions normal. Commanders treat soldiers humanely, which surprised me even a little. Morally, I was ready for tougher conditions.

Why did you decide to go to war? – I ask Victor.

The recent events in Kyiv region illustrate this very eloquently. My paternal grandmother (the one who hardly spoke Ukrainian) often told me how the Red Army liberated Transcarpathia in 1944. And how it treated the Hungarians. It was the same thing we see now in Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel and other settlements – next to each other.

My grandfather was repressed and sent to Donbas only because he was Hungarian. Then, years later, he was rehabilitated. My grandmother had already died, but when this war began, I remembered her stories very vividly and decided to do everything possible to prevent such horror from reaching Transcarpathia again. And to Ukraine too, but so far we have what we have…


Victor Troshko’s story might not have been worth a separate story if not for one feature.

On March 21 this year, the Presidium of the Foreign Office of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences awarded Viktor Troshka the Honorary Award of Oron Janos “for his significant contribution to the development of science.” This is one of the highest honors of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which is awarded annually to scientists from Hungary and abroad.

Announcement of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on awarding Victor Troshka an honorary distinction (photo provided by the director of the Ukrainian-Hungarian Educational and Scientific Institute of Uzhhorod National University Oleksandr Shpenyk)

The honorary award ceremony, as well as a cash prize of 500,000 forints (about 43,000 hryvnias – the author), will take place at the general meeting of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on May 3-4, 2022 in Budapest.

Before the war, we submitted materials for the award, – explains Victor Troshki. – These are my research papers on probability theory and mathematical statistics, which are indexed in the Scopus scientometric database and evaluated by impact factor, number of references and other criteria. And I was one of the winners.

The corresponding letter from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences came to Uzhhorod National University, my photo was sent to me by my head, director of the Ukrainian-Hungarian educational and scientific institute of Uzhhorod National University Oleksandr Shpenyk.

The commanders already know about the award and congratulated me. But it wasn’t really possible to get a vacation and go to the award ceremony, especially abroad…

Three more Hungarians from Transcarpathia serve in the unit. One of them is a little older. Victor half-jokingly calls him Yonchi-bachi (in Hungarian – Uncle Ivan). He was next to us during our conversation.

My father Bart is a Hungarian, my mother Gaidos is a Hungarian, so who am I, if not a Hungarian? – rhetorically asks soldier Ivan Barta. – In Hungary my last name is “Borto”, and in Ukraine – “Barta”. My name is Ivan Yanovich, but I’m Yonchi at home.

My parents were born under Czechoslovak rule, so father was written as Jan Jozefovych Barta, and mother was Helena Ladislavovna Gaidosh. That is, in the Czech manner. People were recorded differently depending on which government was there.

At home in Koropka (a village in the Mukachevo region – the author) I speak more Ukrainian. I don’t know Hungarian as well. The local Hungarians call me a “ukrán nacionalista”, that is, a Ukrainian nationalist, – laughs Yonchi-bachi. – But I do not pay attention to it. In the first hours after the start of the war, I voluntarily came to the military enlistment office, and only then I told my family that I was going to war. Because someone needs to eradicate these Russian bastards…

Victor Troshki and Yonchi-bachi – ethnic Hungarians, fighters of the 128th separate mountain assault Transcarpathian brigade

At least four of the ethnic Hungarians killed in the war had Ukrainian and Hungarian citizenship

And finally some statistics.

In the eight years since 2014 and until Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 this year, 100 Transcarpathians have died in the Donbas war zone. These are fighters of various military units, but most of them are from the 128th separate mountain assault Transcarpathian brigade. Of these 100 victims, twelve were ethnic Hungarians.

According to the 2001 census, 150,000 Hungarians live in Transcarpathia, ie 12.1% of the total population of the region.

However, in reality there are far fewer of them, as some Hungarians have left Transcarpathia for permanent residence in the last twenty years in Hungary or other EU countries. Therefore, the number of Hungarians killed among Transcarpathians killed in the war is proportionally much higher than the number of Hungarians living in Transcarpathia.

At one time, the author of this text worked in the civil service and oversaw, among other things, the issues of anti-terrorist operation participants and interethnic relations in Transcarpathia. He found out that at least four of the 12 dead Hungarians had Hungarian citizenship in addition to Ukrainian. This fact was reported by relatives and friends of the victims. As for the other eight victims, relatives did not want to answer this question.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 this year, at least one ethnic Hungarian has died among the Transcarpathians – Kish Shandor Shandorovich, chief of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Uzhgorod. A 29-year-old sailor died in the last days of February, leaving two children half-orphaned. The President of Ukraine awarded Shandor Kish the Order of Courage of the Third Degree (posthumously).

Ethnic Hungarians continue to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in particular the 128th Brigade. Some of them have Hungarian citizenship in addition to Ukrainian, but do not advertise it.

The recent parliamentary elections in Hungary and some related statements by Hungarian government officials have been painfully received by Ukrainian society, which has been resisting the Russian aggressor for more than a month and is counting on the support of neighboring countries.

However, anyone who raises the hype on Hungarian issues, not understanding where politics is and where ordinary people are, should mention Viktor Troshka, Ivan Bart and other ethnic Hungarians from Transcarpathia. Who voluntarily took arms to defend Ukraine and, if necessary, sacrifice the most precious thing for the sake of their country – their own lives.

by Yaroslav Galas, a former journalist and civil servant, who is now an officer in the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade.

Source: Ukrainska Pravda, translated by Russia Vs World

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