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Ukrainian Daredevil Mellows, Won't Return To Russia For More Provocative Stunts


"If someone wants to see some enemy in me, he sees an enemy in me. If someone wants to see me as a patriot, he will see me that way," says daredevil Mustang Wanted.

PRAGUE -- The Ukrainian daredevil who climbed a Moscow tower in 2014 to paint its crowning star in Ukraine's national colors and hoist a Ukrainian flag has told RFE/RL that he loves living life on the edge but has "no desire" to return to Russia for another stunt.

In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service three years after his daring caper high above the Russian capital, urban climber Pavlo Ushyvets said he sees no reason to secretly penetrate a forbidden zone in Moscow again or to thumb his nose at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't seek to spit on anyone," said Ushyvets, who is better known to the world by his moniker Mustang Wanted. "I don't think [Putin] is such an important person in my life" -- adding that he thinks of any political leader as "an ordinary person, just a person."

"It's just that people interpret things the way they want to see them," Ushyvets said, reflecting on how his Moscow stunt was portrayed differently by media in Ukraine and in Russia.

"If someone wants to see some enemy in me, he sees an enemy in me. If someone wants to see me as a patriot, he will see me that way," Ushyvets said. "Neither praise nor criticism makes me stronger."

Ushyvets continues to travel the world for climbing stunts that are photographed for his 120,000 Instagram followers.
Ushyvets continues to travel the world for climbing stunts that are photographed for his 120,000 Instagram followers.

It was overnight on August 19-20, 2014, when Ushyvets climbed Moscow's Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, one of the so-called Seven Sisters skyscrapers in the Russian capital, in order to paint its 5-meter-high star and raise the Ukrainian flag.

Ushyvets dedicated his stunt to "Independence Day of Ukraine," which is celebrated on August 24, and to "all the guys defending my homeland now!"

Just months earlier, Russian military forces had seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and illegally annexed the territory. Russian military vehicles and personnel in August 2014 also had allegedly crossed the border into other parts of eastern Ukraine to support pro-Russia separatists there.

The man who says, 'I'd change everything because I have to try something new,' is a loser in life; they did nothing."

Declaring "Glory to Ukraine!" on his Facebook page, Ushyvets said at the time of the skyscraper stunt that he was overcome by what he called "a fit of sincere patriotic sentiment."

Russian authorities initially detained four young Russian base jumpers who, Ushyvets said, just happened to be climbing the tower that same day. None was prosecuted, and one has since died in a base-jumping accident.

Russia later filed a warrant seeking Ushyvets' arrest on charges of hooliganism and vandalism. But Ukrainian authorities have refused to comply.

Ushyvets told RFE/RL this month that the Russian warrant has never affected his travels around the world, and that he is not sure whether the warrant is still valid.

"It was announced but, as far as I know, Ukraine has blocked this request," he said. "Three years have passed and I go everywhere without problems."

He said he had no trouble entering Canada to attend the September 2016 Toronto Film Festival, where the production of a new film, titled We Kill Death, was announced.

That film, being produced by Alex Ginzburg and Tony Lee, focuses on the feats of Ushyvets and three Russian daredevil climbers -- Oleg Sherstyachenko, who goes by the name OlegCricket, from Yekaterinburg, and the duo of Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov, from Novosibirsk.

In the meantime, Ushyvets continues to travel the world for climbing stunts that are photographed for his 120,000 Instagram followers. His videos are seen by millions of viewers online.

He said that if he suddenly had $10 million or learned that a meteor would destroy the Earth tomorrow, he would live his last day of life the same way.

"I wouldn't do anything differently," he told RFE/RL. "I would live the same way I have lived. The man who says, 'I'd change everything because I have to try something new,' is a loser in life; they did nothing."

"The only day they lived as a man would be their last day," Ushyvets reasoned. "If you always lived the way you wanted, then on the last day you will live the same way -- the way you wanted."

Written by Ron Synovitz, based on an interview conducted by RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Dmitry Volchek
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