Victory ‘V’ signs and insults for Russians: How Mykolaiv’s governor is rallying residents

Vitaly Kim, whose hero is Volodymyr Zelensky, has embraced social media to inspire people living in besieged southern city

and 18 March 2022 •

Vitaly Kim described Russian soldiers as 'orcs' – then issued an pology to orcs
Vitaly Kim described Russian soldiers as ‘orcs’ – then issued an apology to orcs CREDIT: Bulent Kilic/AFP

With his Churchillian “V for victory” sign and an array of colourful insults to hurl at Russian invaders, the governor of Mykolaiv has become an unlikely wartime celebrity.

Like Volodymyr Zelensky, his political hero and boss, 41-year-old Vitaly Kim has embraced social media to rally those living in the besieged southern city, posting regular videos and daily press conferences that have become vital viewing for residents.

Dressed in casual clothing – including a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Ocean Dream” and featuring a swaying palm tree – he invariably smiles or laughs and then waves at the thousands logging on to watch him on platforms including Telegram and Instagram.

A short clip could summon residents to build a mound of tyres at a key junction in case of the need to create a smokescreen to confound Russian troops and tanks as – or when – they invade. “I’ll tell you when to light them,” he said.

The half-Korean Russian-speaking governor, a father of three, warned those tempted to flout drunk driving laws that, if caught, their cars would be seized and commandeered for the Ukrainian army. “We do not have enough vehicles for the military,” he said.

He even posted photographs of him patrolling the city’s perimeters in a Tigr, a camouflaged military 4×4 complete with anti-tank rockets.

Vitaly Kim has offered Russian soldiers sickened by their invasion a 'green corridor' to allow them to desert or defect
Vitaly Kim has offered Russian soldiers sickened by their invasion a ‘green corridor’ to allow them to desert or defect CREDIT: Bulent Kilic/AFP

But it is his ability to mock Vladimir Putin’s troops that has captured the imagination of many of his followers.

Russian soldiers, for example, are “orcs” – an unflattering reference to the ugly and base green monsters found in JRR Tolkien’s fantasy books. 

But Mr Kim recently admitted he was doing the fictional characters a disservice. “I have just spoken to the orcs’ press secretary,” he said, smiling. “He considers it insulting to compare the Russian army to the orcs, and he urged me not to do this any more. Well, what can I say?”

He has offered Russian soldiers sickened by their invasion a “green corridor” to allow them to desert or defect. But for those who stayed to fight, he said there were 50 buses on hand to ferry them to military prison. Failing that, a plot in the ground awaited.

Russian soldiers shelling the city were “imbeciles” at best and “b——-” at worst when one missile hit a school, killing four people.

A residential building in Mykolaiv smoulders after being damaged by Russian shelling earlier this month
A residential building in Mykolaiv smoulders after being damaged by Russian shelling earlier this month CREDIT: Ukraine State Emergency Service/Reuters

Like the Ukrainian president who inspires him, Mr Kim has repeatedly called on the West to “close the skies”.

But he remains adamant that the morale of the people which will prove Russia’s downfall. “They thought we’d welcome them with flowers. They didn’t expect such resistance,” he said.

As a child, Mr Kim played basketball – his father was apparently a respected basketball coach. He later studied business and economics and worked in the catering, construction and agriculture sectors.

Inspired by Mr Zelensky, he took up politics and was later appointed by the president as Mykolaiv’s governor.

It is perhaps his nonchalance that has proven his most inspiring quality of his leadership. “My mood is good because I’m thinking about our victory and what I need to do in the future… It wouldn’t help our victory if I was in a sad mood,” he said.


  1. Comments from this article :

    Paul Neczypir:

    Russian-speaking, half Korean …
    Looking forward to the Kremin’s gullible loons coming on here and explaining again how it’s really all about neo-Nazis and freeing the Russian speakers.

    Lesley Turner:

    Focus on what you want more of Vitaly Kim. See the future

    Green Fly:

    Another inspirational leader. It will take much more Russian brutality in numbers to defeat these heroes.”

    • There are a lot of people VERY engaged with the subject of Ukraine since Putin’s genocide started. Everyone with a heart is feeling a little Ukrainian now. That feeling is strangling the limping Imp.

  2. The people of Ukraine are a new people. They have moved closer together since mafia land’s criminal war started. They have found patriotism, pride, anger, defiance and strength. Their common goal is to defeat the evil fascist army that is ravaging their country and killing their women and children. Mafia land will not succeed to subjugate the new Ukraine people!

    • Putler cannot win militarily. He is already resorting to genocide. If he is allowed to continue, millions will die; quite possibly of starvation.
      The time has now come for massive air strikes on the invader by the Budapest signatories, followed by multiple divisions of ground troops.
      The current non-confrontation policy of Biden is not only shameful, it’s just not working.

      • I’m afraid that the West feels comfortable hiding behind their NATO articles … and Ukrainian women and children.

Enter comments here: