twitter convoy

Interview: How Latvians donate cars to Ukraine

“It’s great that we can still do it. It is very bad that it is still necessary,” says Reinis Pozņaks, the creator of the “Twitterconvoy” project, a person who has united Latvian residents who help Ukraine both with volunteer work and by donating their cars and funds for the purchase of cars, in a web post. Cars are delivered to Ukraine every week. On November 17, another twitter convoy was on its way.

How many cars have already been taken to Ukraine?

The machines are from… 1850. I won’t tell you exactly anymore. But the limit of two thousand must be caught. On November 17, convoy 117 left. Until December 1, there will be two convoys a week.

It feels like those cars are multiplying. Lots of drunks getting their cars impounded?

A lot though. But we want to send as many cars as possible by December 1, because after that the order at the border changes: the bureaucracy returns. Apparently, to avoid the disappearance of humanitarian aid. For the most part, of course, the classical components of humanitarian aid are disappearing, but now there will be more serious checks on all aid. It remains to be understood how the new arrangement works.

Now I don’t go with every convoy, I try to go once every couple of months. At first, I went more often, but there were a lot of volunteers who were ready to go to Ukraine with the convoys.

So – some cars are confiscated from drunk drivers, some cars are returned voluntarily?

Many people donate their cars. Half – voluntary donors, half – drunk drivers. We put these cars in order so that they can be transported to Ukraine, and the recipients of the cars there are also ready to do a lot. They know and can do things that are no longer done in Latvia, for example, repairing engines.

What is the oldest car?

From the eighties. There was one wonderful “Peugeot” – old, from the same eighties, but like new, because it had rolled only 30,000 kilometers. The owner was Jānis Roze, a car enthusiast. One Ukrainian doctor still drives this car – not at the front line, but around Kyiv.

Yesterday, I met Valda Gavars from the seaside, she told me that her husband Valdis Gavars also gave his car to the Twitter convoy.

Yes, he called me about his desire to return the car. There are many such people, for example, farmers donate their cars.

What motivates them to do this?

They want to help Ukraine. They understand the importance of such gifts, because anything can help. At no point have I felt that these cars are being returned because the owner considers them to be old scrap that he wants to get rid of. There has been no such case.

Drinkers probably don’t want to give up their cars?

I think he doesn’t want to. Once a drunk driver even threatened me. He called me, I felt that he was drunk, because it was difficult to understand exactly what he wanted from me. He muttered something about the pictures on twitter, about taking me to the woods and doing all sorts of things to me. I listened to him and asked: “Everything?” “Yes, everything,” he replied. I hung up and that was the end of it. I am only surprised that the number of drunk drivers is not decreasing.

Yes, an average of 30 cars are still “drinking” a week. I don’t understand how it is possible: you know that your car will be confiscated if your blood alcohol level is more than 1.5, but you still drink.

People just don’t know it.

Well, how can you not know that?! Criminal responsibility for driving under the influence of alcohol entered into force at the end of last year, and since then 635 people have been prosecuted for driving under the influence. More than two-thirds were forced to part with their vehicle.

I guess drunk drivers don’t tell others about their “adventures”. The same drunk who called me and threatened me was angry that his car had been taken away from him as a drunk driver. Of course, no one will tell you that the car was taken away for drinking. He will be asked: where did the car go? He will then answer: sold!

Drinking machines can “tell” a lot. There are cars that show: the owner of this car has been drinking for years – a glass is thrown around, a half-meter layer of empty cans and bottles. But there are accidents. For example, a family crisis, the husband pulls out his wallet, gets into the car – not to drive, but to demonstratively drive a hundred meters away from the house. And after these hundred meters he is caught by the police…

There have also been cars in which we find all possible licenses, work permits and the like: with this “event” he has lost everything – not only the car, but also his job. It’s sad.

What prompted you to start a twitter convo yourself?

When I listened to Putin’s speech on TV on the night of February 24, 2022, I understood that there would be a war. After that, for three or four days I scrolled through news feeds, I was in a kind of trance, I invited my Ukrainian friends to go to Latvia, but they all refused. Then I noticed a guy named Misha on the web who said that Ukrainians need cars. I found out that Misha is really Misha, who lives in the Carpathians, and not some fake name. His company of friends threw money and bought eight cars, invited me and my friends to take these cars to the required place with them.

The return trip to Latvia, thanks to a series of coincidences, happened with Jēkabpils council car, and it was then, already in Latvia, that we started to think that Ukrainians still need cars. Buy it yourself – there was not enough money for that. Ask entrepreneurs? I don’t know how to directly ask for money… Then I posted my request on Twitter. As soon as I got to Riga, the first offers appeared. Then everything went like an avalanche. And still going.

How do you feel about the spirit of this twitter convo?

This is patriotism. All people feel the importance of this event. Everyone understands that freedom is expensive. Freedom must be fought for. Thank God, we don’t have to fight yet, but Ukrainians are fighting right now – for all of us. I experienced the Revival at a conscious age – I was 13 years old, my parents involved me in all the events. We watched the news together, went to the barricades, brought lunch to the barricade guards, sat in front of Latvian Radio and followed the vote on the Declaration of Independence.

The timing of the start of the convoy accurately recalled the feelings of the Awakening. People – helpful to each other, immediately understand what is needed. I write on the web – I need a bus, I get it right away. As with a magic wand – everything is solved in three minutes.

If Latvia is attacked, what will you do?

I have no doubts about what I should do. Must fight. I thought about it a lot before the Russian invasion. It is clear that I could not live in any occupation – I would be put against the wall very quickly. I think that I am already on all Russian lists – as one of the first or at least in the first hundred. I have been to Ukraine, I have seen how things are going there, and the Russian invasion is no longer an unknown calamity.

Is there something that moves you?

Not anymore at the moment. At first there was snot and tears three times a day. Now – unfortunately or fortunately – emotions have dulled. I have realized that it is necessary to distance myself. Many Ukrainians I have communicated with have died… It is hard and I try not to get attached. But when children suffer… it is extremely painful.

What will you wish for Latvia on its birthday?

Long live the sun! Our country is like a teenager: we have tripped and bumped, we will have our ups and downs, we will probably still stumble and make mistakes, but the main thing is to believe that everything will be fine in the end.