Yesterday my hometown Kharkiv was ruined. Our city administration on the central Freedom Square was destroyed by “Kalibr” rocket fire. This is anti-ship, anti-submarine and land use type of weapon, definitely prohibited for use in residential areas of the city.
They wanted to ruin a symbol of our freedom but just shelled at buildings extremely far from military purposes. In one missile strike, my favourite square, my university, my photography studio in the Palace of arts and culture, where I studied from the age of 15, were destroyed. And the day before, they bombed quite consciously residential areas - Saltivka, Aleksiivka, Novi Doma. There is no military infrastructure at all, only high buildings, hospitals, kindergartens.
The house next to mine was destroyed, another house on the street was hit by a rocket and all 9 floors of flights of stairs formed, people were evacuated from this rubble. They shelled to the Holocaust memorial in Kyiv and Orthodox churches in Kharkiv too.
My friends are afraid even to go out for food because someone went to the store and had his legs blown off by an explosion after died. And the other guy survived only because his father covered him with his body from the explosion. Now the father is a hero, and the boy is an orphan.
These stories are similar to sketches for scary films or novels, they pour on me from everywhere. The frightened voice of my friend on the phone, the hysteria of my mother who does not want to leave her hometown. From news, broadcasts and chats. I've never read a news bulletin in my life every day, and now I read it every ten minutes. Because explosions are not important, well, you get used to them quickly.
What matters is whether everyone survived. And you look in which area the bomb fell and then check if everyone in this area is alive. You watch the news bulletin in the morning, barely waking up, in the evening, during lunch (if you don’t forget to eat lunch).
And all week I beg my relatives to leave Kharkiv, and they hold on to their houses and say: no, well, there will be no large-scale missile attack. It's impossible to shoot at peaceful people, Russians won't do it. But "they" do not know that someone else thinks of them humanely, and arrange new missile attacks on the city.
If on the first day of the war Russia fired at military infrastructure, periodically missing, from the second day they shamelessly attack peaceful areas. Not hiding. In places where for tens of kilometres there is nothing but houses. My mother needed a bomb in the house next door to believe that everything was really bad. Then she practically decided to go from Kharkiv. Due to the curfew, the departure was again postponed by a day. I felt that we were already a week late in making decisions. But the next day greater hell broke out.
In the morning, while there were train tickets Kharkiv-Kyiv, my mother refused to go again. And then she agreed, but there were no tickets. And then I was looking for tickets for a long time. It could have been a comedy episode if it hadn't been a tragedy. It is very hard to leave your house behind knowing that it could be bombed at any moment. Leave relatives and friends who, for various reasons, cannot leave. I myself rarely think about the house in Kharkiv now, where I grew up. I am very worried about my grandfather, who refused to leave.
He still remembers as a child the 2nd World War and how he hid in the cellars from the fascist Nazi fighters. And here he is again, on stiff legs, forced to go down to the cellar from the new fascists from Russia. Now I try to think about it less often because I will break. But then I will definitely think a lot about these moments. Then I will surely miss home: my flowers and home trees, my carefully assembled library and collection of stones from mountain hikes, children's books and drawings. It was my haven for returning from rented apartments and long-distance travelling. And now it is being bombed by a "Russian military ship" which don’t want to go to the appointed address.
In addition to Grads, Iskanders, Kalibr and other artillery, fighter aircraft are still bombing us. They are afraid to fly over Kyiv, but they can easy bombard Kharkiv from the territory of Russia. Yesterday, in several runs, they shelled at residential areas of Kharkiv from fighters. Many people are dead, among them children. Some people in Kyiv and Kharkiv are living in the subway for several days: children are born there, news are discussed, they are looking for something to feed themselves and their pets. Volunteer chats are bursting with requests: “A 6-month-old baby, already an orphan, needs food fusion.
Please bring any! From this message alone, I could have gone into depression for a month in my past life. And now I'm scrolling through hundreds of these to find what I can do today. One day before writing this article, I can buy drugs for territorial defence. I leave early, the first 7 pharmacies on my way are closed. The city is empty, in some places, there are tank hedgehogs. There is no desire to ask for a lift of rare cars - what if there are disguised saboteurs there?
They were already changing into our military and police uniforms, bombing our soldiers from a tank with a white flag. Better to be careful and go on your own. The siren is howling, but I want to do something useful, and not tremble at home or in the basement with fear, so I continue to walk along the highway. Snowflakes are falling on my face. A week ago spring came to us, and then, as if looking back at the horrors around, left us. And now the corpses of the killed military men are bashfully covered in places by a snowball. I saw it in the photos, fortunately not alive. To my joy, these are Russian soldiers.
About death and revenge
Yes, this week I learned to enjoy someone else's death. It turned out to be very easy. When the houses of your parents and friends are bombed with such disgusting brutality, the fried corpses of enemies really begin to cause joy. Because another thousand of those doll-like bodies in the snow wouldn't do any harm for us. And this is very good. And I like that from today there would be no prisoners from people shooting us with heavy artillery and fighter planes.
Those killing tens and hundreds of people from far away deserve only death. In general, we are a very humane nation, many young Russian soldiers who have surrendered are now in captivity and are receiving medical assistance, they are treated well. You can watch a bunch of videos of them online. Of course, in Russia, these soldiers who surrendered, and the mountains of corpses of Russians, are not publicized. For this information in the "great country", people can even be put in jail for 15 years. For any "unverified" - read “true” - information for many many years in prison. I didn't care how a whole nation endures such treatment, as long as they didn't attack us. But now I care.
Europe did not hear us 8 years ago
I was hurt when Russia took away Crimea, where I spent my childhood, covering these "military operations" with women and children. Their fake referendum was our pain, and even more the pain of those who were forced to leave their homes. Because many Tatars and Ukrainians, all the patriots of their country, were declared "terrorists" and feared for their lives and their families.
Donbas, where there were not so many pro-Russian people, but decoy disguised Russians, who now, after 8 years, have finally changed the stripes on their chevrons and revealed their true face. It would be a relief, the end of a theatre, in which we did not initially believe, but the world community did. Believed for almost a decade. We have been at war for 8 years. But at 4 am on February 24, missile attacks on almost all major cities of Ukraine - this was something that even we did not expect. Now the Hague Tribunal has already begun an investigation about Russia’s guilt into the events in Ukraine since 2013. But if they had begun 9 years ago, then this war might not have happened.
2nd of March
And then March 2 came. And my mother, along with a crowd of women and children, was waiting for the train to leave Kharkiv at least to Kyiv, Lviv, or immediately to the border with Poland. And fighter jets flew in the sky bombarding the city. And it was not clear whether to wait for the train further or to rush into the shelter. At that moment they bombed another central square of the Constitution. The Palace of Labour was built back in 1916.
The residential area where mom just left. There, the bomb fell into garages 300 meters from the entrance to the house, into those garages from which they left an hour ago. And now crowds of women and children are standing in the cold wind, but not everyone will get on the train. Some people have to wait for the next one. Only women with children are accepted in this one. And those who bought a ticket ended up waiting 6 hours before departure.
At the same time, Russians began to shell Kyiv. A huge bomb could bring new destruction in residential areas, fortunately, it was shot down, but even the fragments that fell near the Kyiv railway station caused a lot of noise and stress. Shell at the station, where only women and children are below the deepest bottom. On our planet, the bottom of this level is somewhere on the other side of the globe and a couple more kiloparsecs into space. There is a place for these terrorists.