Kharkiv, deceived by the Russian withdrawal: “Bombarded every day”

Kharkiv, deceived by the Russian withdrawal: “Bombarded every day”

by Giusi Fasano

Travel to the city that took a little breath away after the armistice in May. The rockets are back, there are those who live in the subway stations: let’s pretend to camp

From our correspondent

KHARKIV No more silence. Kharkiv nights have no other voice than that of sirens and bombs. Often dark, even in the heart of the city. as if life stopped even after the curfew. But if you resist the fear of staying a few minutes on the balcony, you will be rewarded with a starry sky that enchants as soon as your eyes get used to the darkness.
Here it is, the betrayed city.

the illusion

The May truce had empowered everyone to hope for less brutal days. The siege seemed over, the Russians had retreated towards their border 40 kilometers from here. But it was actually a delusion. The former capital of one and a half million people, Ukraine’s second largest city, was again attacked day and night. And the other day at dawn the rockets hit the center again.
People are exhausted, scared, few cars on the streets, 70% of shops are closed, 30% of houses are destroyed, very few shops, cafes and restaurants are open. Wherever the storefronts and storefronts are obscured by protective panels, it’s hard to find a building with all the glass intact (if it wasn’t the missiles, it was cluster bombs, witnesses swear the early days of the war the bloodiest were ).

Homeless

We have nine districts and all are bombed. There is no quarter, no place in the city that can be described as absolutely safe, comments Mayor Ihor Terekhov. That doesn’t mean how many crosses his town has (many hundreds), but he says more than 150,000 people have been left homeless and that in the good days – early May – residents have been returning at a rate of 2,000 a day, little ones Businesses had tried to start over, people had come off the subway and made themselves at home, thousands of those displaced people who had lived underground for two and a half months had found shelter. But now …

The underground people

Even today, 158 days later, between 100 and 150 people live between trains and platforms at Heroes of Labour, the last tube station north-east, just below the foot of Saltivka, the most heavily bombed and deserted area of ​​the city. The world above has buildings black with smoke and deserted, with no water, no gas, no electricity. The few remaining residents are like ghosts: we live in a place that no longer exists, in unrecognizable houses, every explosion a new wound. In the world below, children play happily at the foot of a bunk bed, between the turnstiles of the ticket offices and the billboards; There are women heating water to shower, cats dozing off, people lying on piles of blankets reading, and others praying to heaven to save Ukraine because, Lord, we deserve salvation.

Let’s imagine we’re camping

Maria, 70, says she arrived on February 27 aboard a tank. Zinaida, 71, has also been living down there with her daughter Zhenia, 50, since February 27. Our uninhabitable building. We have nothing left. Where do we go?. The proximity to home gives the illusion of being able to return soon. When asked how she spends her days, Zhenia answers for herself for the others who gather: We fool life by doing the things we always do: wake up at the usual time, personal hygiene, we go out to air the blankets, we even have the crease… Let’s pretend we’re camping. But nobody wants to spend the winter here.

Doctor Bukto

You also get used to conditions that may have once seemed impossible. Valery Bukto, for example. He is 68 years old and the head of neurosurgery at the Municipal Outpatient and Emergency Hospital. He’s been home three or four times since the war just to see if he’s still standing. I’m sleeping here in the hospital, he says, because you need me, not a day goes by that civilians don’t arrive with shrapnel injuries. dr Bukto is moved as he talks about complicated surgeries, lives saved, his amazing team in the operating room and his three children, whom he hasn’t seen in a long time.

The Guardian of Nothing

In Kharkiv, tens of thousands of fathers who have not seen their children for months are being brought to safety from the bombs. Andriy Semeniuk, 54, one of them. Her boyfriend went to Israel and he stayed to work for the security of Barabashovo, one of the largest markets in Europe, half destroyed by a rocket attack on March 17. It’s not clear what he should be seeing now if not a huge pile of iron deformed by the fire. But for Andriy this junk has a lot of life and it doesn’t matter, I come here and walk around like everyone is still there. As if the people were still screaming, the shops were still open, the goods in front of the doors, the packages to be loaded and unloaded… As if it was still February 23rd.

July 30, 2022 (Change July 30, 2022 | 21:52)