“The whole village began to dig huts in the forest”, – a resident of a village near Borodyanka

Artem Ivanov lived in the village of Nova Buda in Borodyanka Region. The village rescued itself from the war in the way it had done 80 years before; people dug mud huts in the forest, in exactly the same places where those had been during World War II. The interview is prepared by Taras Zozulinskiy, a journalist from Lviv.

Artem (A): I was born in Kyiv; now, I’m registered in Kyiv Oblast. I moved together with my mom. To Borodyanka Rayon. I studied in Kyiv; university, school. I went to the army from Kyiv as well. I had a family; a girl with a child. We were together, but the child wasn’t mine. No other was that much beloved by me, though.

Taras (T): Do you have any memories of the first day of the full-scale war?

A: I came to the railway station to go to work; in our village, Nova Buda, we have the station of Spartak. So, half of people [at the station, in the train] were shocked. The other half weren’t even going to work. We passed Irpin, then the next station; that was all. The train stopped. We weren’t moving further. People left the train and started to look for other ways to go.

But it was impossible to reach Kyiv. That was [February] 24. No transport; no train, no buses, nothing at all. I had to go back by the train that was travelling from Kyiv to Korosten.

There was no understanding of a full-scale war yet; there wasn’t even the word “war”.

T: How did your village fellows spend the following days?

A: We began to dig mug huts before anything else. I’d considered our village a godforsaken one, which no one would ever need and no one would ever invade. No infrastructure, just a rural school.

But the village began to get ready. Elderly people; forty, fifty, sixty years old. Get ready for nothing other than a war. By digging huts in the forest, which is around us. We had some equipment; excavators, cranes.

Everybody was digging. What surprised me was the fact that the huts were being dug in the same places where, as I’d heard, they had been during WWII.

But not only that was surprising; there was a hill near the hut my family and our neighbors were digging. The hill actually was the tomb of an unknown soldier of WWII. And out hut close to it. In school, a teacher used to tell us history repeats itself. I’d never believed; how can history repeat itself? But when we began to dig where [our ancestors] had dug before, I realized. Sadly, history does repeat itself.

There was no siren in the village. It couldn’t have been there, as nobody would’ve heard it. In the suburbs, an alarm is a church. Bells.

Alarm? it was explosions.

Explosions, where they actually started – in Borodyanka. Borodyanka is close and it is very well to hear how it trembled. But we weren’t scared of this. When planes and fighter jets started flying… There were many of them and they flew low, and I had such a feeling I couldn’t even look up at them because there was such a rumble that can deafen you.

Here then we began afraid of this and started to run away exactly to the forest. It was every time the same – ran away to the forest and in the forest had to sit under the ground. In the evening we came back because everything was quiet. In the morning there were explosions again, we really couldn’t see them, but we heard them everywhere.

At first, we weren’t going to leave. But six or seven days later people from Borodyanka were brought here. We don’t have the center of our village, people from Borodyanka were dropped off just near the church. They were resettled into our houses.

They were so afraid – we just couldn’t understand it yet. Something flew over, somewhere a new explosion, windows trembled. But we didn’t face these things. We didn’t understand it. But we were afraid anyway.

There are people from Borodyanka, the fighter jet and planes flew and we saw all these things. And people from Borodyanka just fell down and lay on the ground.

They fell down, tried to hide under something – just to hide from this. Children were afraid and frightened.

– How do your acquaintances from Russia comment on the military aggression?

– Various online games are very popular now. And acquaintances there are not only from russia. But most are Russians. Unfortunately, you can’t enter the game from every site. But even where you can enter, you can’t communicate with them. Absolutely. You ask a question: “How do you feel about this, what exactly is going on there? What exactly are the reasons? I watch the news, the poll, that you are so supportive of the attack on Ukraine and not only on Ukraine. What’s going on? A month ago we could communicate, my friends and acquaintances. Here, suddenly, we became enemies.”

And there are no answers to these questions. There will be no answer. Because the answer is one: “I can’t talk about it.”

And when you specifically ask: “Do you support?” – he doesn’t answer at once. And then he says, “Yes.”

– Have you seen events in which the military committed criminal acts against civilians like you?

–  There is one hundred percent testimony from Borodyanka, where an acquaintance’s husband was in the basement. He is alive, but he is mentally ill. He is over forty years old, and according to the conversation – he is six years old.

The situation there is just … I don’t know exactly how many people were in the basement, but the men were shot – I don’t know how he survived. But he survived. The men were shot immediately. But there were “kadyrovites”. These are just ugly creatures that shot men at once.

Women were raped en masse. There was not a single woman in the basement who was not raped. And they raped by the crowd – by fifteen, by twenty people. This is what an acquaintance said. It’s not what you read on the Internet – it’s what it really is.

And there was a small child, seven or eight years old – she wanted to protect her mother – children like, children always want to protect their mother. Without thinking, they shot this little child at once.

Here are the “kadyrovites”.

Here is the “russian world”.

Author: Taras Zozulinskiy


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