Intercultura Interviste

Stories from Ukraine


Di Elettra Faenza, 3AL

 

Dear readers,

In this period, one year after the start of the tragic war in Ukraine, we are spectators of a rapidly changing world, where a new story is being written every day. All this may make us believe that we can not change anything, but it is not like that.

Three courageous Ukrainian women told me about their experiences over the course of the year. Their stories are a reminder in the pages of our shared history; they are also our history. But just as a book without readers informs no one, so our story cannot become part of the history without someone is able to remember it.

So even we, who believe we can not change anything, have the task of remembering. Let’s remember that behind the news, behind the photos and videos, behind the articles, there are always people: people fighting for the right to live a life that we take for granted.

Today I have the honor to talk about some of those people, about these women who are not as far as you might think.

So, dear viewers of our changing world, their stories are for you.

I interviewed Elizabeth, Viktoria and Natalya for you, asking them what the current situation was like in their hometown, their opinions about the Ukrainian and Russian people, about the two presidents and, in the case of Viktoria and Natalya, who lived in Italy, their experience in our country.

Elizabeth, 18 years old, music college student.

“Unfortunately my hometown, Lisichansk (in the Luhansk region), is now under Russian occupation. I don’t know for sure, but there is no active fighting there. There is occasional shelling, but the city has gas and in some areas there is even electricity. There is still no water in the city. Drinking water and service water are brought in separately.

Propaganda in Russia is very strong. They brainwash the population. Perhaps the rank-and-file soldiers at the beginning of the war did not know where they were going, but the generals certainly knew and deliberately led their troops to kill Ukrainians. It is a pity that they do not understand that this is not liberation, but genocide.

For eight years we did not think there would be war. A week before the full-scale invasion, everyone said there would be a war, but nobody took it seriously.

I found out about the war in the morning, when my mother woke me up and told me to pack my things. When my family and I went to Ukraine, we thought the war would have ended quickly and we would have soon been back in our little Lisichansk, but it dragged on for a long time. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it, but then I really missed my city, because my whole life is connected to it. It was hard to accept the fact that I would probably never go back there again.

I have now come to terms with it and I plan to go and live abroad in the future, because as long as Russia is next door to Ukraine there will be no peaceful life in the country, I think.

I live in Kropivnitskiy now. My town was quite small and Kropivnitsky is a regional town, but to be honest, there is not much difference. I lived near the territory that the Russians occupied in 2014, the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics. My family is Russian-speaking. In my school the classes were divided into Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking. The Russian language and their culture were not humiliated at school or anywhere else. In the last years before the war there was more emphasis on the Ukrainian language, and lessons were taught in it. But this is perfectly legitimate, because it is on Ukrainian territory. The use of the state language did not in any way oppress the Russian language. In Ukraine, everyone is free to speak the language they feel most comfortable in, and no one has ever been discriminated against for that.

At the moment, I’m focused on finding myself. I often dream, but I prioritise my goals. I believe that despite the circumstances, you have to be strong in spirit.  Life goes on, so don’t hang on to the past. The world is rather unfair, but sooner or later evil will be punished.”

Viktoria, 17 years old, student in Kyiv Polytechnical Institute of Ihor Sikorsky

“Today there was an alarm, though they offered “Christmas peace day” and promised not to shoot, but the rocket didn’t get to the city, it was shot down. Two weeks ago the rocket got into the electricity station, and the city was blacked out for 24 hours, and there was no water also.

I think Ukrainian people are very united. Before the war you could see people arguing in some public transport, but now when you go somewhere you feel very loved by people around, everyone cares for each other. I had a situation when I was sitting in the cafe with my friend, and a soldier who came home for the weekend, as he told us later, came in with a huge bouquet of red roses and gave one rose to everyone who was in the cafe, wishing everyone a calm day.

In 2019 people didn’t really believe in Zelens’kyj, but they wanted somebody who would do something not only for himself but for people. And he became a real leader during covid-19 times because he organized the medicine system, and he paid money for every anti Covid vaccinations. Now he started to help civil people, even if they are in a safe place in Ukraine, that lost their job or don’t have windows, or to people who are old he also gives money or products. Before the elections he was a showman, a comedian and he did a lot of films, but he really did a huge amount of work to become such a strong and professional leader.

I was asleep before school and I suddenly heard a loud noise of a plane, and through sleep I hear the voice of my dad who screamed: “In the bathroom, on the floor”. I haven’t woken up faster in my life. It doesn’t feel as it should until you experience everything.

We knew about the famous soldiers from Azov, Aidar, and Cyborgs, liberation of Mariupol. Everyone was talking about the full scale war from the beginning of February but we couldn’t believe it would really happen in a civilized country in the 21st century.

The journey was hard because the train station in my city was closed, and we got to another small city’s railway, where we began our journey to Lviv. The railways were on fire, the driver changed his way to be safe almost every hour, and once we stopped due to the shelling of Kyiv nuclear powerplant, because the Russians were entering the territory and occupying it. The train was standing in the middle of the woods without any light not to be caught, but generally it was okay and took a day and a half. From Lviv we took a bus to Uzhgorod where we stayed at my mom’s friend’s place. Despite all of the terrible situations, mountains during winter made me feel better. We also stopped in the Czech Republic at a friend’s place, so we got to Italy in about a week.

I don’t think there are many differences between young Italian and Ukrainian people, because we both watch Netflix, like maneskin, go to the discos and have almost similar clothing tastes…but we got used to politics since we were kids. In fact, when I was six the studio of Zelensky made a jokey tale cartoon where he hyperbolized politics into the tale characters. I think we had to mature before the Italian people. I am currently taking my responsibilities to find a flat, to get all the details and documents.

Coming back to Ukraine was amazing, because we were sure that we wouldn’t come back. I had a friend in Russia, we were friends since childhood and she lived in Ukraine but she was forced to move to Moscow, to her mom’s relatives Firstly she was asking about everything and I thought she was okay, but then she started to say that Zelensky lied to us, that we couldn’t beat Russia, that we were all crazy and nothing could happen to Russia. My uncle is in the army and he says that the conditions are very good. To my worried grandma he said: ”Mom, I eat well, I was ill and the commander insisted on resting, I found friends, and I also have an Avtomat”. While Russian generals didn’t even want to take back the dead bodies, they left them laying around Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. We asked the Russians to take them back, and they refused. Soldiers are meat to that side. Also some soldiers who got captured, cried and didn’t want to come back.

To tell the truth, I go dancing, partying and etc, but before I go I always donate at least a half of sum I will spend for a ticket or coffee.”

 

Natalya, 45 years old, nurse.

“Currently, the situation in my home region, Odessa, is very tense. There is always the risk of losing one’s life or being injured by Russian missiles or kamikaze drones at any time of the day. The administrative center and several villages in the region, after the bombing of the energy infrastructure in Odessa, continue to ‘live’ several hours of the day without light or water.

I can say that I am proud of the resistance of my compatriots in Ukraine, who live every hour of the day in a very difficult situation: so many people without a home, light, water and with little food. In the cold they continue to resist and help others ‘more needy than themselves’. I am proud of my country’s president Volodymyr Zelens’kyj. He is a true and rare leader, a patriot who supports his people with all his strength. News is not always delivered in the right way, it depends on the TV show and channel. There are some programmes that try to increase the audience by inviting ‘war specialists’ into the studio, who until yesterday did not know Ukraine existed. I would like to ask you to pay attention when reading or listening to any news, in this case about the war in Ukraine, remember to check the sources of the information, because there are also fake news.

The war in Ukraine started on 24 February 2022 with the invasion of Russia. Ukrainians are fighting on their own land, defending their families, their homes….their freedom from the Russian aggressor. To end this conflict, Russian troops must permanently withdraw from all Ukrainian territory. 

I conclude by quoting the words of Gino Strada:

“…War pleases those who do not know it, those who do know it get the idea very quickly. It doesn’t matter why there is a war, every war has a constant, 90% of the victims are civilians. They are people who have never picked up a rifle, they are people who very often do not even know why a mine explodes under their feet or a bomb lands on their head…”

 

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