АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
24 June 2022
Evgenia Golovacheva lives in Kyiv and works as a consignee. On February 24, she and her husband left for the village of Kopyliv, which was occupied a few days later. A week and a half later, Eugenia and her relatives managed to leave Kopylov thanks to the “green corridor”. Details – in the material below.
On the eve of February 24, I read in the news that there might be a war. I did not believe in it until the last moment, as well as my colleagues at work. They reassured me, because I’m a bit of a panicker by nature. Colleagues said: “Well, what are you, 21st century outside, what a war !?” Nevertheless, we started training at work – they gave instructions on how to act in a situation of war. This, of course, was a little alarming, but I still did not believe that it was possible. On February 23, when I was already going to bed, the last news I read was that there were only a few years left before the Russian attack. However, I thought that was not true, but the next day it all started.
On February 24, as usual, I got up in the morning and started going to work. My husband and I drank tea and heard some incomprehensible sounds outside the window, which are like explosions. We thought it was just taking out the trash because the sounds were similar. But then the explosions were repeated several times, which made our windows shake. After that, I realized that this is clearly not garbage, but something that should not be. Then I turned on the news and announced on 1 + 1 that the war had begun, we were attacked, but don’t worry, our air defense is working, shooting down enemy missiles. Then my mother, who was going to work, called. Its chief “unfolded” with the words: “No work – the country started a war. We all sit at home”. I work in critical infrastructure, so our store did not stop working.
On the evening of February 24, my husband and I decided to leave Kyiv because it was scary. We thought that it would be safer in the village of Kyiv region and no one would touch us there. So, in the evening we went to Kopyliv on the Irpin highway, because it was simply impossible to pass the Zhytomyr highway, there was a “dead” traffic jam. In Irpen, we also got into a traffic jam because we started firing. You go in cars and don’t go, what can you do: go on, or go out and run somewhere to shelter.
She knew that we were not alone, because we were taking animals with us. How could I leave them in the car? During the shooting, real chaos began: dogs ran under cars, people fled somewhere to shelter
It was very scary to go to the sounds of these explosions and see the glow from them. We got there by detours. We were guided by a navigator to get around all these traffic jams. We drove for about 2 years, although at the usual time the road to Kopylov took forty minutes. Terribly scared, but we still got to the village, where our relatives were already. The first three days in Kopilov everything was calm, but then the “most interesting” began.
We heard explosions because Bucha, Irpin and Gostomel are not far from us. And then the neighbor told us: “Prepare the basement, they will go!” We were preparing, but we thought that you would not come to our village.
On the evening of February 27, a neighbor, whose husband was in the defense, called us again and said, “You have half an hour to go down to the basement and get all your belongings and documents.” Indeed, half an hour later we felt the explosions, which were not somewhere far away, but very close. For the first time I heard the sound of tanks and armored personnel carriers. The real notch has begun. Our guys are good, fought back to the last, but what about those 10 people, against those people who were in Russia ..?
Rashists came to our village. They drove people out of one house and settled there. They chose, of course, a house with all amenities. On the first day we still had light and disguise as such was not yet. There is a Zhytomyr highway nearby, “lights” were still visible, but then everything turned off. When the Russians were driving, they probably connected the poles to some generator. Because they did not have the usual white light, like diode bulbs, but some yellow. We realized that they turned it on for themselves so we could see where to go. They watched it from the backyard of the house, heard the roar of their equipment. After that, we had light for another 2-3 days, and then there was nothing left: no electricity, no gas, no water. And we have small children, and I don’t know how to get out of this situation. The stock of products is limited, but especially it is not desirable. As soon as we sat down to eat, they wanted to “shoot”. In such conditions, of course, did not think about food, but about the fact that at least have time to go down to the basement.
On the fifth day, a refugee came to us. His name is Andriy, he is a worker in Kyiv and was on a visit from there to his home – to Western Ukraine, to the whole family. He told us that he was driving a Volkswagen van. There were about 10 passengers in the cabin. They, like us, also drove on detours, following all the rules – the lights were on, “on the emergency lights”, with white rags, which indicated that civilians were driving. But they came across a road where Russians were sitting.
“Those scoundrels just shot this minibus. Both men and women. From there, two survived: Andrew and another man”.
When it was all over, they sat for a long time, then quietly went out and moved in different directions. Andrew walked for a long time through the fields and forests. He went from memory, because in Kopylov he had a distant relative who used to live. As he was moving along the river, the Russians noticed him and started firing at him. Andrew ran towards our house. We heard that they were firing not somewhere in the center, but very close to us, because our garage even trembled. My husband opens the window for him, Andriy ran, waving his passport in his hands: “Guys, let me go, please let me go!”. The man quickly closed the window behind him and let him into the house. We sheltered him and he explained to us this scary story about the shot minibus. Every time there was a shooting, his face shows that Andrew experienced severe stress.
The Russians walked the streets of our village with machine guns. I tried not to go outside because we were very scared. Our men walked on water because we didn’t have it. They saw these soldiers, and they pointed machine guns at them. Next, after the guys drew water, the Russians followed them and shared where they were going? There was also a situation where one fellow villager was taken prisoner. The boy’s father approached the Russians and said: “Guys, if you killed or shot him, tell me, where did you dig him up or throw him? That I at least buried my son in a human way … ». They say : “We did not kill anyone, we did not take anyone prisoner, go to your uncle where he went.” And then it turned out that he was in Moscow. It may be wrong to say so, but I think we are lucky that we were not touched. There were no such atrocities as in Bucha, Irpen, and other cities and towns of Kyiv region. This will allow us to leave in the week and a half that we spent in the occupation.
Our departure began with the rumor of this green corridor. Then I approached my fellow villagers and asked, “How did you find out?” They replied that other people had told them about it. But whether it was official information, who received it: our guys from the Armed Forces or the Russians – no one knew. They simply said that such a rumor had spread. However, we decided to go. It was impossible to stay in this situation with small children. Like us, the children did not sleep at night, ate poorly, were constantly fussy. For people, a week and a half doesn’t seem like much, but for us they lasted an eternity. I thought it would never end. So we decided to try our luck and leave. After that, another said that he parked the car under the Makariv Bridge, and from there they came to us on foot. He said: “You will see on the road, there is such a” twin “in the direction of Zhytomyr! Do not be afraid, everything will be fine, you will not be shot”.
We gathered in a column. There were about ten cars from our street, they also pulled up with others. In total, there were about 15-17 cars. We went to the Zhytomyr highway, and there – no one! No cars … More precisely, the cars were, but shot, crushed, or simply abandoned. Our column was accompanied by Russians under the barrel of machine guns. They made sure that, God forbid, no car left the convoy and went any other way.
“Further along the route, we came across a Russian tank, which stands in the middle of the road, with a barrel aimed at us. The Russians got out with him and made machine guns at us. It was very scary, because on one side – a field, and on the other – a forest strip. They were afraid that they might just shoot from one of the pages. We reached the Makariv Bridge, where we were told to get out of the car with our hands up”.
Thus ended our evacuation from the occupation. Andrew was also with us. He went further – to Zhytomyr. There he got on a minibus at the station and got home. Then he called us and thanked us for rescuing him. Now he is fine, he is at home with his family.
My husband and I went to my parents in the Zhytomyr region, in the village of Rakovichi. It is located not far from Makarov, in a straight line – 15 kilometers. The sounds of explosions were also heard there, but they reassured themselves that it was already far away. Although, our plane crashed in Rakovichi, just a few days before our arrival. We were told that two drones took off from Belarus and shot him down. He fell on the field, but not far from the houses.
Together with her husband they then came to Kopyliv, talked to neighbors who did not leave then. They said that after we left, they continued to bomb and shoot. Then the Russians moved to the village and our guys from the Armed Forces started firing at them. All these shells flew over our street. The other neighbors in the yard were hit by a fragment, and another house almost knocked out a wall. The fiercest fighting took place in the center of the village, where many houses and infrastructure were destroyed.
During the occupation, of course, it was very scary, but I tried not to scatter and support those around me. They tried to distract themselves from some routine work – cooking, cleaning, washing. The only thing was that when they heard explosions nearby, they froze for two minutes. If somewhere specifically “flew” – went to hide in the basement. Now my husband and I have already returned to Kyiv. We don’t plan to go anywhere else, because I’m eating at home, and I said I won’t go anywhere else.
After the victory, our country will be a thousand better than it is now, because the war is changing the outlook on life. You start thinking in a whole new way. You understand that life is the greatest value.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Iryna Myronenko