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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Love with a military man

    “I received a marriage proposal on a bench in the shelter. Our movie continued.” The story of military fiancee from Pervomaisk


    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Hanna Dzhyhaliuk

    29 September 2022

    Yelyzaveta Krasnichenko, 31, comes from the Mykolaiv region, from the city of Pervomaisk. However, she has not lived in her hometown since the age of 10, and is currently living in Kyiv. On June 16, after a morning message from her beloved, who was at the front, she lost all contact with him. She told the “Monologues of the war” about a search for him, her hope for a miracle, and the therapist’s support in such a situation.

    Before the war, I worked at the Odesa Film Festival, coordinated the theater scene at the Taras Shevchenko festival “She.fest”, produced several theater projects, and few days before the war itself (February 11-14) I starred in the premiere play “The Territory of a Woman” with Kapranovy brothers.  On the eve of the war, on February 22-23, I was the presenter of the “Winter Film Market” in Kyiv. I believe that I have been working on the cultural front for a long time, because starting from 2016, everything I did was aimed at the fight against the “russian world”, and I directed my intellectual and creative efforts to this.

    There was tension in the air and information that there might be a war

    February 24 was supposed to be the third day of the “Winter Film Market”, which I moderated. The event started at 11 am, so I was supposed to arrive there at 10 am, and since it wasn’t far, I set my alarm for 8:30 am. At 8 o’clock in the morning, I was woken up by the call of my friend “Are you sleeping? The war has begun. Pack an emergency suitcase…” I was in a shock.

    The first thing I did was call my boss Katya and ask if I should go to work, because the war is one thing, but when you host an event, the sense of responsibility goes overboard. Katya said that I shouldn’t, and I’d better take care of myself. Next, I called my boyfriend Serhii. He told me to pack my backpack, that he would come pick me up and that we would live and act together. I started packing. My backpack was small. I decided not to take much. Most importantly, I took warm comfortable clothes, personal hygiene items and “Kobzar” by Taras Shevchenko. This is a big book and, probably, it was not so essential in those early days of the war… But for me it has always been valuable, because we, unlike the rashists, know the price of freedom.

    Yelyzaveta Krasnichenko

    The first day of the war. I bought a newspaper with an article about my performance

    Later, Serhii came for me and we went to drink coffee, and on the way to the subway I met his mother through Viber. I remember that on that day a newspaper about my play “Talk to Me” was published in “Ukraina Moloda”. We arrived in Obolon and went looking for a newspaper. I remember that the sensations were very acute, and emotions ran high. However, next to Serhii, I felt calm and nice, regardless of anything. We decided to be together until the end. There were no thoughts of going anywhere or running away. There was a clear understanding that we needed to do something, to fight back somehow. I had the opportunity to leave, but I decided to stay in Kyiv together with Serhii. This is how our war began for us.

    We didn’t have time to get married. We met in a very unusual way

    Serhii friended me after he saw me in a photo from the “Berehynia” theater, where he once worked. He texted me about it. After analyzing his profile on Facebook, I accepted his friend request, because I thought that he is a creative person, from my environment, so to speak, so such an acquaintance could be useful, both for cooperation and in general. All creative people get to know each other, hang out, sometimes projects are born from this. So, according to this principle, I added him. For a while he was just haging there in my friend list. However, I started to come across his posts.

    He posted pictures that he made, as well as videos of his own songs. One night a video popped up in my feed. The song is titled “I believed and waited”. I listened once, then listened again, then a third time. Eventually, I wrote to him that it was a great song. That’s how we started talking, and later I invited him to my play. He promised that he would come and noted that he had been following me for a long time and more than once wanted to come to events, which I advertised on my feed, but something stopped him. But this time he came. With flowers. So we met very briefly and talked for a couple of minutes.

    Concert in Docker

    The joint concert in Docker showed that we are a great creative tandem

    In a few days, Serhii came to my next performance, where we played a stand-up show, this time in Docker in Podil. After the performance, we went for a walk. And then everything is like in the movies: walks, flowers, cinema… With the only difference that there was tension in the air, that there was going to be a war. So when it started we decided to be together.

    In the first days of the war, we ran to a nearby school for shelter

    It was there, on one of the benches of the basement, in the shelter, that he proposed to me. Our movie continued. Once (on the third or fourth day of the war) we saw how the residents of our section of the building were mixing the “Bandera smoothie” (translator’s note: Molotov cocktails). Surely, we joined. We started volunteering together with the residents of our building. Serhii lived with his 16-year-old son. His mother decided to send him abroad. We sent the boy away and went to the local military headquarters. They told us to go away and didn’t give us any weapons.

    Soon I found out that Serhii went there without me, and later he was called to join the territorial defense unit. In the evening, he sat down and made me a picture he called “The Moon.” On March 15, he became a TD soldier. Thus began a completely different life. We began to look for and buy military items, such as a bulletproof vest, a helmet. Our friends and acquaintances helped in this. Over time, he began to look like a real soldier, although he had never had any experience before the war. He did not serve in the army, but he used to dream about it… He was very proud that he was given a machine gun, because his grandfather (or great-grandfather) was also a machine gunner… He also became the heart and  soul of his company, giving concerts, because he had a completely patriotic one-hour program. Once we even did a joint concert in Docker on Podil: I read poems, he sang songs. It was inspiring.

    Serhii said that they would leave soon, but they were going to be in the Kyiv region, as they would hardly be sent to the East, because they didn’t have the relevant experience. Although he may have wanted to have such experience. However, it happened differently. They were supposed to be on the border with Belarus, but ended up in the East of the country…

    When he served in Kyiv, we saw each other regularly, because he was released for a couple of hours, sometimes for a day…

    So we happily spent time together. Then, when Serhii was already going away, he warned me that there would be communication problems. He bought another phone (a simpler one), but kept in touch with me. On June 16, after his morning message the contact was lost. Later, we received a message that he went missing during the artillery shelling. According to his brothers-in-arms, they could not take his body away, because the shelling was too heavy. The territory is still occupied, there are no exchanges held in Toshkivka. In June, there were bloody battles in Toshkivka. They did not have the right to send the inexperienced guys to zero, or rather to the -1 position… However, all requests of relatives to the State Bureau of Investigation, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and other institutions are ignored. Despite the great losses of the command of the 57th brigade of the 34th battalion, they receive awards and medals, and the relatives cannot even get legal payments, which should (in this case) be received by Serhii’s mother in order to help her grandson, but there is nothing. We all understand what war is and who our enemy is.

    Serhii Semena

    Serhii Semena — a warrior of light and goodness

    Serhii knew what he was fighting for, he was conscious of it, but it is a shame that we have to fight hard to find our loved one to at least bury him with honors. It turns out that burying a loved one with dignity is already a kind of success, because not everyone is buried and this is a great tragedy 

    I turned to a therapist for help, because I had never had such an experience of losing a loved one

    I did not know how to live with it, what to do, I was confused and devastated. Yulia Onukhova, a psychologist, helped me, and I am very grateful that specialists of this level work in volunteer projects. The main thing in such a loss is whether a person is ready to go on living. And everyone makes this choice on their own. No one will be able to help if the person does not want it. I made the choice to live on for several reasons. First of all, deep in my heart I still hope for a miracle and that anything can happen in war, and what if he’s a prisoner… Although there is little hope, it is there. The second reason is that from now on, I am responsible for knowing and remembering Serhii and his feat. He is not only a hero for me. All of his work, his songs with the “Semenaband”, his paintings, all these are achievements that should be etched in the memory of Ukrainians. And I really want his story to be known by current and future generations. He was unique, that’s no exaggeration. Sincere, simple, true and terribly talented. It’s a pity that God takes the best… Well, the third reason to live is to see the world and Ukraine without rashists. I am convinced that it will be a beautiful world.

    Searching for Serhii

    We appealed to the State Bureau of Investigation, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the military unit and the military headquarters. And also to different prosecutors’ offices and to the general prosecutor’s office. They all say that it is not their competence, that the territory is occupied, that one should submit DNA and wait for deoccupation. That’s all. I also addressed the journalists of various mass media. No one wants to write about it, because the enemy often later uses such materials for their own benefit. I understand this, but I don’t know how to get to the authorities… We have hired a lawyer, we are sending official requests, we are waiting and believing in a miracle. Toshkivka needs publicity. Because all those who got into that hell are at least heroes, and not just those who went missing during the shelling.

    Read also: “We weren’t running away from poverty, but here we have to ask for basic things”: how Tetiana Ponomar evacuated from Cherkasy to England with two children

    At first, when I learned about Serhii, I thought about going abroad. However, then I started dealing with the red tape, searching for him, helping his mother (she came from abroad) and realized that I will not go anywhere until I find him. If I have to travel for a short time for work, then this is one thing, it will be very useful. But I am not in the mood to leave, to run away from the war. This is our land, so if someone has to run away from here, it should be rashists and preferably in garbage bags.

    Thoughts about the war

    The situation is difficult, we will deal with it for a long time. We have inadequate neighbors. And this, unfortunately, is not putin. If it was only him, then everything would be much easier. All russians are like that. They do not know their real history, they do not value freedom, they live only on the humiliation of others and do not know how to make things of their own. My friends and I have seen and known this for a long time. It was sad to watch those people who did not understand it and believed in “good russians”, but they are gone. A good Russian is every 200s. Therefore, no matter what, Ukraine will defeat the rashists. Unfortunately, we pay a high price for this… But we have to fight for victory and it will surely come. After the Victory, I dream of living, working, healing Ukraine with cultural events and preserving the memory of the best, of those who are fighting for it now.

    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: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Hanna Dzhyhaliuk


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