АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
1 June 2022
33-year-old Lilia Dudnik, who lives in Bakhmut, had already experienced one occupation in 2014. However she has still lived and raised her daughter in her native city. But with her closest ones she was forced to leave everything behind in search of security, after russia had begun the large-scale invasion of Ukraine. She found a shelter in Cherkasy, but mental balance and peace.
We realized that the war was coming to our city, when heard that putin recognized the independence of the so-called DPR/LPR. We realized that he would like to take the whole Lugansk and Donetsk regions. Bakhmut is just 30 km away from the demarcation line. Everyone in the city was confused: no one knew what to wait, what to do ― flee or stay… Then the 24th of February came.
It was an emotional morning. At 6 a.m. messages were coming one after another. I got about 30 of them in 10 seconds. The phone was ringing. I thought; “What could have happened?” I looked at my phone and saw messages: “It’s a special military operation! Putin announced the military operation!” They sent me the video where he said that. I called my friend from Kharkiv who lives in Saltivka to ask him what he knows about it. And I heard explosions. He told me: “I know it, I see it, I hear it. They are already near Kharkiv.”
I started to rush around my apartment, to pack my things. I panicked, still my emergency bag with documents and medicaments had been already packed in 2014 and lied for 8 years under my bed. But I was just a mess. I didn’t realize where to go and what to do… Then my Mom said: “Let’s see what happen.” Since that moment I was constantly following the news. The first time we heard the siren sound in Bakhmut was a shock,it was like death loomed at our door. Then the offensive against Kiev and Kharkiv regions began…
I was still waiting to see if they would come against us or not. But the city was still quiet, so we stayed at home. It lasted till the second of April.
I clearly remember the second of April. It was scary. Just before we decided to flee due to heavy fighting in Izum that is not so far away from us. We heard that the city is under occupation. So on the second of April while my daughter and I were packing our things we heard the roar from the outside as a missile was launched from Baikonur cosmodrome.
The walls were shaking, we rushed to the corridor. We saw running people from the windows. They shouted: “Into the hiding! Rockets!”
“I immediately panicked: my arms and legs were shaking, my daughter cried. Three rockets fell in the central park, but they didn’t explode”.
On the 3th of April in the morning my parents, my daughter, my friend with her child were already out of the city.
Frankly speaking, it was so scary. Everything I wanted at that moment was to go out of Donetsk region. The only way then was through Pokrovsk and I realized that a bomb could fall on ua, because the war was near the road. All the way I was scared.
It became a little calmer in Dnipr region. The sun came out and it seemed the war was somewhere far away now… We came to Pavlograd and the civil defense sirens sounded around. We were back to the tough reality. I realized that we fled, but the war wouldn’t go away… It followed us.
I had already experienced the occupation in 2014. But what happened then and what is happening now are like Heaven and Earth. I was on maternity leave then ― my daughter was born in 2014. I didn’t really read the news, I became fully immersed in parenting. I spent time in the yard not far away from my home due to the occupation of the city.
Now my daughter is older, she’ll remember everything, unfortunately. A memory of a fear when rockets falling on the city ― our children will bear this cross. I recall a visit to my friend in Kharkiv. We were in the Gorky park and an attraction started with a sound like “TOCHKA-U” was launched. I immediately protected my head. Everyone was surprised, but those who went through the occupation would understand me.
It’s hard for me, but there are people with much worse problems. I do understand that many people have no place to come back. Not only their houses are ruined, but their cities also are! For example, Volnovaha, Mariupol… I was so impressed by our unity. Before the 24th of February I didn’t ever think that we could be so united, honestly.
I’m telling this and crying. All as one we stood to defend our country! Even children sing the anthem of Ukraine while playing! Everyone does what they can to bring our victory closer.
I also was so impressed by the violence of our enemy, because I was sure that a man couldn’t do such things in the 21th century.
What will happen after the victory? I think I will show all Ukraine to my daughter. She has already been to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Berdiansk, Odesa. We were going to visit Lviv in May, but it didn’t happen. So after the war I’ll show her the West of Ukraine, show her Krym.
Last time I was there in 2013 ― I stood on the embankment of Yalta carrying the Dasha under my heart. I promised myself to come here again with her. It is my dream.
I believe that children should see what it’s for they can love their native country. Not pictures from textbooks, but real things, emotions and pleasant associations remain in the memory. The sea in Odesa, something else in Kiev. When you see it all with your own eyes, you know what you love.
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: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova