АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Mariia Orletska
12 July 2022
Before the war, Liudmyla Stadnik lived in Kherson. She was able to flee the city only on the fifth attempt. Running away was hard and the situation in occupied Kherson was worsening every minute. Liudmyla Stadnyk has exclusively told War Monologues about her adventures.
Before the war, I had a job in the field of water management. The organization where I was employed at was involved in the irrigation of the Kherson region. We worked with both large agricultural holdings and small farms. I was keen on what I was doing, especially how our water management field and the region were developing. With the beginning of the war, there was less and less work to do, our company went into decline. Unfortunately, when I decided to leave I had to quit my job.
Before the war, one of my hobbies was traveling. I used to enjoy visiting new cities and getting to know their cultures, architecture as well as art.
Till the last moment, I refused to believe that there would be a full-scale invasion. There was some anxiety on a subconscious level, but I associated it with other events of a personal nature. On February 24th, I was shocked and confused, my brain refused to take in this reality.
On February 24th, I woke up around 5 o’clock in the morning because of a strange ringing of the windows and shaking of the walls. I frankly did not understand what was happening, for some reason I thought it was an earthquake. The apartment in which I lived was located five kilometers away from the airport in Chornobayivka, and I felt all the “missile attacks”.
Then I fell asleep and woke up at 6 am as usual. After the morning shower, my mother told me about the beginning of the war. A little later we saw black smoke in the direction of the airport. There was a shock, confusion, then even hysteria. However, it was necessary to get together and go to work to receive instructions on further actions. From the first day of the war, railway transport in Kherson stopped running, and there was chaos in the city. There were immediately huge queues for products in stores, there was also panic among people. Everything was taken swiftly. Medicines began to disappear along with the products.
I hoped to the last moment that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would come and Kherson would be liberated, but there was no sense waiting for a miracle. I had been having faith only for two months. The situation became worse every day, the rashists began to feel too comfortable in the city and behaved shamefully. After a month and a half of an occupation, I started thinking about fleeing and my parents insisted on it. Life simply paused, the city was gradually declining before our eyes, fear was growing more and more.
I started writing to those who left, asking them questions. Eventually, my best friend persuaded me to make the decision. She urgently needed to take a child out of the city for treatment. We decided to go through it together. Three weeks had passed since our first attempt and actual departure! Five attempts, a change of several carriers, and here we are – on May 12th, we were finally able to get into the territory controlled by Ukraine.
In general, the further away from Kherson, the more unrealistic and more expensive it was to flee. According to acquaintances, it was easier to leave in March. Then the rashists realized that people were fleeing and that they could be used as a shield and started their cruelties. Volunteers have a long queue and it is already a month ahead. There are only private carriers, and there the prices are completely different: buses and minivans are cheaper, cars are much more expensive. But this is not the whole problem. Roads are gradually being blocked by the rashists. Our very first departure was to be through Snigurivka to Mykolaiv, and then to Odesa. However, the day before departure, Snigurivka was finally closed and mined. Bashtanka was to be next – the same situation. They didn’t let us out of Velyka Oleksandrivka. The last hope and our breakthrough were only through David Brid to Kryvyi Rih. As far as I know, this road is now also closed. Vasylivka and the road to Zaporizhzhia remain open. It is becoming more and more unrealistic for people to get into the territory controlled by Ukraine. But there are many offers to flee to Crimea on any given day, but this is the most dangerous way.
We changed all our phones to the basic settings and tried to hide them deeper in our bags. The rashists checked everything and could get at you because of the color of the application on your phone. They could take away or break your phone because they didn’t like it, and they could land you in a field and make you dig trenches or even shoot you. More informed soldiers looked for accounts on social media using information from our passports so we even temporarily deleted our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
If these bastards saw that you were shooting a video from the car, they either stopped the car and arranged a full search along with humiliation or opened fire.
A friend’s mother helped us with housing. If we had nowhere to go, maybe we wouldn’t have dared. We spent the first week filing papers, and the following two we were sick. Now we are slowly returning to life. The plan is to visit a psychologist and learn the Polish language. Next, we will look at the situation.
I try to maintain contact with my parents and friends. But the situation in Kherson is critical, the mobile connection is shut down and only a few providers work through a Russian server. That’s why we only talk when parents catch free wi-fi somewhere near the office of those providers, or come to visit my friend. Unfortunately, there are no other options. The situation in the city is getting worse. There is not enough medicine, it is impossible to withdraw money from cards, and cash is scarce. The prices of goods, except for local vegetables, are two to three times higher than the prices in controlled cities, the rashists are taking over the entire business, trying to push their mobile operators. The city is simply becoming deserted, many people, especially the elderly, beg for alms because they have no money to buy the necessary products. Most people are forced to simply take the enemy’s humanitarian aid in order not to die of hunger.
Explosions and gunshots are heard every day. The number of soldiers in the city is mounting , they are spreading everywhere like cockroaches. It is becoming more and more dangerous to walk on the streets.
For the time being and the war going on, we plan to settle down in Poland. However, I really want to believe that this war will end soon and we will return. The country will have to be rebuilt and raised to a high level. I really want Ukraine to flourish after the war and become one of the most advanced countries in the world. We still have to build a huge wall on our border with two abnormal neighbors.
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: Mariia Orletska