АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Nadiia Shovkoplias
28 May 2022
Mykhailo Starodynov is 17 years old. He is a volunteer from Sievierodonetsk. When the aimed fire from multiple rocket launcher (MRL) “Grad” started, the young man was unloading a truck with humanitarian aid. He was severely wounded by debris and was hospitalized. But he still regrets that he can’t continue to help people now.
I was born and raised in Sievierodonetsk. I studied at a local college for a car mechanic. That morning I went there to pass my term project. I was already reaching the college when the rockets were launched at our airfield. I heard 2 explosions and realized that it had begun.
My parents and I stayed at home until March. At first, I tried to go to work for a while, but when the shelling in the town got heavier, everyone stayed at home.
There were no air raid sirens in the town.
“It was possible to understand that the shelling started when you had already been under it or heard its sound somewhere nearby”.
At that time, we were hiding in the basement, because the bomb shelter was very far from us. My dad worked next to that shelter. He said it was secure and had a light and water supply. But it was unreal to get there – you had to walk through the debris and broken roads. Besides, that district was constantly under shelling.
On March 8, I decided to go to a humanitarian center to help people. But my first “working” day didn’t last long. My parents called me around noon and said: “Come home, we are moving to our grandparents.” It turned out that our house was fired from “Grad”. Mom and Dad were at home at that time. It was a close call, but we were lucky to avoid the shells. But they hit our neighbors’ flats.
“At first I didn’t understand what had happened. I ran and looked at the house. It seemed undamaged, but then I went around the other side and saw it being completely destroyed. Someone lost their balcony, in some places one story fell on another one…”
I saw the military pulling at least two people out of the rubble. I don’t know if they were dead or injured.
Every day I went to the Humanitarian Center to volunteer. At first, I just packed the products in packages, handed out to people who registered for getting humanitarian aid. And when “Ukrposhta” gave us a truck, I said that I could drive such a car. And I began to drive around the town, delivering food.
When some grocery store was destroyed by shelling, we contacted the owner and asked permission to take the groceries. Most of them agreed to open the store for us, and we took everything people needed in the presence of the police.
I drove a truck to collect food, then delivered it to different parts of the town, including those that were often shelled. To get to those districts, you probably have to think a bit differently or what… Many people were afraid to go there because you never know when and what you’ll be shelled with. I somehow tried to break through so that the guys at the checkpoints had something to eat.
Sometimes, you heard the launch of “Grads” or mortar munitions while unloading . Then you have to fall to the ground and pray that it doesn’t hit you.
One day the four of us were lying under a truck because we didn’t have time to hide in a bomb shelter. That’s how it works: if you’re a few steps away from the shelter, run. And if you are in an open area, but you still have to reach the shelter, fall to the ground or under the car, because the debris goes up about 1.5 meters and flies away in all directions for 400 meters.
It happened on April 5. Someone gave Russians the coordinates of our base location. And they decided to hit us with cluster shells of “Grad”. The collaborator was found in 2-3 days. It turned out to be a 26-year-old man from Sievierodonetsk.
Two guys and I were unloading MAZ-22 (model of a car) to return to Bakhmut for another humanitarian aid. And at about 10 a.m., one of my partners heard the whistle of “Grad” and shouted: “Lie down!”. We managed to take only one step when we both were blown away…
I don’t remember everything because I was shocked then. I looked at my knee, and it’s torn, my leg is twisted at 90 degrees and I feel hellish pain. I feel like I can’t move it. The guy I was driving with is lying on my left. I look at him and don’t know if he’s alive or not…
Recently they told me that the shells exploded about 15 meters from us.
One guy wasn’t injured. I didn’t have half a knee. And there was another one (he’s now in Lviv), whose spine was damaged, his legs were severely cut, and debris hit his head.
At that time, there were police officers inside the building. They waited for the shelling to stop, went out and found us. They saw the following: one guy’s lying and can’t move his feet, I’m shouting…
“At first they didn’t understand what happened to me, then they examined my leg, and there was, roughly speaking, – minced meat”.
They put us on pallets and took us to a shelter because the interval between shelling is only 5 minutes, as long as recharge continues. They called an ambulance. It arrived as soon as possible. We were taken to the medical aid post. There they provided all possible help, and put in an IV because it was unreal for surgeons to operate on us in those conditions. Then I was taken to Lysychansk together with other victims. In the military hospital, doctors began to “collect us in pieces”. I was operated on from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. And at 7 p.m. I had already been taken to Dnipro. There the doctors collected everything they could collect… Everything left of my leg … I don’t know how many operations I had…
My parents left Sievierodonetsk after I was fired. I asked my boss, and she helped with the evacuation. Today they are in Ivano-Frankivsk.
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: Nadiia Shovkoplias
“Until the last moment, I hoped that russia would not dare to launch a full-scale attack, but relying on 2014, I knew that someday it would happen,” – this is a story of a woman from Luhansk who is fleeing the war for the second time already