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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    bodies of Ukrainians burned found in a cellar

    Nikita Tretyakov: “There were only four of us: two elderly women, me and my uncle against twelve armed and angry rashists”

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Iryna Kovalenko

    2 July 2022

    With constant threats and under gunpoint by the russian army. Thus, 16-year-old boy Nikita Tretyakov has survived for a month and a half in his village Husarivka, in the Kharkiv region. He lost his own home, hid from mortar fire in a snowed forest belt, and through his own eyes saw atrocities of russian. All these things took place before the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated the village. The guy left to a safe place only after de-occupation. 

    At the beginning of March, the russians occupied the town of Balakliya, Kharkiv region, and a day later, our village of Husarivka, former Balaklia district and villages nearby this district. The city of Izyum was also occupied around this time. The battle began. The first shelling.

    Russians set up their headquarters on a local farm. They were let in by the leadership and fed so they would not touch civilians. Soon our troops began shelling the headquarters, and the rashists ran to the yards of civilians.

    Our soldiers hit the russian infantry fighting vehicle, but it managed to make the last shot at my house. It burned to the ground. It happened on March 8. At that time, I was not at home, and I went to my grandmother, who also lived in Husarivka. Then I got a call and people told me what had happened. About ten houses also were destroyed that morning.

    An armored personnel carrier drove into my grandmother’s yard, and there were twelve angry Russians

    We hid in the cellar of my grandmother’s house, but it was not too deep and situated far from the house, it could happen that we just were not able to get there during the shelling. So two days later we went to my grandmother’s sister’s. Her cellar was deeper, more equipped: there was a furnace inside, so it was possible to heat because there were frosts.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine scared the russians, and they left the village on March 8, but they came back on March 10, just when we moved to my grandmother’s sister. Two days have passed since an armored personnel carrier filled with Russian soldiers drove into our yard. They began to look for shelter, checked sheds, cellars. Thus, they shielded themselves with civilians, since they did not risk returning to the farm, where they were fired at by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

    The invaders saw us, took us outside, said that they had come to liberate us, that they had already taken Kharkiv, that they were taking Kyiv, that the war would end in two or three days. 

    Farm in Husarivka, where the russian army set up their headquarters

    Farm in Husarivka, where the russian army set up their headquarters

    Of course, we didn’t believe any of it, but we didn’t tell them anything because there were only four of us: two elderly women, me and my uncle, against twelve armed and angry rashists.

    Then they decided to go to our neighbors’ because there were vineyards and it was possible to hide the armored personnel carrier. Still, they came to us every day. At this time, there was no electricity, gas was yet available for a few days, but we were already preparing firewood.

    Four days later, the Armed Forces of Ukraine began firing because our (of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – translator’s note) drone spotted an armored personnel carrier and another armored personnel carrier. Good that we managed to reach the basement.

    The russian army hid from the Armed Forces of Ukraine behind the backs of civilians

    When we got out, we saw that shrapnel had damaged the house. Their commander Alexei, call sign “Owl” (Ukrainian “Filin” – translator’s note), came to us and said: “Yes, two of you come here!”. They took my uncle and me and led us to a neighbor’s cellar. They put us in front of a wall and began to interrogate us, they cursed. They asked us: “Why are they firing at us?”. We answered, that, you know, you invaded another country, you are at war because of that you were fired at, everything is clear. The orcs suspected that we were the ones who told the Armed forces of Ukraine where to aim, then they checked our phones. My phone was discharged, and my uncle’s phone was charged, in his one they found a contact named Lena Dron (Drone in English – translators note). It was a nickname, but my uncle had to explain.

    At this time, the second shelling began and all the Buryats, Dagestanis ran to the cellar. They turned us to face the wall so we would not remember anything. We heard them shouting that they would flee immediately after the shelling. When the last mortar shell was dropped, they ran out, got into the armored personnel carrier and drove away.

    “We recovered a little bit, got into the house and went to look at how they lived. There was a mess everywhere around, their dry ration boxes were torn, and as a toilet, they used any place they saw. Weapons, helmets, bulletproof vests, shovels, canisters – they abandoned everything and fled”.

    We hid helmets and bulletproof vests but did not touch weapons: we were scared they could have mined them. However, their commander came back to us soon, he reeked of alcohol.

    He asked us: “What the hell are you doing here? Everyone left a long time ago. – Then he turned around and added: – if there is even one hit on this street – you both are going to be corpses.

    They survived under the sight of russians for about three weeks

    In the evening, a new shelling began. We started to worry they would come back because there was gunfire. Therefore, we ran to the nearest forest. While we were running, a mortar fire started. We fell to the ground, we were covered with sparks and earth, it’s good that no one was hurt by shrapnel, as the explosions were 300 meters away.

    With frequent stops, we ran closer to the river, and there we hid behind some pile of earth. We heard how “Grads” were working, how there was shelling, and how they were screaming. Someone must have been hurt because the cries were terrible. We had been sitting on the cold ground for about three hours in the frost, so we decided to come back, no matter what. Orcs were nowhere to find, so we went to the cellar and warmed up. The next morning was more or less quiet.

    After what happened, we lived in such conditions for about three weeks. The russians still came to us, checked our phones and tried to find out if we had any weapons. However, my phone was discharged a long time ago. Later I found out that at that time I was reported as missing. They (russian invaders – translators note) asked if we had receivers or radio, they were afraid we could somehow find out true information.

    People from our village stole batteries from theirs armored personnel carriers, URALs, and KAMAZes. We quietly hid those in another place because they almost found  out where they were hidden.

    Location of russian equipment in the village of Husarivka

    Location of russian equipment in the village of Husarivka

    We had food. As soon as the war started, the local poultry factory stopped exporting chickens and gave them away to the villagers. They also slaughtered chickens and cows, divided everything into halves, and gave it away to the villagers and russians. They didn’t give away sugar and flour, so rashists burned the warehouses and mined the farm. They moved to another house and lived in it. There was a tractor, so they drew a target on it and started shooting at it. The trajectory passed exactly through our yard. I don’t know if it was some kind of a joke or practicing skills.

    We looked after other people’s houses too, because the russian soldiers broke down the front doors, but we closed and bolted them back so that nothing could be stolen.

    We became eyewitnesses of crimes by rusnya (russians)

    My older brother wanted to take me to the west of Ukraine, at that time he was in a nearby village. He arrived at the checkpoint, but rusnya (sometimes russians are called like this – translators note) did not let him through, and they also took away my brother’s and his girlfriend’s phones. 

    Later, I watched as the russians stopped two cars, grabbed a woman and two men out of there, and took them away to a farm, and no one ever saw them again. In another case: they stopped a man driving a car and fired a series of shots at the vehicle, the man got out and raised his hands up, but he was taken away too. 

    Three burned bodies were found in the cellar of the house near the checkpoint where they (russians – translators note) lived. Later it was revealed that these were the bodies of a man, a woman and a child. They murdered a family with a child on their way out of the village just because they were driving. On March 8, when there was a battle, three of our soldiers and a nurse died.

    Bodies of Ukrainians burned by the occupiers were found in a cellar 

    In the village of Husarivka, bodies of Ukrainians burned by the occupiers were found in a cellar

    The rashists did not allow burying at the cemetery. The corpses remained on the ground. They killed fifteen civilians. Only these have been identified. Another eight have not been identified.

    Finally, he left for a safer place

    I left the village on April 9 with the man I worked for: I was carrying and grinding grain. Our village Husarivka was liberated from russians on March 27. At first, we arrived at Pervomaisk. There I finally got in touch with my parents, who were in the occupied city of Balakliya. My parents asked me to move to our mutual friends. They transferred the money for the trip to my employer, who gave me cash, and I drove to Kremenchuk by BlaBlaCar. Then on April 12, I came to Cherkasy. 

    I finished the eleventh class in Cherkasy. Now I’m planning to leave for Mukachevo. I will work there, my future employer will provide housing, and I will pass the national multi-subject test and enroll in a higher educational institution. I don’t know yet what kind of specialization I will choose.

    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: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Iryna Kovalenko

    Life under fire

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