АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Mariia Moskaliuk
4 July 2022
Vitalii, originally from Kyiv, fell into the occupation after a full-scale invasion. He and his family survived in the occupied village of Bobryk, near Brovary. Vitalii’s sports past helped them have a supply of food.
I was born and grew up in the capital of Ukraine, majestic Kyiv. I work in the field of information protection. My weekdays passed productively. Also, in the pre-war period, I was actively involved in sports. In the autumn of 2020, I started swimming with the HappyTRI Friends triathlon club. At first, it was just the pool, but already in February 2021, I started running, and later also training on a bicycle. Starting from May of the same year, I participated in triathlon tournaments. These were all-Ukrainian competitions at different distances: sprint and Olympic. I even got into the official ranking of triathletes in Ukraine, although I was near the end of the list.
At the end of the summer of 2021, I added trail running training and later took part in the official starts of the Ukrainian Trail League.
The amount and intensity of training varied during the season, but for the sake of understanding, it is from 15 to 20 hours of training per week.
“The war for me began on February 24 at 06:23, when an explosion rang out from the arrival of a rocket not far from my house in the suburbs of Kyiv. Following us, our military planes began to fly above us”.
On February 24, I woke up at 06:23 to a loud noise. At that moment I did not realize what exactly had happened. But when I opened the Telegram, I realized that the war had begun. Yes, yes, the war had been going on for 8 years, but for me, at that moment it really began. Even later, I realized that the explosion was probably the result of a rocket hitting a nearby military unit (it seems that it did not hit).
I don’t remember the next 8-10 minutes, maybe it was the first and only panic attack in my life, but nevertheless, I called my family and my ex-girlfriend. I made sure that everything was intact and asked them to start packing things.
That day, I was at home until 5-6 p.m., rockets, and military planes were flying over the house, and isolated distant explosions were heard.
On February 25, I took my grandmother, my ex-girlfriend and her mother and took them to the village of Bobryk, which is not far from Brovary. My mother and stepfather live there, they have a snail farm.
At one point there were 11 people, 5 dogs and 5 cats in two rooms. With so many people, I went to the grocery stores, trying to stock up just in case, and also bought fuel.
The village kept cheerful and even organized a daily TRO. But a few days before the occupation, our military came to the village and advised them not to go to the checkpoints, because it will not help against heavy equipment. I was not in the TRO, but we provided our territory to organize an observation point, and also organized places for throwing Molotov cocktails, although no one ever used them.
On March 8, around 4:30 p.m., an enemy armored personnel carrier and fifteen scouts arrived in the village. They got up in the center of the village and stayed there until the morning of the next day.
On March 9, the main forces of the enemy entered the village. Two convoys of equipment with a total number of up to 150 units passed by. They were people who tried to storm Brovary.
Thus, from the 8th, we stopped going beyond the territory of the farm, like almost all the inhabitants of the village.
The first contact with the invaders took place on the morning of March 9, when 15-17 armed orcs entered the territory of the farm. They checked my and my stepfather’s documents, and took away our phones (although we didn’t hand in all the ones we had).
After that, two guns and two trucks entered the territory. They turned on us on the field. From that moment on, 16 orcs were constantly on the territory, and only four days later they left our farm.
On the farm, the main source on which our entire life depended is electricity. It disappeared on March 10. At the same time, we lost water; because there is no well there, only pumps, we could not cook on the stove, or heat the house.
From that moment, we started cooking on a fire in order to save money (and we could not know how long the occupation would last), and switched to two meals a day. We divided the products according to the expiration date, taking into account the unlocked refrigerators. The basis of our diet was all kinds of cereals with the addition of meat first, and then canned food.
We had food because I didn’t sit still, I was constantly going somewhere: sometimes for fuel in canisters, sometimes for groceries. In general, I bought another 25.02 of the main stock on the way to Bobryk, and then bought more 2 or 3 times, which turned out to be not superfluous.
The real saving on products began on March 10, when the electricity went out. This is the second day of the occupation. In order to get water, we turned on the generator for a short time, but so that it would not be heard too much, we waited for the start of artillery fire.
In general, we found our way quickly enough and adjusted the cooking process.
From time to time I tried to make the girls happy somehow by treating them to something sweet or a glass of wine.
That’s how we lived until March 20, when the green corridor suddenly opened, and I was able to leave with all those whom I had brought there.
Probably, I would call several moments the most terrible:
– The first shelling of the territory of our farm
– Fear for the safety of my ex-girlfriend, we didn’t know about mass rapes back then, but I assumed the worst-case scenario
In general, it was most difficult to keep calm during the shelling, because the women were very afraid (trembling, crying). In order to calm them down, I had to be calm, although I could not change anything.
On the fourth day, when there were two enemy guns near our house, maybe the #Stop_war_bot in Telegram worked, through which I sent the coordinates of the occupiers, or maybe there was aerial reconnaissance.
Because we must give credit to our gunners: three out of four shells hit precisely those places where the enemy’s equipment was standing. The nearest one of them flew about 50-70 meters from the house. The only problem is that by this time the enemy had already picked the guns in a ready state and hid them near the wall of the house, so the shelling was wasted.
Although this was the first shelling close to us, we survived steadfastly, the girls hardly even cried. Where we were, there was no basement or other underground shelter, so we hid according to the “two walls” principle, or simply chose a “safe” place at random.
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: Mariia Moskaliuk