At first, we got lost. Who knew that there were two villages called Peremoha in the Brovary district. After we had travelled along a creepy road, where it seemed that behind every bush there could be another “Buryat” [A nationality in the Russian Federation taking part in the Russian army — Ed.], the locals showed us the right way. And at the next checkpoint, we were told that we were going to the right place, but at our own risk. And all we wanted was to film another burnt equipment of the occupiers. They said that the military will tell us at the last checkpoint before Peremoha, in Rusaniv, whether we can get there. And as always, they wished us good luck.
The way to Rusaniv is difficult to call an easy trip. There were very few oncoming cars, and the road itself before the war was probably not the best. Around it, there were only the fields, open and empty. Traces of the equipment movement, probably ours, are visible in some places in the fields. Through the open window of the car (how much you and I have gone through, my dear, and we will go through even more) — dead silence. Just like in the village of Rusaniv, which we entered. We reach that exact checkpoint where our army is. They said to us, “Your tanks are burning right over there, you see. Only there are “Buryats” running through the woods. If you have official permission, we will guide you, and in case something happens — we’ll avenge you”. They allow us to film a burnt Russian tank from a distance. The “optics” fortunately finishes it.
We ask the soldiers to tell us what happened here. In general, even without their stories, it is noticeable that the village suffered greatly from the occupants: a few days ago it was shelled by tanks and Grads [Soviet multiple launch rocket system — Ed.]. Some owners will never return to their houses because there is nowhere to come back.
The defenders are a little suspicious at first, but then they are happy to show us the village. They say that local “grandfathers” were ready to dig anti-tank ditches.
Near one of the houses, there is a shell-hole after a Grad. The projectile itself is lying nearby. We look into the yard and see an old man pottering about, leaning on a stick. Oleksandr Vasyliovych stayed in Rusaniv to help the military, despite having no light in his house. He and his wife cook food on the stove. Also, they fixed the windows without the glass with improvised means. While he was repairing one of them, he fell and broke his collarbone, but he says he will fix it. I go to the car and shake out the first aid kit, find roller bandages and a band. I give it to him to somehow fix the fracture.
He takes off his hat when I take a picture of him. He says that maybe his son will see him, who is now safe with a little daughter. His phone is dead, so we try to charge it, but it doesn’t work.
While we’re filming, Sashko offers to help fill the glass with plastic wrap. Assistants come to the house and say, “We will manage, you do your job, we’ll do ours.” While we’re shooting, they’re fixing the window.
We go to the house that was smashed by a Grad. There’s something burnt down in the yard. Sashko asks, “What is it?” I look and realize that I’m going to cry. A broken doghouse and a burnt dog’s skull.
In the next yard — well, on the ruins of the house — a shell-shocked cat walking around and crying. I go back and take some cat food. While I was feeding one, another one came. He only cries, sniffs food and rubs against my hands. It hurts.
We go back and meet another local, an Azerbaijani, Nazim. He is 74 years old, but the local supply chain is functioning thanks to him. He takes prepared food to the military, but also, together with a fellow villager Faig, takes bread and other things to a neighbouring village, practically across the “frontline”. Nazim is only wearing a helmet, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. He is an Azerbaijani by birth, but a Ukrainian by heart, and he will stand up for our land to the end so that his children and grandchildren will have a future.
As we leave, he offers us soup that just smells delicious. He waves his hand and goes back to his job, to the front line.
When we were in Rusaniv, there was a constant fire. The soldiers were calming us down that it was ours. On the way back, we saw smoke nearby — apparently, the shilling hit something. I hope our people hit the occupants.
A small digression — back in the day, during lectures on journalism, we discussed that a journalist should be impartial. But when you see all this, it is impossible to remain impartial. You just want to stay human when there are inhumane creatures on the other side.
March 8 at 7:44 p.m.
Read original text here Ukrainian Text by Liubomyra Remazhevska. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Apr 1, 2022