Chernigov residents try to rebuild destroyed city: “The main thing is that the Russians do not return”

The ruins are still piled up at the entrance to the building, leaving a nine-story block with a crumbling façade that reveals the interior of the empty floors. “There was a family of four, the mother and daughter died, the second daughter is still in the hospital seriously and the father survived,” said Sergei Lazlo, pointing to the remains of one of the houses. A few meters later, a huge hole points to the spot where one of the bombs dropped by Russian planes fell on March 3 in broad daylight, at the intersection of Chornovola and Krukhova streets, in Chernigov’s central residential area. Fifty-seven people have been killed in one of the war crimes committed by Moscow forces 50 kilometers from the Belarusian border. Russian tanks arrived in the provincial capital in the first days of the attack, and although they did not take it, they launched a siege that lasted a month, with constant bombardment that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and raised fears of a second Mariupol.

“Many of the dead were known. “People are falling apart,” Lazlo said, smoking a cigarette nervously. Behind him, a piano lies on the ground in the middle of a red brick, remnants of the pharmacy walls. He says that when the bombs fell, the neighbors were standing in line at the door of the facility, where entry was possible in threes. There was a fear of drug shortages. Across the street is a hospital, also damaged, and another huge building, where a rocket hit the upper floors, coming out on the other side with a clean shot.

Laszlo’s mother, Tatiana, who is 68 years old, lives in a building a few meters from this place. Neighbors cleaned the gardens between one and the other building, but a few days ago they were full of rubble, furniture remnants, broken glass. Flowers were again planted in small sealed plots next to the portals, another symbol of the resistance of the population sown as a result of the Russian invasion. Almost a month after the siege ended, there is still no water in this part of the city and electricity has only recently been restored. In the yards, homemade booths act as toilets for hundreds of residents on each block.

During the hardest weeks, Lazlo left the family at home, a few miles from here, and was with his mother, for whom he had prepared a small pantry they have in the basement of the building. Dozens of people took refuge there without water, electricity or heating when outside temperatures approached two digits below zero. In some areas of narrow basement corridors, the smell of urine on bare walls interferes with the damp odor. Most of the smaller buildings are uncomfortable and empty spaces, but Laszlo tried to turn it into his mother’s living quarters. A meter-and-a-half bed with a mattress, a pallet, and tires; On a small shelf placed pots, medicine, blankets and a match. Tatiana spent 35 days here.

“Today we came to take photos to send to Grandpa,” said Olga, Lazlo’s wife, as she hugged their two sons, 14-year-old Yaroslav and seven-year-old Mikhail. Olga’s father left for Russia as a child. “We do not believe him when we tell him what happened, he repeats that all the fascists are here,” he said angrily. The children listen in silence. For two days they have resumed distance lessons, but their school, where they live, is now a mass of ruins. It was hit by a bombing along with another institute, killing about 40 people.

“We will build a house, it is worse if the Russians return”

Chernigov’s open wounds are even more evident on Shevchenka Street, which runs through the Borovitsa district, where Russian attacks have been raging for days. Although the military barracks next to their one-story house were bombed on March 4, as well as a police station on the opposite side, Valery Tosenko and his wife decided to return to a nearby town after spending a few days. Together with his sister and brother, they each built a house attached to the first family home where Tosenko was born and where his mother continued to live. “On the night of March 13-14, my wife and I were standing on the couch and it was very cold outside. Suddenly there was a big accident and everything started falling. Only the wall behind the sofa remained. “We came out miraculously alive. I still do not know how we survived,” said the man, pointing to what was left of the houses that had been destroyed by fire after the bombing.


Tosenko is thin and emaciated, but his figure is a dwarf as he approaches the edge of the abyss left by the bomb, at a depth of at least three meters. He and his sister came in today to pick up some old bicycles from the garage they had rented across the street left in other dilapidated houses. To pick him up he came in a small trailer and the car he managed to save from the fire was shot until the gate of his garden broke. “The house is important, but the most important thing is that the Russians do not come back, because we can build a house,” Tosenko said, as someone tried to reassure himself.

Within a few hundred meters are dozens of houses, one-story houses with small gardens and Tosenko-like gardens, leveled to the ground. Complete destruction of tens of meters. Dimitro Mavsloska, a man with a long red beard and a gray sports suit, pushes a cart full of water drums, walks down a small street, and heads for his house, which is still standing, one of the exceptions you see around the corner. Neighborhood. He and his wife share water with several neighbors who are still there. Those who could leave while the attack was advancing. Less than half of the 280,000 pre-war population remained in the city.


“There is neither water nor gas in this area and electricity will be gradually restored. He has not come here yet. “The water should be warmed by the sun,” said Mavloska. “Planes were coming and going and bombs were falling everywhere. “One day we found two of our horses beheaded,” said his wife, explaining that they had been living in the basement all along. “The Russians say that military structures were bombed, but these are houses. Then they even beat the cemeteries! Why were the cemeteries bombed? ”Mavloska added with an outraged gesture.

Burst tombs and mined gardens

The Russians occupied Yatsevo Cemetery, the main one in Chernigov. At the entrance, in the late April afternoon, some workers work to rebuild the walls of the ruined chapel and the dome. On the avenue that runs through the buildings, women remove blackened paint from offices. A few small red signs warn that there is a danger of mines. You could not walk around the tombs and several tombstones were smashed, also in the part of the cemetery dedicated to the soldiers who died in the Donbas war. According to Orthodox tradition, the following days of Easter are dedicated to visiting the family tombs, where flowers and food are brought. But this afternoon, in late April, small tables next to tombstones are abandoned. “We were afraid of the mines, yes, but we were more afraid when we were in the basements and the bombs fell,” said one of the cemetery staff.


The graves of Natalia Solomennik’s husband and daughter were demolished. She works as a caretaker at Chernigov Hospital, on Shevchenka Street near the barracks that were demolished in early March. He was coming and going every day from Novoselivka, a small town on the outskirts of the city that had been hit hard by the bombing. A huge hole opens at the entrance to one of its main streets, but a few meters away there are a few more. The relief is macabre gruyere. Among the grasses are remnants of previous lives. A blue stuffed elephant, a white pillow … A little further on, women are looking at worn-out clothing bags, for those who are left here with nothing. Others attended the bread distribution.

Rows for food

Getting food was one of the nightmares of the city siege. Many residents, especially the elderly, survived thanks to the help of volunteers who risked their lives as a result of the bombing to help those who could not find another way to survive. Most of the shops are still closed and dozens of people are queuing at Rokosovsky 18 on the first day of the distribution of food bags organized by the local government. It is 10:30 in the morning and the distribution will end in the first hour of the afternoon, but as time goes on the number of people in the queue only increases from tens to one hundred at sunset. Reflected in the golden domes of a neighboring church. .


Valentina Nartinovich lives alone on the third floor of the 14th building opposite. He has problems with osteoarthritis and during the siege, without electricity, the elevator did not work. “He went out in search of water because he was not there. “I could not eat, there was no hot water, and so on for 40 days, where I only hoped for help from a volunteer,” he said, his eyes filled with tears. After waiting he leaves the room with his bag of food: a bottle of sunflower oil, a pack of pasta, flour and oatmeal, three pots of stewed meat, coffee, condensed milk, slices of dry bread. The same thing that his neighbor Tamara Goncharenko will take. “It is good that they did not enter the city because it would be a disaster,” said the retired teacher, who has taught Russian for 20 years. “Why are they doing this to us? Why did they let us do this, if this is the city where most Russian is spoken? I did not expect this from Russia. “Putin is sick.”


Source: El Diario

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