Ukraine: “Slava Ukraini”, the journey from Kiev to Borodyanka

From Kiev to Borodyanka, passing through ale cities martyrs of the conflict in Ukraine. While fighting furiously in the Donbass, in Kiev and in the neighboring towns, which were the subject of attacks in the first weeks after the Russian invasion, they are trying to find some “normality”

Ukraine: “Slava Ukraini”, the journey from Kiev to Borodyanka
(Photo SIR)

“Slava Ukraini”, Glory to Ukraine: From the lowered window, the driver greets the fully armed soldier at the checkpoint. “Heroiam Slave!”, Honor to the Heroes, his reply. A quick but thorough document check and move on. On the stretch of road that separates the capital Kiev from the neighboring centers Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, all within a radius of a few tens of kilometers, large concrete blocks, Friesland horses and sandbags placed on the asphalt force cars to slow down and make long gym breaks , under the watchful eye of the military. In the surrounding forests you can see the remains of the trenches dug by the Ukrainian troops to meet the Russian land advance that stopped right in this area. What was to prove to be a triumphal march against Kiev for the Russian army proved to be a sad retreat.

Along the way, big posters cheer to the courage and bravery of the Ukrainian military. One of these, almost completely destroyed by bad weather, shows the number ‘450’, which in Ukrainian military jargon means “I’m fine”. An encrypted language used by the military to communicate with families securely and quickly from the front. Another invites “to sign up because the future of Ukraine is in your hands”. Patriotic slogans – “courage is a Ukrainian brand” – also stand out in the shop windows of the capital’s main streets, which try, albeit slowly, to return to a bit of normality. The chaotic pre-war traffic is just a memory, it is estimated that at least 400,000 inhabitants left Kiev because of the war. Independence Square, better known as Majdan Square, is deserted and manned by soldiers. Metro stations are almost empty. The rush to the dungeons during the airstrikes seems to be just a memory. On the side of the square there is a surface of red tulips commemorating the Ukrainian and foreign victims of the conflict. Here, anyone who knows someone who has fallen for the Ukrainian cause can take a yellow and blue flag, write his name on it and stick it on the meadow in memory. In the cities there is a curfew, from 11 pm to 5 am, in Kiev it starts at 9 pm This weekend – thanks to May 9, the day Russia celebrates the victory over the Nazis in World War II – is the Ukrainian. authorities will extend the duration of the curfew. In the Kiev region there will be two days of total curfew, May 8 and 9. The danger of a Russian air strike is very high, according to authorities in the Kiev region. So we run in coverage. Even today, in a message spread through the Telegram, President Zelenskiy urges all citizens not to ignore the air raids, respect the curfew and avoid entering the forest already occupied by the Russians, so as not to fall into mining areas.

Also the centers Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka, originally occupied by the Russians, who before retreating carried out massacres, looting and destruction, trying to leave again. The mass grave, where over 100 bodies of civilians were found, murdered by the Russians, located in a field behind the Orthodox Church in p. Andrea has today become a place of worship where people come to lay flowers. Bodies in the streets, shown on TVs around the world, were collected and buried, and the remains of the gun-filled cars were also removed. But the memory of those days shows no sign of fading. They are trying to dispel the fear of war by repairing the houses and removing the rubble. Some flower beds also appear. There are many traffic jams at dealers. Petrol is rationed, not more than 10 liters per. person. But here the opinions are different: there are those who believe that the rationing is due to the conflict, and those instead of the speculations from the oil companies who are waiting for the next green light from the government for a price increase on fuels.

At the entrance to nearby Irpin a kind of war cemetery was created, where the carcasses of the Russian tanks destroyed by the Ukrainians were deposited. Locals come to take pieces to reuse or reuse to rebuild their homes. Perhaps this is also a way of recovering what the Russians had stolen from them, home and property. On some of these tanks, all of which burned, we read insults against the Russian army and Putin. The word “mine” stands out in a white van. Many are the ones the Russians have left in the woods and on the streets. A few hundred meters further on, here are the remains of a shopping mall hit by Putin’s missiles. We’re trying to count the damage, huge. From a light pole in front of the rubble, there are brand new electrical wires. The first step, explain two workers there at work, will be to reconnect the electricity. We also work at the local hospital, where doctors have drawn red crosses on the outer walls to avoid being hit by missiles.

Same fate in Borodyanka, one of the centers hardest hit by Russian aviation on March 1 and 2. In those days, the Russian military did not allow city firefighters to bring aid to those who had been left behind by the bombs. Some of these corpses were not mined until mid-April. The entrance to the city is a huge row of bombed buildings, completely cleaned. On the walls of the houses and buildings, the Russian army has drawn the “V”, an identification letter referring to the auxiliary troops, probably Chechen battalions. Among the rubble are still remnants of shortened lives, soft toys, hanging clothes, furniture. On a bench, not far from one of these buildings, whose architecture is reminiscent of that of the former Soviet Union, an engaged couple spends time talking on the phone with friends. Here, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived on 28 April. In front of these 10-story buildings, he spoke of “unacceptable destruction in the 21st century”. But even earlier, Good Friday (April 15), short. Konrad Krajewski, papal almsman, with the Apostolic Nuncio to Kiev, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas. Together they prayed in front of a grave with at least 80 people, buried without name and surname.

Strong were the emotions of the nuncio, which was reported to the SIR during a meeting in the capital with Aid to the Church in pain, in front of “bodies of boys and girls who were tortured and tortured with bottles, extracted under the rubble”. When he left Borodyanka, the nuncio brought an intact copy of the New Testament found by firefighters in a house on the eighth floor of a burning building and a Bible found during the collapses. Two relics, two symbols of hope for the future. Like a Borodyanka mother and daughter coming home by hand. Waiting for the danger that fights at the front. “Slava Ukraini”.

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