“We are used to imagining Ukrainians as a people of caregivers and maids. To see instead the modernity and efficiency of cities like Kiev or Lviv allows us to understand how strong and proud these people are, able to to regenerate and get back on its feet despite the bombings and the destruction of the Russians. Mirco Paganelli, 35, a professional journalist from Rimini, The face of the Teleromagna TV station, it says outright. “We from the Ukrainians have only to learn.” Mirco left Rimini as a freelancer on May 26, took a flight to Poland and then reached the Ukrainian border. It is there, on the pitch, not of struggle, but of emotion, the one formed by the blade of grass of “real” people, who was able to form his conviction. “I went in search of stories, to tell the human side of the war, but I returned home with much more.”
Mirco, do you feel like a different person after this experience in Ukraine?
“It seems to me that I’ve been away for a year, when I look back on those days, actually a little over a week, I feel surrounded by a whirlwind of emotions. I came across so many stories that they jump on you. People really want to tell, even in spite of language difficulties. Some volunteers have actually chosen to dedicate themselves to accompanying journalists around the cities to help us see the reality of invaded Ukraine. They organize daily press conferences and it is easy to make appointments even with important personalities. This is very different from what is happening in Italy ».
What is one of the stories that has made the most impression on you?
“One of the most absurd I have heard is a family of restaurateurs who, after leaving Donbass in 2014 at the time of the first attacks, moved to Mariupol, which is the most bombed city of all, with 95% of the buildings multi plan destroyed, and now it has “revived” the business in Lviv.They live in a refugee camp, their house, near Azovstal steelworks, was burned down, their restaurant no longer exists.Nevertheless, they did not give up and started all over again.I met at least five stories of the day like these.To give another example of the Ukrainian resistance: A shop owner from Karkiv told me that the two hours after the bombing had already cleared the streets.Bucha and Irpin have also been put back on their feet and the cities are all walkable, even though some buildings are still destroyed.They wasted no time: They all got busy, some even quit their jobs, made their skills available for volunteer work with a surprising spirit of solidarity and democracy that we should only t age an example from. I think that’s the secret behind their opposition. ‘
What do they think of those who ran away?
“They feel no anger against them, the anger is exclusively against the Russians. But not only towards the government, also towards citizens who believe in propaganda. They told me about families that were parted because Russian relatives out of the blue started to regard Ukrainians as Nazis. This gives them a lot of pain ».
It seems that many are returning …
“It’s true I myself made the outward journey with two sisters who had been with their mother for three months in Rimini but were on their way back to their husbands in Ivano Frankvis to reunite the family. However, many people are still missing : Some schools are still closed because there are no staff ».
From the videos he posted on his channel “A Reporter in a Suitcase” it almost seems like there was no war or never was there. The bars and restaurants are open, people go for a walk. Is that really so?
“It’s an apparent normality, the fruit of the desire to start over. After the first month spent in the subways, between fear and depression, they decided to return to life. But there is still a constant thread of excitement: the air defense siren sounds “Almost every day even in Kiev, and at 11 pm there is a curfew. Children only play war. And the conflict continues in the east.”
Is there a place where he really saw the pain?
“Yep. In Bucha, on the outskirts of Kiev, where the Russians have massacred civilians. Only there did I meet people who would not talk about the occupation, who cried at the thought. An 86-year-old man lived in the basement with his disabled wife and saw for days his neighbor’s body on the street because the Russians did not allow the bodies to be taken away.An 84-year-old woman said the Russians had entered the house with their weapons against her because she was the mayor’s neighbor.They stole everything, themselves the toilets, and raped women.The soldiers are boys who come from the steppes and see shoe, food and clothing stores, and they lost their minds.For the most disturbing thing is that Bucha could really be Rimini: they went to pubs until the day before. And then came the Russians, who killed them if they tried to prevent them from rummaging around the house. That should make us reflect ».