First-hand accounts, Russian Aggression

Article by: Nadiya Sukhorukova
Translated by: Laura Olla AZ Palmer

Editor’s Note

This short piece is written by Nadiia Sukhorukova, a journalist living in Mariupol, who believes that she is living her last days under Russia’s constant massive attacks on her besieged city. The Russian bombs and shells have damaged most of the buildings in the city, which was home to some 430,000 residents. The death toll among civilians is unknown because it is impossible to recover bodies from the rubble. The last time when the Mariupol City Council reported civilian casualties was a week ago,  back then the authorities mentioned that 2,187 Mariupol residents had died in Russian attacks.

Waiting for death

I go outside in between bombings. I need to walk my dog. It constantly whines, trembles, and hides behind my legs.

I want to sleep all the time. My yard, surrounded by high-rise buildings, is quiet and dead. I’m no longer afraid to look around.

Mariupol journalist Nadiia Sukhorukova. Source ~

Mariupol journalist Nadiia Sukhorukova. Source

Opposite, the entrance to the one hundred and fifth house, number 105 is burning down. The flames have devoured five floors and are slowly chewing on the sixth. In the room, the fire is burning gently, as in a fireplace. Black charred windows stand without glass. From them, like tongues, curtains gnawed by flames are falling out. I am looking at it calmly feeling doomed to die.

A fire caused by Russian shelling in an apartment building on Peremohy Avenue in Mariupol. Source. ~

A fire caused by Russian shelling in an apartment building on Peremohy Avenue in Mariupol. Source.

I’m sure I’ll die soon. It’s a matter of days.

In this city, everyone is constantly waiting for death. I just wish it wasn’t too scary. Three days ago, a friend of my older nephew came to us and said that there was a direct hit on the Fire station. The rescuers died. One woman had her arm, leg, and head torn off.

This is a frame from a graphic video filmed in Mariupol on 13 March. On 21 March, Mariupol-based pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko posted the video on Facebook with the following comment:“This video, [filmed] very close to our Church building turned into a bomb shelter, will be surely hidden by the gentle, vulnerable Facebook which protects the psyche of people. But in vain. This Russian Hell must be shown to the whole world. And the sky over Ukraine must be closed…” ~

This is a frame from a graphic video filmed in Mariupol on 13 March. On 21 March, Mariupol-based pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko posted the video on Facebook with the following comment:
“This video, [filmed] very close to our Church building turned into a bomb shelter, will be surely hidden by the gentle, vulnerable Facebook which protects the psyche of people. But in vain. This Russian Hell must be shown to the whole world. And the sky over Ukraine must be closed…”

I wish that my body parts remain in place, even after the explosion of an air bomb.

I don’t know why, but it seems important to me. Although, on the other hand, they will still not be buried during the bombing going on. This is how the police answered us when we caught them on the street and asked what to do with our friend’s dead grandmother. They advised us to put her on the balcony.

I wonder how many more balconies there are with dead bodies laid down?

Dead body lying in front of charred buildings on Pylypa Orlyka St in Mariupol. Source. ~

Dead body lying in front of charred buildings on Pylypa Orlyka St in Mariupol. Source.

Our house on Myru (Peace) Avenue is the only one that has escaped direct hits. It has nearly escaped twice when hit by shells, windows flew out in some apartments, but it was hardly damaged, compared to other houses, and it looks lucky.

The entire yard is covered in layers of ash, fragments of glass, plastic, and metal.

I am trying not to look at the huge iron structure that has landed on the children’s playground. I think it’s a rocket, or maybe a mine. I don’t care, it’s just annoying. In the window of the third floor, I see someone’s face and I flinch in fright. It turns out that I’m afraid of living people.

A street in Mariupol devastated by Russian shelling. Source ~

A street in Mariupol devastated by Russian shelling. Source

My dog starts howling and I understand that now they will shoot again.

I am standing in the daytime on the street, and there is complete cemetery-like silence around me. There are no cars, no voices, no children, no grandmothers on benches. Even the wind died.

However, there are still a few people here. They are lying near the side of the house and in the parking lot, covered with outerwear. I don’t want to look at them. I’m afraid I’ll see someone I know.

View of Morskyi Avenue in Mariupol. Source ~

View of Morskyi Avenue in Mariupol. Source

All life in my city has been smoldering in basements. It reminds me of a flickering candle in our basement compartment. It is so easy to put it out. Any vibration or a gentle breeze and darkness will come.

I am trying to cry, but I can’t. I feel sorry for myself, my family, my husband, my neighbors, my friends.

I go back to the basement and listen to the vile iron rattle there. Two weeks have passed, and I no longer believe that there was once another life here.
People seek refuge in the basement of a building in besieged Mariupol. Source ~

People seek refuge in the basement of a building in besieged Mariupol. Source

In Mariupol, people continue to sit in the basements. Every day it is getting harder for them to survive. They have no water, no food, no light, they cannot even go outside because of the constant shelling.

Charred apartment buildings on Metallurhiv Avenue, Mariupol. The photo was taken “around March 18.” Source. ~

Charred apartment buildings on Metallurhiv Avenue, Mariupol. The photo was taken “around March 18.” Source.

Mariupol residents must live. Help them. Tell everyone about it. Let everyone know that civilians continue to be killed.

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Translated by: Laura Olla AZ Palmer

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