A Daily Diary from Ukraine

Politics

News from Ukraine continues to be dismal. But book blogger, Clare from Word by Word wrote the other day about a daily diary she follows, written in Kyiv by Ukrainian author Yevgenia Belorusets. I too can recommend her very moving observations and pictures to you. Here’s an extract from yesterday’s entry:

In front of the ruins yesterday, among shattered glass, deformed scraps of metal, and pieces of the roof, I met a woman: an elderly lady who was looking for cigarettes. The kiosk where she bought them every day was so badly damaged that there were no windows or even doors anymore. The salesmen themselves were no longer around; the cigarettes lay unprotected in the shop window. The lady was asking everyone where to get a pack nearby. I suggested she leave the money in the shop window and take the pack, as a kind of self-service. Then I asked her why she decided to stay in Kyiv during these uncertain times.

She told me that her mother, who turned 100 three months ago, died this past week. In the war’s early days, it was unimaginable that she and her husband would leave the city. Now she was simply here. Maybe she would stay. Her eyes were shining; she even looked a little happy.

She was a mathematician, a scientist who came to Kyiv from Murmansk as a child. With many quips, she told me the tangled story of her family, saved time and again from war, hunger, and Stalin’s repressions. She spoke melodically and with a delicate touch, as if the words of the narrative had bound themselves together beforehand, only wanting for a listener. Despite her age, there was something young about her face, and she moved quickly and gracefully among stones and splinters. Our conversation didn’t last long, but I keep thinking back to it. Sometimes in war you have the feeling that you don’t want to lose other people, even after fleeting encounters. And now that I’ve described that meeting, I feel I did something to hold onto it. 

The air-raid alarm doesn’t sound for the moment. We are safe. During the curfew, authorities recommend darkening the windows and turning on the lights as sparingly as possible. The streets are absolutely empty, and the houses look abandoned. It is a relief to think that at least these houses are not in danger right now as they try with all their might to mask the lives of their inhabitants, to make them invisible.

You can find her posts, and sign up for daily updates here.

Kyiv in happier times: Nana Lapushkina, Pexels

47 thoughts on “A Daily Diary from Ukraine

  1. It’s an ongoing nightmare, isn’t it? I’ve been trying to follow news threads, searching for truth or answers. There don’t seem to be many when you look at the chequered history of these people, Margaret. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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      1. There has to be! After a lovely lunch with friends I came home to find that another of my Polish family had died. Spent some time reminiscing. So lucky we got together when we did. 🤗💟

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  2. Reading this account feels like we have slipped back in time to the terror and fear of the 20th century that someone of 100 has already lived through once. It is all utterly heartbreaking.

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    1. I nosied around a bit too, though have yet to hear her interviews. I note she didn’t post yesterday, so I hope all is well – or as well as it can be, in the circumstances.

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  3. Thanks Margaret for bringing this to our attention, off to read more of her fine writing. So wish the West had woken up to Putin before now. The damage he has inflicted in so many other places which the West ignored and consequently gave him the confidence to do what he is currently doing 😦

    Really wonder where the world is headed at the moment given what is happening also in Central African Republic, Cameroon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and then there’s microplastics, climate change, Covid, corrupt government in UK and the list does on . . where does it all stop?

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    1. I know. It’s beyond worrying. And while it’s absolutely right that so much concern should be focused on Ukraine, we shouldn’t be forgetting those people sharing very similar problems from Syria, Afghanistan etc.

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      1. No, none of it does. Eye witness stories are invaluable. I wrote to my MP to say we should fund citizen journalism, provide basic equipment and do all we can to help make sure the evidence of ordinary people is preserved.

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      2. I had a standard response to assure me of how well the government was doing. I started to reply to explain how little superlatives served their cause but deleted that and re-wrote to ask them to address the issues I had raised. No response since. I believe sanctions should be coordinated, announced daily at midnight, and linked to each day’s breach of the no-fly zone declared by Ukraine, ie enforcing the zone through sanctions rather than combat. I am not saying this would win the war, but I can’t imagine a downside that couldn’t be addressed, and there would be various upsides.

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      3. This is a really thoughtful response to the crisis. If your MP is who I think he is, he’s not known for putting his head above the parapet, as mine wasn’t until recently. So good luck with engaging his attention.

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    1. Oh! No, I have daily posts from her, though later than she advertises that they come through. Only one day was missing – I think last week. I wonder how they are translated into English? I note it’s available in about half a dozen languages. I am in awe of the resilience of the people she talks about. Let me know if you don’t get today’s (Thursday), which is a case in point.

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      1. Thanks I checked and was relieved to see the posts are available. Not sure why I didn’t see the recent ones before. She writes with amazing clarity and directness.

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