Chernihiv is a hero city of Ukraine

I chose photos for this post last year, it had a different title and text. I was going to share only my warm memories of my hometown Chernihiv and show our cozy and picturesque city.

However, I have one more story to tell.

Perhaps, all of us dream of waking up again on February 24 and realizing it was just a terrible nightmare, that there was no such horror and immeasurable tragedy that the Russians are doing with their own hands.

And now, as I do every summer, I would pack suitcases for a trip to my beloved peaceful Chernihiv, I would prepare gifts and choose dresses for long-awaited meetings.

I would wait for the most important events, first of all, to gather with my loved ones, to talk with mom in her garden and with granny in the kitchen, to hug my friends and to spend time with them, to walk to my favorite places, to visit the coziest cafes, and to show something from my childhood to my daughter once again, now she is very interested in it.

But, unfortunately, this is not a dream. Although it is so difficult to grasp.

On February 24, 2022, I woke up to the words “It has begun”, they will always keep ringing in my head. Our relatives in Chernihiv and millions of people all over Ukraine, though, woke up to the explosions of Russian missiles.

That morning changed the life of every Ukrainian forever.

I would like to dedicate this post to my hometown Chernihiv, a cozy and ancient hero city on the river Desna, which began the foundation of Kievan Rus about 14 centuries ago along with Kyiv.

But our city is unlucky with its neighbors.

Chernihiv region has a common border with Russia and Belarus.

There is a stele “Three Sisters” at the crossroads of the three countries in the village Sen’kivka (Ukraine), which symbolized the friendship of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Festivals of the friendship of three peoples were arranged there every summer in our youth. The Russian military invasion to the Chernihiv region took place from this point on February 24. And rockets insidiously flew to Chernihiv from the territories of these two countries. Such is the “friendship”…

Some of our loved ones left the city, but some of them, including my grandmother, stayed. She was born in Chernihiv in 1940 and still remembers World War II and life in postwar Chernihiv.

Do you remember how we told our grandparents (I’m sure almost everyone did this): “Well, a war and starvation in the 21st century? No way, impossible. Humanity has already realized everything, “never again”, look how beautiful and modern our world is”.

Little did we know then.

We just naively believed that the basic truths are obvious to everyone in the civilized world. War is bad, capturing what doesn’t belong to you is bad, and any violence is bad. Bad and completely unacceptable.

But it turns out that Russia has cultivated completely different values ​​in its citizens. If the word “values” is appropriate here at all.

Now our grandparents are going through the full-scale annexation war for the second time.

So what can we do to ensure that our children and next generations really never know the war in this seemingly developed and modern world again?

I know about the war and life in Chernihiv under blockade not only from the news, and definitely not from TV, but from our relatives.

On February 27, we saw the shocking consequences of a powerful rocket hitting our family members’ yard in the center of the city via live video. They were lucky and got only one window and balcony destroyed, unlike their neighbors and surrounding houses. But they were also left without water, heating and electricity, like the whole city.

The Russian army shot civilians who were trying to get water, food, and medicine, those who wanted to leave the city, to deliver essentials, to restore at least some electricity and water supply. This is a terrible truth. The horrors and crimes committed by Russian soldiers in the occupied suburbs of Chernihiv and region are also truth, unfortunately.

Chernihiv suffered huge losses, but survived thanks to the heroism and unity of its incredible people and defenders. Chernihiv was awarded the honorary award “The Hero City of Ukraine”.

In 37 days of incessant shelling and blockade, the Russian army destroyed and damaged about 70% of the city, including residential buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, holy places, cultural heritage, city infrastructure, and bridges, that are needed for evacuating and supplying the city. Hundreds of civilians (many children are among them) were killed and injured. Many victims need long and expensive treatment. A lot of families lost their homes and everything they had.

I took this photo from my balcony in 2012. Do you see Hotel Ukraine?
This is how it looks now after the Russian bombing. Frame from a video by Sergey Lomosa, March 2022.

Currently, the city and region need help to restore and strengthen.

Chernihiv is still threatened by a new invasion by the Russian army. Shelling of the region is continuing up to now, even after liberation from the Russian occupiers.

Some ways to help CHERNIHIV are below:

How you can help UKRAINE:

Thanks to destiny, I don’t have my own photos of destroyed Chernihiv.

My colleagues kindly shared with me their photos: Max Chub, Andrii Oleksiienko, Kostiantyn & Vlada Liberovy, Sergey Lomosa.

This war is boundless common pain for all Ukrainians and personal pain and tragedy for each and every individual.

And let’s call things by their proper names everywhere, even if they seem obvious to everybody. This is also a way to help Ukraine. Because Russian propaganda knows no limits, no conscience. Russian lie is poisoning the world.

  • It’s a war, it’s genocide. Russia is an aggressor and a terrorist.
  • Only Russia is guilty of the war and the food crisis in the world.
  • This is neither a civil war nor a conflict or crisis in Ukraine. This is a brutal and baseless attack by Russia, as it was 8 years ago also.
  • Ukrainians and Russians are not brotherly peoples and they never were, this is just Russian propaganda. We have different languages and cultures, which have been terribly oppressed by Russia for centuries and now in the occupied by them territories.
  • The vast majority of Russians support the war, aggression against Ukrainians in one way or another, or at least tolerate it. To make sure it is enough to accidentally hear real conversations of Russians abroad. If there are exceptions, their percentage is meager, unfortunately.

Ukraine is on its own territory. Ukraine defends universal values ​​and not only its own freedom, but also the freedom of the whole Europe (all of us heard threats from the Russian government). But what is Russia fighting for?

The truth and support of the whole civilized world stand with Ukraine.

Ukraine will definitely win🇺🇦 But, unfortunately, time and victory are measured by the lives of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Heroes, so Ukraine needs even more help and stopping of sponsoring Russia at all levels and in all ways.

Most of these photographs of Chernihiv were taken by me between 2007 and 2013, and mobile photos from 2016 to 2021.

Photos of the destroyed city were taken by photographers (Max Chub, Andrii Oleksiienko, Kostiantyn & Vlada Liberovy, Sergey Lomosa) in Chernihiv in the spring of 2022.

Probably, this is my longest post, but I really wanted to say even more💙💛

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