Chernihiv, the city that resisted the Russians

Two weeks have passed since Russian troops abandoned their positions around the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. However, Elena Pazniak continues to sleep dressed to be ready at any moment to join an underground bunker. At the entrance to her building, she chats with Galyna Tchijenok, a retired neighbor who has spent her nights on a cot in a hallway of the building. The right lens of Galyna Tchijenok’s glasses is broken. She would like to change it, but the shops are closed.

Residents wait outside a food aid distribution point in Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 12, 2022.

The two women survived more than a month without running water or electricity when Kremlin troops surrounded and shelled the city from February 24 to 1ah April hoping to catch it. In the same courtyard of the building, Kristina Krijova tells that she spent several weeks in a village occupied by Russian troops, like a large part of the Chernihiv region. In Ripky, she spent her days in an animal shelter. Since her return, this young woman has joined the groups of volunteers who are distributing humanitarian aid to a distressed population. “I think there will be a second wave she said, concerned about the territory’s close proximity to the Russian and Belarusian borders. But our army will be ready to welcome them. »

Kristina Krijova, volunteer, at the foot of her building in Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 12, 2022.

The population awakens from their paralysis. The city, strategically located on the road to Kyiv, was protected by the Ukrainian army and members of the territorial defense. But Russian forces continuously shelled the outskirts and many buildings and apartment buildings in the city center. Today the authorities assess the damage, provide humanitarian aid and try to compensate for the lack of housing. Some residents mourn the missing. You get used to this distorted environment.

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On the outskirts of the city, not far from the airbase, remains of camps of Russian forces lined with trenches can be seen through the forest. On the ground military rations, tin cans and piles of clothes.

On the advance towards the city center, in front of the places affected by air raids, the mountains of rubbish from the explosions are already piling up. Long queues of men and women are waiting at various points in the center to receive humanitarian aid packages. Oleksandr Lomako, spokesman for Chernihiv City Hall, believes so so far “10%” Buildings were destroyed by Russian bombing and so many “more than 35%” are damaged.

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