Mariupol: Grey Zones

The evacuation was long and difficult. First, we passed four Russian checkpoints. At the last checkpoint, the Russian soldiers asked questions to provoke us. They studied our reactions, but we were silent and made no comments.

Then we drove into a gray zone: a lawless place that was not controlled by either Russian or Ukrainian forces. Here we could be killed by both sides. Finally, we drove out of this zone. We were now approaching the first Ukrainian checkpoint. Then my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t calm down. I just cried when I saw our Ukrainian soldiers.


Caption: The girl sings about the love of her native city while waiting to be evacuated. Photo: Viacheslav Tverdokhlib

Our neighbourhood was lucky because nobody was killed there. They tried to attack the centre of Mariupol, and we lived on the outskirts. Around 15th March, it was already quiet and calm. I decided to go closer to the city. On the way there, I met two women. They may have been young girls. They were black with soot and dust. It was hard to tell how old they were. They were bringing water from a spring. I ran up to them and asked:​

“How are things in the city?”

They gazed at me strangely… One of the women looked at me as if I were from another planet. Then she said:​

“What city? There is no city. There’s nowhere to go. Don’t go there.”


Caption: The Mariupol residents made an inscription: ”The Russian world was here”. The explosion was so powerful that the block was raised vertically. Photo: Viacheslav Tverdokhlib