Vika and Maksym, residents of the “Lviv Quarter”




On the morning of June 26, 2022, Russian missiles hit a multi-story building near the Lukianivska metro station. This is the second hit on the residential complex "Lviv Quarter." The first time happened on April 28. In both cases, people were killed and injured.


The "Lviv Quarter" residential complex is located on Hlybochytska Street in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv, Tatarka micro-district. These are seven multi-story buildings that were commissioned from 2018 to 2021.


We found a couple who were at the time of the airstrikes in their apartment in the "Lviv Quarter" residential complex. We are grateful to them for sharing their experience of the morning of June 26, their sense of personal safety, and their thoughts about Kyiv in general.



Vika: We bought this apartment in 2018, my husband and father-in-law did the repairs, and no one would have done it so well. We were supposed to move here on February 25 or 26, 2022, but they arrived in mid-April. I didn't fully believe that a full-scale invasion would happen, but I withdrew my funds and exchanged them for currency, Maxim was on a business trip, but he managed to return.


Maksym: We already had a contract with the carrier. And although there was a lot of unfinished business here, we simply could not be in a terrible rented apartment. We wanted to live with our beloved dog and not report to anyone, this is freedom. Many years ago, I left my parents' house and wandered around rented apartments.


I liked the factory buildings visually. We once even argued about which side our windows would better face: another apartment building or the factory. Our windows overlook the yard, but I dreamily look toward this factory. Some of its premises were probably rented out, which gave hope that there might be some kind of renovated art space here, like the Lviv Jam Factory, the Frankish Promprylad, or the Art-zavod Platforma on the Lisova metro.


Vika: We came here on February 24 because it is closer to the subway. We felt that it is safer here. My parents called and offered us to go to the country; we were there together until the middle of April. It was the Kyiv region, but it is safe there.


I am a Kyivan, cultural manager, and grant manager at the Goethe Institute. Maxim and I have been together for eight years. This is our first shared apartment. We lived in a rented house in the same area — on Lukianivka, and we liked it. I think it is cozy, Lviv Square is nearby, Podil is nearby — everything is close, but here it is a quieter, calmer place.


Maksym: I am from the city of Chervonohrad (Lviv region — ed.). I have lived in Kyiv for more than fifteen years. I have a "historical spiral": when I came to Kyiv, I found my first job on Melnikova Street (now Yuriy Illienka Street — ed.), near the triangular park (Kotliarevskyi Park — ed.). And it happened by chance that we settled close to these places.


I am a co-founder of the "Laboratory of Digital Security" NGO. We help Ukrainian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders to resist Russian cyberattacks.



The Attack Day

Maksym: It was a day off. We rarely have days off. I was still so angry with the occupiers I thought: "God, well, at least one night of sleep!". I planned to sleep until eleven o'clock in the afternoon. The first explosion was quite muffled, somewhere far away. I thought I screamed loudly, probably from adrenaline, and we ran to the bathroom.


Vika: It was morning, 6:23, as the cameras below showed. We say that the dog saved us. Instead, he mobilized us. He slept with us lately, snuggled in and usually snuggled up to me, but this time he crawled under Maksym's arm and snored. And Maxim woke me up to see how cute it is. At that moment, we heard the first explosion. We did not doubt that the next one would be in us because they had already hit the previous one. The balcony was open, and the frightened dog ran there. We started shouting: "Are you crazy!?". We grabbed each other and ran to the bathroom in a second.


When we rushed into the bathroom, there was a second explosion. We fell to the floor, still got the bruises, and covered the dog ourselves.

It was like a hundredfold thunder. And you could hear the windows flying open. I can't stand thunder very badly now, although I've never been afraid of it.

Maksym: I couldn't get rid of this sound on the first day. It feels like you've recorded it on something, and you're listening to it all the time: a whistle, unique and terrible, then a silence... a hit.

You are in a situation where you do not control anything and do not influence anything. You understand that all these walls are conventionality. We tried to run out into the building hall, I opened the door and saw that everything was in dust, the second entrance door had been knocked out, and bricks were on the floor. We went back to the bathroom. I ran to get some things, I wanted to protect my feet at least because there were sounds like broken glass falling. I ran out, heard this characteristic whistling, and returned to the bathroom. It was the third blow. It seems to me that the first blow was to the kindergarten, the second hit the house, and the last hit the factory.


Vika: My dog and I were in the bathroom. Maksym runs back, he doesn't have time to run, closes us, as if he wants to protect us, even though the door is made of glass, and falls near the old washing machine.


Maksym: I felt a shock wave on the back of my head, on my back, it knocked me off my feet. I'm generally surprised how the windows survived, the old washing machine turned around, it weighs 62 kilograms, I can't lift it myself. We decided to wait, I wrote to my colleagues about what was happening here so that they would be ready to react somehow in case of something.


Vika: Then we went down the stairs and saw that the elevator shafts were upside down.


Maksym: When we ran into the room to get the documents before the last blow, we saw from the window that the patrols had already arrived, there were paramilitary people. I was surprised that they came so quickly. We left the entrance, there was no transition to the parking lot due to construction, they helped us and other people to cross.


Vika: We stood there for a while and watched our house burn.


Maksym: Many people did not want to go anywhere, they stood and watched because, in the first minutes, it does not fit in your head: so much invested effort, and it will burn now. At least to see if it burned or not to know how to proceed.

Vika: We waited in the parking lot, after a few minutes, the rescuers came and told us to go to the other side because last time there was a gas explosion in the seventh building, the same thing could happen here. We were not in Kyiv during that attack, we only came from the country in the morning to see what was happening with the apartment because it is nearby.


Maksym: There was no electricity or water anywhere. The constructor's office, which overlooks Hlybochytska Street, was opened.

Vika: Yes, in 40 minutes, the volunteers came and said that we could go to the toilet and eat, they brought everything to us. We just walked around, met a neighbor with dogs, and gave the dogs a drink, it was quite hot.

I remember we were sitting on the bench without anything, the dog was hungry, and a resident of Tatarka came up to us, she also has a French bulldog, and she brought a lot of food for the dogs, it was nice.


Vika: Our neighbor's apartment was damaged for the second time, like other apartments facing Tatarka. We were saved by the fact that the apartment is on the other side, facing the yard, only some of the apartments here were damaged. It has no windows, you press the door lightly with your finger — and everything shakes.


It was impossible to enter the apartment for two days, the roof was collapsing, and everything was being cleaned. Our apartment was intact, but it felt like everything was falling on our heads: beams, glass... and there was no safe place. In fact, the safety of the corridor is all fantasy, it is very conditional because anything can happen.


We went up to the street of Sichovi Striltsi. It was about eleven in the morning, and the air raid alarm sounded, there were further explosions. We were confused again: where was this safe place? We walked like that until the evening, and then a friend sheltered us.


Maksym: We thought about how to calm the parents so as not to cause unnecessary harm. This event takes you out of your life because you don't plan for it. You don't prepare for it. I also thought about my work processes: that I did not grant access to files, that I did not reply to someone, I recalled the events I had in my calendar, what I had to cancel, and what to reschedule.


Procedural is essential to me because when there is uncertainty, people start to turn on their mechanisms for overcoming problems, and there can be anything happening in an empty place. The rescue services, firefighters, police, and paramilitary units worked well in this situation. Everything was organized. But what to do with people who came out of their homes carrying all sorts of stuff?


It seems to me that if we had been outside Kyiv when all this happened, it would not have been easier for us. There is experience with building №7, but it is still difficult. Not only because of material value, but because of something dreamed of.

We adapted very quickly here, got used to it, and and already explored places where to walk the dog in the morning and in the evening.

We also realized that we were pretty lucky, it could have been worse. And then there is the worst feeling (it is difficult for me to verbalize it) that we have become victims, and immediately the comparison with other people who have suffered more.


​​Vika: I was happy that I managed to survive, but at the same time, I felt guilty that I survived. I have money and a temporary home. When I wake up in someone else's apartment, I feel that I am homeless, even though I have earned so long to have my own.


During the month and a half that we lived in our apartment, I felt that I finally liked the apartment, the building, I like Kyiv. We really want to go home, I miss it, but it has already been under attack and may still be. So far, everything is entirely unclear, none of us will manage the reconstruction because these are crazy funds, we need to do an examination, and dismantle the floors.


​​Maksym: Everyone I knew wanted to help. We already knew where we would spend the night, so we had to tell dozens of people that we would not go to their apartments. I'm used to helping someone, and accepting help is difficult.


I wanted to go to the office, my colleagues and friends were on business trips, and I needed to shut myself in some room, not communicate with anyone, not explain anything to anyone, until I had determined my attitude to this situation. It took time to rethink it all. A lot of calls and offers to help were not annoying, but somewhat disorienting. What shall I do? I didn't feel like I was in a really bad situation, but people offered me some help that made me feel like I was in a bad situation. We wandered, looking for a quiet place to sit for a while — me, Vika, and the dog.


What is a victory to you?

Maksym: Good question. I feel geopolitical injustice. If we take it to the maximum, then such countries as Russia, China, and Turkey, all countries that are developing, betting on force, aggression and horror, will be not so strong.

Vika: For me, this is important, as well as the cultural front, because it makes me crazy. I see a constant manipulation from abroad that this is a war of Putin and his supporters. The touring artists are poor, unfortunate, left because of persecution, and there is a huge narrative that they, too, need to be protected.


Humans of Kyiv

Vika: I am happy that the city is coming to life, people can drink coffee in a coffee shop, and the economy keeps working. Somewhere, this life must continue so that we have the will to endure all of this.

Maksym: I don't even know what the situation should be for us, so we can feel desperate and angry at everyone and everything. And I don't want that to happen.


Vika: I am proud of the "new Kyivans" because sometimes these people do much more than the "old-timer Kyivans." They are developing some places, creating new ones, making efforts, this makes me very happy.

I am quickly adapting to the new Kyiv, and I like it because it has not screwed up, but is developing, and accepting people.

Maksym: Kyiv accepted me, a Ukrainian-speaking guy, rather coldly. I remember how the engineers at work at the coffee machine talked: "Why is he Lunochkin, and he speaks Ukrainian?". Now Kyiv is my home. On February 24, the parents called to Chervonohrad, but there was no longer a sense of home there.


I like the variety of Kyiv. We sometimes argue about this topic. I like some chaotic construction, and I don't like monotony, as in residential areas, or where there are large residential complexes that look like each other as if they were copied on a printer.


I like to watch the improvement of Kyiv. We rarely go out, I don't walk around Kyiv much, it's always some work visits, but I always see something new, convenient, and cool.


Vika: Kyiv of my childhood is completely different in spirit, speed, and even mentality. It lives in me. And on the other hand, this new Kyiv, is getting closer to me. I grew up on Lev Tolstoy Street, the balcony and windows overlooking the botanical garden. This piece is quieter, a separate Kyiv, completely different but also very warm-hearted. I walk a lot, use public transport, and watch how all these streets change. I like the big city, and I'm used to the big city — you just dissolve here.


Maksym: I remembered how we usually walk and just stop at some place: "Oh, here we were going down on a sledge! Oh, my turtle is buried here!"



Now in Kyiv, more strangers are starting to talk, before, I think, everyone was more hostile. You could notice that in the subway, on the escalator, people were going as if from a meat grinder, and everyone was so grumpy! It has changed, Kyiv has become kind.


Child photo — from Victoria's archive. Photo of the building — Radio Svoboda.


The material was created by:

Author:

Transcriber:

Sofia Kotovych

Natalia Gorda

Proofreader:

Photographer and Interviewer:

Hanna Pastushyna

Khrystyna Kulakovska

Translator:

Tonya Smyrnova


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