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Borodyanka, Bucha, Irpin: A Photo Report by Vera Blanche

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine, many architectural monuments and museums have been completely destroyed and their collections have been exported to the territory of the occupiers.

Photographer Vera Blanche visited cities affected by the enemy and captured some of the most sensual moments for Your Art.

Ukrainian version is here

I’ve been filming all of the events near me almost since the start of the full-scale invasion, but to be completely honest, I have never thought of becoming a war photographer! It’s not an entirely comfortable experience for me, but I understand the importance of this moment and significance of spreading our ukrainian truth worldwide! Currently, I’m capturing the works of the First Volunteer Medical Hospital on the frontlines in the East of Ukraine.

In my opinion, they are true heroes, the same as our great warriors of light, who rescue the lives of the injured on the frontlines of this brutal war. I plan to publish a photobook and share it with the entire world. Let the truth prevail over dirty lies and light — over darkness!

Borodyanka

The Statue of Archangel Michael, whose cross has been dipped due to a nearby explosion, hasn’t fallen, while his sword hasn’t moved an inch.

I left for this trip with a group of volunteers and only had a couple of minutes to film. I knew beforehand that it would be like that, and nevertheless, I still got in the car because sometimes even a couple of minutes is enough for you to capture an image.

Bucha

During the first days after the liberation of Bucha you could spot unexploded anti-tank mines on different parts of the road. A blasted building of a grocery store. Across the street lay a corpse of an older man, whose head was shot through, and near him — products he bought only a couple of minutes earlier.

Shpytky

A destroyed shopping mall near Zhytomyrske highway. We were caught under fire, as the territory hadn’t been freed yet, and direct combat was going on. Commander has ordered us to hold on to zelenka (an antiseptic) and quickly run to our military post. It was scary at first, but the realization that the bullet won’t ask when to hit you completely calmed me down. We remained intact; we stayed alive.

My second trip to Borodyanka after its liberation. We were driving through woods, swamps and fields because all of the bridges had been mined or destroyed. In order to deliver humanitarian aid to the residents of Borodyanka, we had to stop being fearful and do our job despite any obstacles!

The impression left after the city’s destruction by rashists was so overpowering that my legs refused to go on. It was impossible to comprehend the level of such brutality. Residential houses were destroyed. When I took a photograph, there were Ukrainian people still waiting for help under collapsed buildings.

Бородянка. Перша  поїздка  після  звільнення.
Бородянка. Перша поїздка після звільнення.

Bucha, first days of liberation. Vokzalna street — the one where rashists’ tanks have stood — mined homes of the elderly. Locals tried to save themselves by writing “People” on their houses hoping that invaders won’t kill them. Witnesses reported that in the last weeks before the liberation rashists weren’t ashamed of anything: they were executing everybody they saw on the streets. People had to fetch water and food products, go to a shop or visit a neighbour while fearing for their lives. Not everyone has survived…

Irpin

A local theatre was shelled and destroyed inside and out by the rashists, with the stage wholly obliterated. All of this is happening while Russian art leaders fear the worldwide boycott of Russian culture.

Zhytomyrske Highway

Shelled cars of civilians stretch for thirty kilometres until they reach Kyiv as remnants of Ukrainians who tried to flee the war lie tortured nearby. Ninety-five percent of them are women and children. Some bodies have been burned after being raped, including minors. Before packing the remains of human bodies in bags, criminologists have recorded every atrocity of the Russian aggression. It is a pain of colossal proportions to witness these scenes of inhumanity, but I realize the importance of such documentation every time on a trip like this. Truth cannot vanish. It must wail throughout the world, lest another grave atrocity and genocide be committed against humanity and any nation!

Kyiv

“Fuck off, Druzhby Narodiv!” [Friendship of Nations]. Dismantling a hypocritical monster of a monument, which has been imposed on the Ukrainian people for the last three hundred years.

Demolished!

Translated by Anna Shevetovska

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