Kyiv (Dagbladet): On the forty-first day of the war, I decided to walk around the city. Since I live in the city center, I use minimal public transportation and get around a lot. Before the war, I tried to walk around town for at least an hour every day. The war changed my habits, and I stayed in the apartment as much as I could for more than a month and only went out when I had to go to the supermarket to buy food. But all these days, I really miss Kyiv and my favorite streets and districts.
The sky was covered with clouds, the wind was blowing hard – and spring had not yet come. There are very few people on the streets, despite the increase in the number of cars. The main street of Khreshchatyk was almost empty. Armed policemen stand outside the entrance to the subway, the entrances are fortified with sandbags with the famous slogan “Russian warships – go to hell” written on it. In the field square there are large concrete blocks and metal obstacles that will stop the armored vehicles. The main post office serves as a press center. Cars marked “PRESS” are parked outside the hotels.
The city’s main monument was also covered to prevent its destruction. I wanted to see with my own eyes what it looks like now. From the square, I walked to Saint Sophia Cathedral. It was built more than a thousand years ago. In the square in front of the cathedral stands the statue of Bohdan Khmelnitsky on horseback, which was unveiled in 1888 in honor of the 900th anniversary of the baptism of the great East Slavic Empire of Kievan Rus’. The monument is now covered with scaffolding and protected with planks. Two girls in military uniforms come towards me. They seem to be here for the same reason to me – they stopped for a minute to take a picture of the memorial and St.
In a small public park nearby, municipal employees work to grow yellow and blue flowers. And despite the cloudy sky, the flowers and the fact that someone cared to decorate the city despite the war made my day brighter. Near another building is the Monastery of Saint Michael with its golden domes. Archangel Michael is seen as the guardian angel of Kyiv, and the monastery was built in his honor in 1113. But in the 30s, the building was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks and Communists, who preferred the monastery to be an administrative building. I see parallels with our days and the new war, when the Russians, whom I see as the heirs of the Bolsheviks, continue to destroy the churches in our country, destroying them with artillery. St. Michael’s Cathedral was rebuilt in the 1990s, after Ukraine became independent.
Next to the cathedral is a monument to Princess Olga (actually Helga, since she was of Scandinavian origin), the Apostle Andreas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples – and Kirill and Methodius – two brothers who made the Cyrillic alphabet. It is interesting that this alphabet arose two centuries before the construction of Moscow. These are also covered with sandbags on all sides.
Then I went to Andriyivskyy Descent, one of the oldest and most famous streets of Kyiv. Before the war, the streets were full of artists selling all kinds of handmade souvenirs. One of the most beautiful Orthodox churches, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, is also located here. It was completed in 1753.
Andriyivskyy Descent is now empty like the rest of the city. But here is an open restaurant. The sign in English shows that tourists are still welcome here. I walk down the steep Kontraktova Square. Just two weeks before the war, it was full of people, and there was a Christmas market here. Young people also tend to be present here – students, musicians, hipsters. One of the oldest universities in Europe is located here, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, which was founded in 1615. Now this popular district is empty. Ferris wheel no longer works. I was here just days before the war, when she was on duty.
After a cup of coffee with a friend who lives in the neighborhood, I came home via the subway. At the entrance, two young men with weapons made a documentary examination. A hairdresser cuts a man near the station box office. Several people are waiting for the train. The big screen, which used to display commercials, now shows the meeting of the United Nations Security Council. I jumped from the station closest to my house, and saw that there were still people staying here for fear of new air strikes. We still hear the sirens, but other than that, the city is on its way to its old normal. More and more of my neighbors are coming back.
The situation in Kyiv has calmed down, while the inferno of war is moving east in Ukraine.
- The diary was translated by Laine Franson.
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