The Meaning of “?” on Village Near Kyiv, where landmines are being cleared | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Meaning of “?” on Village Near Kyiv, where landmines are being cleared

Nonfiction writer Takehide Mizutani's on-site report on the "Ukraine War”

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Mr. and Mrs. Vasil lives in a village near Kyiv. The gate of their house is marked with a “.” Which means  “safe” because there are no land mines.
A house with a “?” on the gate of their house. It indicates that there is a danger of landmines remaining in the area.

The gates of houses in a row are marked with yellow paint with “? and “.” I wondered what they were, so I asked a Ukrainian man driving a car, and he replied, “The landmine clearance team has been surveying the area.”

I was told that the landmine clearance team had completed their survey and that houses that are in good condition were marked with a “.” and houses that are likely to have some problems can be marked with “?”

We were driving through a small village called Andrivka, about 40 kilometers west of the capital city of Kyiv. The village was occupied by the Russian army for a month, and fierce fighting ensued. On the west side of Kyiv, including this village, the Ukrainian military is currently clearing landmines and disposing of unexploded weapons.

We approached a couple sitting on a bench in front of the gate and they kindly invited us into their home. The result of the mine survey is “.” The couple is Vasil Maluha, 65, and his wife, Natalia, 63.

They said, “The demining team was surveying each house one by one. But there didn’t seem to be enough time to examine everything. They were also looking for wire-trap bombs.”

During the interview, a dull “boom” of an explosion could be heard in the distance. It was believed to be the sound of an explosion when unexploded ordnance was disposed of.

Vasil, who began his story with the removal of landmines, confided that he had actually been confined by the Russian military for two days starting on March 3. The location was a goat shed on a neighbor’s property.

They h andcuffed my left hand together with the right hand of another resident.

When Vasil rolled up his left arm, the bruise was still clearly visible.

Two days later we were released, but even then the Russians came to our house several times, looting our TVs, computers, clothes, and foodstuffs.

Perhap s reliving the horror of that time, Vasil sobbed many times during the trip. Natalia, who could not bear to look at him, came to his side and soothed him.

The Russian troops who had taken over the village had deployed tanks and armored vehicles in the area and were attacking Kyiv.

After being released, Vasil took Natalia, her dog, and two cats and hid in a bunker in a shed on the grounds of her home. Since there was no electricity, water, or gas, they built a fire in front of the hut with firewood.

The temperature is about 3 degrees Celsius. We made soup with onions, potatoes, and carrots in front of the hut and took it to the bunker to eat. We also brought in mattresses to sleep on. We could also hear the sound of missiles being fired. I was afraid we would be shot directly into the air.

Vasil showed us around the bunker.

We opened the door to the hut and descended a steep concrete staircase to a room less than two meters high and about six tatami mats in size. On the floor were containers of potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables, and on shelves mounted at head height The Russian troops, who would come in turns to loot the place, would sometimes ask. I spent my time in that room, layering my clothes and keeping my body as warm as possible. us surprising questions.

‘Why do you have a toilet in your house?’

Do you have DVDs? “

The village is paved with asphalt. Is it a big town? “

When the TV was taken, only the audio part was somehow left behind. Mr. Vasil tells us.

“I think that soldier doesn’t have a bathroom in his house. And we don’t watch movies on DVD. We watch them on the Internet. If he left the audio on the TV, he probably doesn’t know how it works. But the Russian soldiers who occupied it must have envied us because of our affluent lifestyle. “This is a village with a normal standard of living in Ukraine.”

Some of the Russian soldiers who were deployed to Ukraine may have grown up in harsh living conditions.

During the occupation, I also witnessed the scene where a young man I knew was found shot to death.

He said, “I found him at the back of the house, behind the backyard. He had been shot in the temple, so I think it was an execution by the Russian military.

Both of Vasil’s neighbors were burned and destroyed by shelling. Part of the wall of Vasil’s house was torn off by the blast. The fence separating their house from the one next door was riddled with holes from the gunfire. Even so, Vasil and his wife were safe in their bunker.

“Now that the Russian army has retreated, we are living on food and other supplies provided by volunteers. We are really grateful. “

That evening, Vasil and his wife were sitting on a bench in front of the gate, huddled together in the sun with their dog and cat.

They looked relieved after escaping the war.

Their television set was looted by Russian soldiers.
An underground bunker on the grounds of his home. He hid in the cold, huddled together with his wife.
  • Interview, photographs, and text by Takehide Mizutani (Nonfiction writer)

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