‘In a state of shock, I almost gave away my child …’
During the shelling of Kramatorsk by the Russians, Vadim and his wife were on the evacuation train. His wife was seriously injured. Fortunately, she was saved.
The boss called and said: “Are you going to work?” — “I’m going; why?” — “Don’t you know that the war has begun?” — “What kind of war? Everything was fine yesterday. I came home from work, and everything was fine.” — “No, the war has begun. They’re already shooting everywhere.” At first, I didn’t believe it and thought: was it a joke? But then, I went outside and saw a huge column of cars at a gas station. So I got ready, went to work, and there were already helicopters flying, something was rumbling, and checkpoints appeared at the exit from Liman.
Have you witnessed the destruction of civilian facilities?
Around March, the Russians were in Izium. Two or three times, shells flew toward us from their side. The earth trembled, and after 10 April, the first ruins already appeared. My house was half destroyed. From the neighbor’s house, only the foundation remained. The gas station was damaged across the road. Then a school, two hospitals, a railway station, and a police station. Everything was bombed, and everything burned down.
Have you witnessed civilian casualties?
My friend had seven children. He went to the store, and the rocket flew into their house. He had a mother, father, and children there. All died. He buried them in the garden. A month later, he went to the forest for firewood to prepare for the heating season and was blasted by a mine. We buried what was left of his body. With him, it seems, there was also a godson. He also died. My sister’s husband’s parents entered the street, and a shell flew in. Aunt Ania was hit by shrapnel, and the Russians took her away. The wound was in the stomach, and they barely saved her.
Did you go down to the shelter?
No. When we were still at home, sitting in basements was unnecessary. The situation was more or less normal. There were sirens, fighters were flying, and it was heard that they were bombing something nearby. In March, I went to live at my workplace because there was a gas station near my house. It was scary as they could suddenly bomb it. And I could live in the workplace. Russian fighter jets bombed Sloviansk in March, and we could hear it. The plane flew in a circle; ours wanted to shoot it down but could not.
How was your evacuation from Liman?
On 6 April, we left Liman for Kramatorsk and went to the station to wait for the evacuation train. My mother and younger brother left earlier, but my wife and I did not go because when we approached the volunteers, they said we would not be let through. Well, okay. We parted with the family and went to the volunteer center. We spent the night there. On the eighth, we again went to the station and waited a long time for the train. Finally, we boarded the train, but something happened, and we waited another forty minutes. Everything was fine, but around noon, the siren sounded. We thought that everything would work out, but suddenly the bombing began. The first explosion was behind the station near the parking lot. A rocket flew on which was written: “For the children.” The second rocket hit the platform next to the train. And then even stronger: shelling, explosions. On the train, one man was injured by the glass and died on the spot.
I went to my wife, who had heavy bleeding in the lower abdomen. She couldn’t get up, and I had a baby in my arms.
We left our things and documents and went to the exit. The wife said she was getting worse. Finally, she lost consciousness and fell on the platform. I ran to look for help. When we returned, she was lying, no longer talking, next to the child. Then a woman approached me and said: “Let me take the child; I will save him!” In a state of shock, I almost gave away the child but regained consciousness and took it back.
People rushed to help my wife and told me to step away and not to interfere. So I went and only then noticed that my leg was hurting. It turned out that shrapnel also wounded me. We went to the hospital, but it was crowded. So many brought in were already lying on the floor, covered with sheets. There were a lot of people at the station. Both old and young. I was lying in the ward with one guy who was also at the station. He said that his mother and father went to another region, and he was with his grandmother, but she stayed at the station.
I think the informant was there. Someone told me that a man was walking around the station, shouting that everyone should gather in a circle on the platform and not disperse. But why? Finally, we were taken from Kramatorsk to Pavlograd in the Dnepropetrovsk region at night. We were treated there for a week with infusion pumps and wound dressings. Then we decided the whole family should get together and go to Lviv.
How severe were your injuries?
My lungs were impacted. There are just a couple of fragments left that have not yet been pulled out. I could live with them, and everything was okay. Some people needed help more than me. But with the wife, it was more complicated. If they didn’t help, she would have died. So it’s good that they could save her.
Do you plan to return home after the end of the war?
I plan to, but the house must be significantly patched up. The wall fell, and there were all the little things. There are no windows, no doors. I also had a summer kitchen, which folded like a house of cards. And the “liberators” took all the furniture out into the street. They made a gazebo for themselves to relax. Our friends were there, and I asked them to take pictures and videos. Only the Russians could have done this because ours returned in the fall.