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‘There is nowhere to retreat; we must fight for our life’

02.10.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Andrii Didenko
Yurii Hryhorovych from Vyshhorod witnessed a rocket hit his house. His wife was seriously injured, underwent several operations, and almost lost sight. If she couldn’t care for herself, he would have to terminate the employment contract with the plant. But despite everything, Yuri does not lose hope.

Panko Yurii Hryhorovych. I will remember [that day] for the rest of my life. I was driving home from work, and I didn’t get to my apartment before the explosion by 20 seconds, no more. The doors were bent, and I barely opened them: they were iron, armored. My wife was lying under the door all bloody. She lost her sight. An ambulance arrived, and we sent her to the regional hospital. I spent the whole evening looking for her because some were taken out, and others were brought in — there was confusion. One woman helped me find her.

Then, she spent three days in Vyshhorod. The injury was severe: her face and head were beaten; her back and legs were blue. She could not have the same operation here as in Kyiv. They sent us to Kyiv, and we spent nine days there. I can’t say for sure: two or three operations were performed on her eyes. Today, she sees poorly: she can see a silhouette 10 meters away, but the image is unclear.

Панько Юрій Григорович, місто Вишгород

Panko Yurii Hryhorovych, Vyshhorod

I covered the windows with plastic because I didn’t want to leave the apartment. The guys from work helped: they came and covered all three windows with cellophane. And I spent the night in a hotel, they put me there. I came home from the hospital at about 11:00 p.m., and the police didn’t let me into my home. No one was allowed there the first night. No one spent the night [at home]; everyone was taken to hotels.

All household appliances were broken. The [Russians] have caused a lot of grief; everything must start from scratch. But I was more worried about my old lady. I didn’t go to work but went to see her at the hospital every day. Then they gave me a vacation. I already had additional leave, and they gave me another month at my own expense. If my wife cannot care for herself, I must terminate my employment contract with the plant. I work as a slinger at a factory. The plant helped with some money to buy medications in the first days.

Tell me, please, maybe you remember that period when Kyiv was almost surrounded?

I remember everything because every 10-15-20 minutes, there were explosions. Of course, we walked and looked around during the first days because it was scary. And then people gradually began to get used to it. I see now people are already walking calmly when there is an air raid warning. Not like in the first days. In the first days, they fled — some to the entrance, some to anywhere. While my wife was away, I went to the bomb shelter in the cinema. And when they brought her, we switched to the two-wall rule. It has somehow become a habit, and we know what needs to be done now. All the same, as they say, there is nowhere to retreat; you just have to fight for life. That’s all.

Житловий будинок у Вишгороді, пошкоджений унаслідок російської ракетної атаки, джерело фото: сайт Президента України

Residential building in Vyshhorod damaged as a result of a Russian missile attack, photo source: website of the President of Ukraine

Maybe you witnessed the destruction when rockets hit some buildings?

I witnessed an attack on our house and the one next door. The rocket fell near the first house and very close to my window — like the distance to that door about 20 meters, no more, from my windows to this hole where it fell. And it fell just at the third entrance. All the concrete stairs folded down. Now they are gone. People have already started doing something there today because I see that a generator has been delivered. And I see that the roof is being dismantled. Allegedly, some people came, I won’t say precisely from where, and they will restore this house. They will remove the old roof and examine the building to see whether it can be fixed. An expert will take a look and decide whether they will restore this house or, perhaps, demolish it and build a new one. I do not know which.

This publication is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Human Rights in Action Program, run by the Ukrainian Helsinki Group on Human Rights (UHSHR).

The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government, or UHSHR. The authors and KHPG are solely responsible for the content of this article.

USAID is one of the world's leading development agencies facilitating the end of extreme poverty and supporting the movement of recipient countries to self-reliance and resilience. USAID also contributes to the national security and economic well-being of the United States. Its activity is a manifestation of the philanthropy of the American people. USAID has been partnering with Ukraine since 1992: during this time, the agency's total assistance to Ukraine amounted to more than 3 billion US dollars. USAID's current strategic priorities in Ukraine include strengthening democracy and good governance, promoting economic development and energy security, improving health systems, and reducing the impact of conflict in the eastern regions. For more information about USAID's activities, please contact the Public Relations Department of the USAID Mission in Ukraine at tel. (+38 044) 521-57-53. We also invite you to visit their website: or the Facebook page:

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