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Valeria Krupoderya



How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you?
Please tell this story in detail.

2014 year. I'm 11 years old. In my school No. 21, "March 8th" is celebrated, Ukrainian songs are playing, and in the air there is a feeling that something is coming that will  take away the opportunity to sing in Ukrainian soon. You can not confuse this anxiety with anything, because it envelops your consciousness very quickly. I clearly remember how from March to May, when the separatists were already freely walking around the city with weapons, in our school at solemn events they often sang the song of the Scryabin band "Your Our Own Country". We held on to this song as if it were a meaning that should preserve our right to be Ukraine, and only one thing sounded in our heads: "You are your own country! Get your head in order!". But there was no order, neither in the head nor in the city, because the city was turning into a victim of the "russian world" experiment, where people lost touch with reality and began to absorb propaganda, which later played an evil joke on all of us. Representatives of local authorities at the time, or rather collaborators, incited people, organized paid rallies and hung russian rags on administrative buildings, in one word, they called russian hell on Ukrainian soil.
April. The SBU Administration is seized, where the separatists took possession of a large number of weapons. From there, they began to record appeals with the demand to hold a referendum on the creation of the so-called "Luhansk People's Republic". The residents of Luhansk, who watched these actions of armed masked people, did not fully understand what this process could lead to and naively hoped that life under the "people's" government would be much brighter and clearer. All this arbitrariness was observed by the law enforcement agencies, which did not react in a right way either.
Parallel to all these pro-russian sentiments, Luhansk residents, who were against secession under any conditions, went to rallies for the preservation of unity. On April 19, almost half a thousand Ukrainians came to a rally for the unity of Ukraine, who believed in preserving sovereignty to the last, even when strong clashes with a pro-russian group of people began. And according to the tradition of russian propaganda, as you can guess, "activists" with tricolors were mostly brought there by buses, because at the beginning of the rallies, their number was not very large. Actually, the focus of the propaganda was mostly directed at what some Luhansk residents wanted to hear: "The Verkhovna Rada does not hear us", "Luhansk and Donetsk feed Ukraine, but they themselves suffer from poverty", "The new Kyiv authorities are the enemy, and Russia will help us get stronger" and further down the list. russian technologies made people believe that Donbas cannot "prosper" without russia.
May. The next stage in this propaganda campaign is the сonnection of russian tv channels. I remember these feelings: you wake up in the morning, out of habit you want to turn on the Ukrainian "New channel", and instead you see "russia-24". That morning we woke up under occupation, because it is through information that Russia extends its claws. Also, a pseudo-referendum was being held in May. And then the so-called consequences of the "russian peace" begin.
June. On June 1, pro-Russian militants launched a several-day assault on the border post in Luhansk. Although the first attack on border guard units was carried out on May 7. Eyewitnesses claimed that the Luhansk border squad remained the only state institution in Luhansk over which the Ukrainian flag was still hanging at the beginning of the summer of 2014. In general, I remembered this month by the endless air raids, battles near the city, a series of explosions near the Luhansk Regional State Administration, checkpoints of militants near my house, who also set up "grads" near residential buildings. It was this month that I learned for the first time what it was like to hide in the basement, and until this moment to run towards it, covering my head with my hands. It was a difficult month. That's when I left home. I had to go to Lysychansk, and then to Bilolutsk, because near Lysychansk there was also shelling every night. And only after Bilotsk, on July 18, I went to Kyiv with my mother and a small suitcase of summer clothes.
In Kyiv, we lived with an acquaintance’s place, where, in addition to us, several people stayed in the one room. My mother and I slept on the same mattress and before going to sleep we asked ourselves what to do next in a completely foreign city. In August, we found volunteers who helped us find a room in the suburbs of Kyiv for a good price, and they also gave us 4 plates and warm clothes. By the way, we still have these plates, because I can't describe how happy I was at that time, when we didn't have anything "of our own" except a small suitcase. Already in September, I went to a new school, thinking that I would study there until October at the most, but no.
And only in 2015 I went to Luhansk for a week to visit my grandparents, again in 2016, but for the last time. The city became completely foreign and distant from me. People got used to living under a fictional flag there very quickly. The main point of this city became survival, but not prosperity.

"Where were you these 8 years?".
How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014?
What has influenced you the most during this time?
Please write in detail.

During this time, I managed to finish school and already this year to transfer to the 3rd college year, I completed an internship in one of the Ukrainian media, at the age of 16 I worked in modeling, traveled in Europe, went hiking in the Carpathians, often have been to Lviv, built connections in Kyiv, studied the history of our Ukraine, went to rallies, urged people to stop being apolitical and remember the occupied territories in the East of the country. At the beginning of winter, I managed to fully switch to the Ukrainian language, which surprised my relatives from Luhansk. I study at the Institute of Journalism at the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University. I write for the Ukrainian online media, which we created together with friends. Dissemination of important Ukraine topics was, is and will be my priority. Unfortunately, due to the difference in opinion and the language of hostility towards Ukraine, I do not communicate with my relatives who live in occupied Luhansk. On February 24, they were happy that russia decided to go to war on the whole of Ukraine, despite the fact that I have lived in Kyiv for 8 years and have always talked about the development of Ukraine and a successful future, which Luhansk will also be a part of. Their consciousness is clouded by russian propaganda, so they are unable to perceive my arguments.

What was February 24, 2022 for you like?
Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin?Where are you now? What do you do?

What do you think about your future now?

At the beginning of February 2022, I actively went to rallies and saw the attitudes of Ukrainians, so I was sure that there is no such foundation as in 2014, which would easily allow Putin to start a new escalation. I considered a similar scenario to what I saw in 2014, when collaborators in the government actively incited the population and facilitated a hybrid war from russia’s side.However, I definitely could not imagine that without such a "symbiosis" a full-scale invasion would still be possible. It seemed to me that already knowing some aspects of the war, I would not be afraid and I would be ready if the war caught up with me in Kyiv. However, it is impossible to be ready for something like this. During February, I actively followed the rapidly unfolding events: the shelling of Stanytsia Luhansk (at that time a territory under the control of Ukraine), the recognition of the so-called "LDNR" by Putin, the warning of Western intelligence about an "invasion this week", the closing of embassies and the cancellation of flights - all this forced us to accept the fact that the war would move on further very soon.
On February 24, I woke up at 05:00 to the most terrible sounds, sounds I never thought I would hear again after 8 years - they were explosions. At first, it all seemed like a dream, plus, nothing was published in the media yet, but local Telegram channels already began to post the first videos of shelling in Kharkiv and Mariupol, and only later they wrote about Kyiv. Then again an explosion outside the window and the understanding that this is no dream. At home, everyone was still asleep, so the responsibility of saying the very "it started" fell on me. This day turned to hell, because I was always afraid of the occupation more than the bombing of cities, since I saw the consequences of such a life. The news that the russian army crossed the Ukrainian borders made my heart sink, because for me, the encroachment on the statehood of my country and the killing of Ukrainians is the greatest pain I have suffered since 2014, and here the repetition of this trauma resurfaced on an even larger scale. In the evening, I was mentally more collected and my mother and I prepared blankets for spending the night in the storage room. Already on the evening of February 24, my stepfather went to defend the Kyiv region as part of the "Azov" regiment. The next morning, I went to a village 120 km from the city, where I worked on the information front: blocking russian fakes, communicating with foreigners, spreading information, opening of online media and, of course, sending donations to the Armed Forces. I carry out all these actions to this day, on the 5th month of the war, urging others not to forget that the war is still going on.

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