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Alisa Polishchuk



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.

When the war started in 2014, I was 20 years old. I was finishing college and planning to defend my thesis. I remember well that the defending part didn't work out. On the day of the defense of diplomas, our group was divided into two parts: the first one made it, and the second, where I was, did not. It was at that time that the heavy shelling of Stanytsia Luhanska began and we could hear it from our floor. Because of this, everyone was dismissed and given grades without defending. We also didn't have a graduation party, and to be honest, we weren't up to it anyways..
The city was restless. Pro-Ukrainian rallies got more and more dangerous for those who attended them. Then the SSU building was seized and it became extremely dangerous. I came there once to see what was going on. A whole tent city was spread out there, many people, car tires, flags and other things. At that time, I only saw the Maidan on video and photos, when I was following the situation, so everything that happened then under the SSU reminded me of the Maidan, only it seemed that it was happening as if through a looking glass.
When we realized that it would only get worse and more dangerous, when we heard the first shots, when a serious panic had already arisen, I made the decision to leave the city. I bought train tickets: for myself and my boyfriend - to Kyiv, and for my parents - to Crimea. We decided to separate since neither I nor my boyfriend definitely wanted to go to Crimea.In turn my parents did not want to go to Ukrainian cities. An abyss had formed between us, but I did not pay attention to it at the time, because the war of views worried me less then than it does now.
We left, like everyone else at that time — with a minimum of things, on the last trains that were still running, at our own peril and risk. Nobody conducted any evacuations then, so we were left to ourselves.
When we were passing near Luhansk, my boyfriend, looking out of the train window, said a familiar, but at that moment painful phrase: "I love you homeland even though you are a ugly."

"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.

All 8 years I felt in limbo. I tried to adapt to my new life, survived in my own way and traveled a lot to cities, looking for a new home. Starting in 2016, I began to periodically return to Luhansk, then left there again when it became very psychologically difficult. We can say that for all 8 years I was partly there, as much as I could, and partly on the controlled territories of Ukraine.

My boyfriend and I got to live in Odesa, Lviv and a small village in the Carpathians. All kinds of adventures - good and bad - happened to us everywhere. We got into different situations, found a way out of everything, except for one thing - the loss of a sense of home. We could not in any way influence the situation that happened to our region and city, so we simply lived, looking for a common ground with each other and with the surrounding world.

Everywhere they sympathized with us or simply asked: "Well, how is it there? Still shooting?” At first I answered in detail, and then I just waved my hand and smiled wryly, realizing that I didn't want to say anything. I still managed to adapt to the constant feeling of endless war, but to force someone else to adapt to it, to explain - no, it was unnecessary.

I am glad that I was not in Luhansk all these years, and I am glad that I was not very far from it. I was nearby, but more often at a distance than inside of it all. That gave me a sense and understanding of the price of freedom. When I returned to the city, even at the checkpoints, I  already felt that this freedom was being taken away from me.

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?

I did not believe that there would be a full-scale offensive. I thought, I was even sure, that everything would be as usual - within the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. I came to terms with this idea a long time ago, because several times a year the city was waiting for an attack, rumors spread and so on. Over time, you get used to it and hardly react at all. It's like rumors about the end of the world: if you talk about it often enough, after a while you simply stop reacting.

Before the 24th, there was no peace in the city for a long time. Everything started earlier for us, so the atmosphere was gloomy, difficult, panicky. We were already waiting and knew that something here would soon get even worse than it already is. But on February 24, something happened that I definitely did not expect.

On February 24, I woke up to the sound of the glass in my window shaking. At first I thought it was a dream, but then there was another explosion and I realized that it wasn´t one. Turned on the phone and turned on the Internet. Hands have already begun to tremble. I immediately received a text message "You got called" at five in the morning from friends, from my boyfriend. And in Telegram, the first message I read was from a friend. She wrote:

"Anechka, when shelling, is there a smell? We hear explosions. Kharkiv"

I couldn't believe my own eyes reading this. Yes, there were explosions outside the window, somewhere 15-20 kilometers away, I don't know for sure. But what I read shocked me more than anything else. Then there was a message from my boyfriend: "It's started," and many similar messages from friends, in joint chats, at work. It was a horror that I could not fully comprehend. I called and wrote to everyone I know, asked how they packed their emergency bag, and calmed down my relatives. Then during the week I just laid, read the news, hardly slept and did not eat.

From the beginning of the full-scale war, I stayed in Luhansk until June. Recently I left to Lviv to think about what to do next and to relax psychologically, having changed my surroundings. Now I am confused, but I get collected back together by creativity and ideas that I want to put in practice. The main thing I want is for the war to end, and only after that will it be possible to think about the future. So far, I have neither the strength nor the right to do so. And the future is possible when there is will, when there is freedom.

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