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Vitaliy Popovych



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.

I vaguely remember the pre-war life — all memories until 2014 turned into jelly, diluted by everyday problems such as the "academy" at the music school or a broken DVD player. I only remember that there were no shots or explosions. At the time of those events, I was 15 years old. Parents often discussed politics, there was rarely anything good on TV, but it also was difficult to understand what was happening back then. First there was incomprehension, then fear. You know, a fifteen-year-old child is unlikely to normally perceive a fighter jet flying overhead and firing heat traps to avoid getting hit. It’s not an amusement park ride or something. I remember this moment well: it was not too scary, but you definitely don’t wish to witness anything  like it again. When the war got very close, so close that it was impossible to sleep due to the explosions - not only because of the noise, but also because of the vibration of the walls and furniture, and when we now had to run to the basement 10 times a day - the decision was made to leave the city. On June 25, I departed with my family. We planned to visit relatives to wait it all out. The next day, our neighbor took the same route. Her bus came under fire and burned down. She survived.

"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.

I hate the phrase: "Where were you these eight years?" — it is used by people who have absolutely no knowledge of the situation; they use it because there is nothing else for them to say. After returning home, it was kind of unsettling to see the destruction. There was not too much of it, because the city passed to different sides without strong resistance, that's true. Lysychansk was lucky then: the cities did not receive such hard damage, because the separatists did not have enough weapons. They lasted only a month and a half, then they got chased away. Afterwards, life went on. The fact that all these events took place in the summer made it possible to finish and start school years in time. Everything returned to its former place and it seemed that the worst was over. A lot has changed since 2014. During these eight years, I obtained a higher education, tried myself in various areas of activity - journalism, culture, engineering. A lot has happened, it is kind of uncomfortable that a part of life has been lost. Many places where important life moments took place are destroyed or damaged. For example, the Technical Building, where I performed in the choir and went to clubs, was destroyed. The room at the music school, where I studied piano for 8 years, was also destroyed. The place, the details of which I knew by heart, where I performed hundreds of pieces of music, is gone. The university in Severodonetsk was also destroyed, my favorite laboratory building, in which we sat for lectures on the theory of automatic control, got shelled. I would like to relive those moments all over again.

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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?

On February 24, at five in the morning, my friend Oleksandr woke me up. He said: "It has started." At that moment, I was far from the borders - in Ternopil, together with my younger sister Vladyslava. Employment in electrical power and engineering allowed me to leave in advance. My management wanted to play it safe and offered to go away for some time. At first I wanted to come alone, but my mother asked me to take my sister with me just in case. I would hate myself for the rest of my life if I didn't take her then. I believed in a full-scale offensive from the very beginning. Around November, I had a dream: many white parachutes - the landing of the enemy over Severodonetsk. This dream happened again at the beginning of February. Both times I was in a terrible state of mind after the dream. After passing the diploma - on December 16 - I told all my friends and relatives: "We have to leave here." I suggested an option in which everyone would evacuate and live all together, to wait things out. But no one agreed to it, some said I was paranoid. When I asked my parents for a suitcase to pack, I heard in response that I am getting ahead of myself. Now I live in Vinnytsia with my girlfriend and sister. Before that, the family of a colleague in the city of Borshchiv gave us shelter. Yes, the name of the city is like the name of our national dish. Our parents stayed in the occupied territory and are not going to leave, and we work every day and hope to return to our hometown. We sincerely believe that this will happen soon.

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