top of page

Yulia Sidorchenko



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.

17 years.
It was morning, around five o'clock. I woke up due to a quiet and unknown hum outside the window. I was not at home, I was spending time with friends. I woke up after the first explosion, Sever woke up after the second (*local name of the city of Severodonetsk). My mother immediately started calling me. The first thing she said to me was: “Go home. Quickly". Back then I only understood as much as my young brain could grasp. Scary, fast, loud, no connection, no internet. There were only adults on the streets, they went to collect water, because it had gone out already.
Every day there was just a huge misunderstanding, then I tried to figure out why the whole of Ukraine calls us "Donbas separs", because of what is Lysychansk suffering, why Luhansk, why the referendum, why, why, why?... Yes, I was at home in 2014-2015 .
I remember the blackout. It is when they turn off the lights throughout the city, because at 7 pm they shell Lysik (*local name of the city of Lysychansk). It was all strange to me then. I saw bombs flying over this city from my balcony. My mother says that I cried and asked: "Why are you doing this to the Lysychansk people?" I can’t remember. It was difficult. 
I remember the absence of connection. A point where you really cannot know or find out where a person is because any signal was blocked.
I remember VK (t.n. Russian social media, smth like Facebook), which at that time still had chat rooms where they wrote about the state of events. How I tried to catch at least some Internet connection to find out where they were shooting.
One time I felt like a small and defenseless animal. I walked to the store, and when I went out, I was struck by the fact that the people nearby, all like one, were looking at the sky in silence. I looked up too - there was a plane. It dropped something, and that something hung in the sky.
My legs just wouldn’t obey, my head told me to run, I wanted to cry, I felt sick from fear.
I remember the tricolor over the city hall. But I can't say for sure what it was, this event was similar to a protest. This rag was then torn off, then hung back again.
I remember Lenin. When I heard from my childhood that it was better "back then", and now you see him knocked to the ground. I did not understand then how I felt. I was uneasy on a constant basis. Old people said: "What are you doing?", and young people followed the path of Ukraine.
Most of all, I hated rain with thunder. When the weather was like this, it was the scariest thing. Those animals that were shooting learned to mask the shellings under the roar of thunder.
At first you don't pay attention, and then you start counting the seconds in your head. The only time I heard the sound of a rocket was in the evening. First you see a red speck in the sky and hear a whistle, and then you run, run away.
I couldn't do anything, I wanted to be a superhero to destroy all this abomination at once. I just wanted to live in my Ukrainian Sever. And so I lived.

"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 could not live in a state of stress for long. The brain adapts quickly. Then, already in 2016, I entered the university. Lived in Kharkiv, quickly fell in love with this city. I got to live 2.5 years of a full life. But I never forgot where I came from and who I am.They say that the treatment of displaced persons in 2014-2015 was poor. I have not experienced such behavior towards myself. Next, I changed at least two cities before coming home for good. I came to Severodonetsk in 2019. The city even breathed differently, it grew, flourished, I found my best job - the theater. In 2014, the Luhansk Regional Theater moved to Severodonetsk. Three people moved together with it. But over time, the artistic crew grew, the theater started to live and receive spectators. I became part of the team. Three years of bright performances, plays, tours, birthdays.
I changed my attitude towards my life. During all this time, it became the most important thing. Perhaps returning home affected me more than anything else, because I have never loved and understood what home is so much before.

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?

A week before February 24, I already packed everything important in a backpack. I went to work and went out with it. It all started on February 24 with a call from my boyfriend. Then I heard explosions coming from the Lysychansk side. I got a call from work. I had to decide whether I was leaving now. I decided to go collect my documents from the theater. I cried the whole way there, stupor and fear, all those flashbacks again. I saw documents getting destroyed near the regional court. Taxis no longer take you outside the city, even for a large sum. The only way out was my father and his car. But he refused to take me, he insisted that I should stay, that everything would be like in 2014. But no, it won't. In Lysychansk, I got to the train station, then I walked to the center. It was getting scary again, but now even stronger. Then I hid in a bomb shelter for the first time in my life. My boyfriend and I finally got to the evacuation site. We waited for the train for about 4 hours, and all this time we heard explosions somewhere nearby, then even closer.
Now we are in Lviv. Two days to get to a more or less quiet city.
I'm starting over again. I am leaving my job, looking for a new one, and studying.
At the moment, I have no idea about my future - I can’t see it clearly. In this state there is only now and today.

bottom of page