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Maxim Tkachenko



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.

In 2014, I was at home — in Luhansk. I saw everything that happened there from the very beginning to the end. From the funny so-called "anti-maidanites", who constantly scared local fools with the mythical "banderites" and until the not-so-funny summer, when the city got significantly destroyed due to constant shelling. I remember almost everything that happened during that year. Although I actually know that this is not the case, because after 2014 I never wanted to remember it again, so, accordingly, it is quite possible that some memories have been lost after all. I still don't want to remember.

At that time, I was a completely naive person who believed in god knows what and did not have any experience of independent life. Of course, it's clear to me today, but it didn't seem like that to me then.Luhansk taught me to be an adult, but it was not able to kill my inner child, which, of course, is very comforting.If you answer about memories as a kaleidoscope of events without a detailed description of each of them, then it will look like this - I remember:

demonstrations and feeling of helplessness; the total schizophrenia of the so-called "Luhansk Guards", which worshiped the USSR, Nicholas II, and tried to scare the people of Luhansk with some ridiculous horrors;an interesting mini-interrogation in some anonymous "headquarters" (I don't know whether it was russians or some local clowns with weapons);the first military planes in the sky;the first shellings of the city;the first nights in the basement;the first "hits" landing on my and neighbor’s street;searching for food, water, communication, energy;the first corpses;an indescribable feeling, when you realized that you had been standing in a huge pool of blood and did not even notice;first evacuation (unsuccessful);
second evacuation (this time it was possible to settle down)

"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 these eight years, I have been to many places, but within the borders of Ukraine. I managed to visit almost all big cities, lived in some for a while, traveled to some for work, and so on.

After I had to leave Luhansk, I almost never returned there. Only once or twice during 2014-2016, and then never again.

At first, I lived in Kyiv in rather bad conditions in a hostel for internally displaced people and worked as an SMM in a cool shopping mall on the other side of the city. It was a difficult phase of my life. To be independent in general is not an easy thing, and if you also start it with an escape from the war and the "republic", then it’s an even bigger mess.

Afterwards I moved to Starobilsk (a town located about 100 km from the front until 2022), it was easier there (especially financially). A small town where it was relatively easy to do a lot of things, mainly because there wasn’t much there in the first place. Volunteering, initiating or helping to hold some festivals, street exhibitions, etc. A large number of residents are from Luhansk, sometimes it seemed that there were even more Luhansk residents than local residents.

I actively engaged in photography, shooting people, streets, and abstractions. I visualized my thoughts, ideas and feelings by any means I could.

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, I was with my wife in our rented apartment in Starobilsk. I did not believe, or did not want to believe, that the war could actually begin. After all, there were already those false warnings (about a possible attack, shelling) before. I tried to think logically. And the attack did not seem logical at all. But what happened happened.

We had to face shelling and occupation again. It was possible to leave only about a month later, somewhere at the end of March. As it turned out later, the timing was good, because a week later, the bus of that private entrepreneur was fired upon somewhere (there were dead and wounded).

Once again, I had to depart into nowhere. Without any plan, without understanding even which city to go to. We lived for a while in Dnipro, Cherkasy, and now we are back in Kyiv. Where will we end up tomorrow - who knows?

We try to preserve some remnants of mental health, we work a lot (perhaps even too much). I hardly take photos anymore, all my creative energy is consumed by graphic design. Or I just don’t want anything. Occupation and loss of everything is incredibly difficult, and when it happens again, you don't even know how to express these levels of hatred, despair, anger.

I see my future quite clearly. I don't know what will happen to all of us, but I have too much anger to just sink down to the bottom. During the war, the right thing to do is, if not to become better than before, at least not to become worse. I don't plan to die yet, fuck it.

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