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Pavlo Kharchenko


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 14 years old. Then, fortunately, I did not observe the war first-hand. I remember that it was the end of my eighth grade. Just then, the SBU building was captured, separatists occupied it, and therefore Sovietska Street was blocked on both sides, and to get to school you had to take a huge detour. Now I remember that it was a pretty crazy experience, although I didn't understand much at the time. For some time, nothing changed, and then - already after the end of the school year - fighter jets began to fly over the city, air alarms sounded.
A couple of days later, my father, who was divorced from my mother, offered to take me to Kharkiv for a while. I spent most of the summer there in safety. Towards the end of the summer, it became clear that the hostilities in my hometown are not ending, and I needed to study somewhere, so they decided that I would go to my grandmother in Severodonetsk, where at that time it was relatively safe.
Fortunately, the city itself was not shelled, although light and water regularly went out for a day or two, due to shelling.
More worrisome was the fact that for several months there was absolutely no way to contact my mother and stepfather. They have gotten electricity, mobile communication and the Internet only in January 2015, if I remember right. The rest of the year passed quite calmly: after the ninth grade, I returned to Luhansk and have been living there ever since.

"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.

The next eight years passed quite calmly, but not without some discomfort. All this time, Luhansk was quite far from the war zone, so for a very long time no one here mentioned the shelling, except that my mother was afraid of the salutes. The most annoying thing was the impossibility of getting to Severodonetsk without problems to see my grandmother and friends.. 
Before, it could be reached in two hours from the bus station, but after the war, such a trip took all day and cost much more. In addition, due to my rather non-conformist appearance, there was additional stress at the EECP. What is characteristic is that the Ukrainian military perceived it much better. I lived in Luhansk pretty much all these years, except that I was in Kharkiv for about seven months in 2018, but then I decided to return home.
After I graduated from college, with the help of my father, I started working in the Ukrainian mass media. Most of all, during these eight years, I was under the gradual perception that I, as a person who, despite having Ukrainian citizenship, lives in the "LPR", is not needed by anyone. russia needs "republics" and the people who live in them, like a chess player needs a chess piece, and Ukraine seems to need only the Luhansk territories, because even in more peaceful times it seemed that for many Ukrainians, there existed only selected territories in their country  and some NPCs living in them.
Despite the fact that several of my relatives and acquaintances sincerely cheer for Ukraine and support it, on Facebook or Tiktok I often came across Ukrainian-speaking users who spoke disparagingly not even about the "republics" themselves, but about the people who live there. It seems to me that the residents of Luhansk and Donetsk, in the case of the return of the territories to Ukraine, will not be perceived as countrymen by Ukrainians for a long time.

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?

In the days leading up to the events of February 24, I watched that farce that russia had staged. That same day, I woke up quite late, messengers were flooded with news sent by friends. But I was no longer surprised that the war had begun, although I had not thought that there would be a full-scale offensive. My opinion changed only after the "LPR" military began demonstratively firing artillery, imitating Ukrainian shelling, and blew up a car in the city center. Before that, it seemed to me that the status quo of Donbas could be maintained for many more years and, probably, it really could be maintained, but russia did not want that.
Now I'm in Luhansk, mostly just trying to avoid local mobilization and take on some small tasks as a freelancer to earn at least something.
About a week ago, my grandmother, who lived in Severodonetsk, managed to evacuate to Luhansk. There was no contact with her for about a month and a half, so I am glad that she is alive and well, and managed to escape from the nearly destroyed city. We can only guess what will happen to her apartment. I don't even know what to think about my future in such conditions. Finding a job as a journalist while living in Luhansk is quite difficult. Some employers refuse because they need a Ukrainian cell with connection, which doesn't work here, some simply end the dialogue after hearing that you are in Luhansk.

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