He is 56 years old and he has lived in Moshchun all his life. He now lives in the neighborhood - the house has been destroyed too much to be used as housing. However, he hopes for its restoration - butfirst, he must wait for a commission, that will inspect the house and provide a report which will enable him to obtain compensation from the government in the future.
o I have been building it for my whole life, – says Valentyn while calmly looking at the ruins of his house.
The house of his friend is nearby. Destroyed even more. Valentyn advises us on which street to go next - because there are two alabai running on the other.
Until the commission arrives, Valentyn helps repair the roofs and fences of the neighbors. He says that a lot of people have returned to Moshchun, there is work to do.
Indeed, from the very morning, the village still looked deserted, but now there is someone on the streets to say “good afternoon" to. Cyclists and cars pass by. Someone has already run into a fragment of a missile and is repairing a wheel.
Pieces of rockets are everywhere, they look like gutters. Everything is sooty, including the local cats that follow us. At every step there are funnels, in the wood on the side there are broken trees, and there are no surviving buildings.
Russians tried to capture Moshchun to advance on the capital. But they couldn't - the 72nd brigade of the UAF fought them back.
We move along one of the streets and look for someone else to talk to.
· No, I will not! I have 5-6 delegations a day, I do not have time to do anything because of them! - shouts an elderly woman, who is working in her yard.
· Hello! – a guy said to us (most delegations of journalists are mostly foreign).
And in two steps we meet Zinaida. ‘Aunt Zina from the shop - as she says about herself because she has had her own business - a shop for 40 years.
· I stayed in Moshchun until 6 March, then it became impossible to be here. It is simply impossible: the shelling was such that you can't go to the toilet - something hit all the time. Come on, I'll show you what funnels I have in the garden.
Zinaida leads us to the yard, in the middle of which is a really huge funnel. The house was destroyed. There is a barrel of water on the fire in the yard - there is still no light, gas, or water in Moshchun.
· I have three such funnels in my garden, and my neighbors have four. They died – he was thrown by a wave all the way across the road. And she was found dead in the cellar. Do you see this funnel? Tell me, can anyone get out of this pit? Can anyone survive such a shell? - woman speaks quickly and cheerfully, and almost all the time tears run down her cheeks. Zina doesn’t care about it.
She shows us where the neighbor's harrow lies - across the street from us.
· He was lying there, where his harrow is now. But earlier he had a harrow hanging in the barn - I'm his neighbor, I know the places where he kept his things. It was thrown away so far by the explosion. I'm not taking away that harrow, maybe his son will come, I'll show him.
· I’m so sorry about grandpa and grandma, - says Zinaida. - Children wanted to take them out, and the grandfather said: "I will not go." Granny, maybe if they would have pulled her out, she would have survived. She was found dead near the exit from the cellar. I think she just suffocated from the smoke. Maybe she couldn't open the door because she was lying right on the doorstep.
The other day daughter-in-law came to bury her grandmother.
· She said that they went to Bucha for the body. There are four refrigerators with the dead. One refrigerator for 80 people. In three - the whole bodies are in one of them, and in the other one - composed of pieces. The daughter-in-law says they looked over three refrigerators until they found granny.
Like Valentyn, Zinaida left the whole house, and when she returned, it was already like that. The eldest daughter's house which is next door was also destroyed. But the main thing is that they managed to escape - she, her son-in-law, and the youngest daughter (the eldest daughter with a child left even earlier).
· My eldest daughter had a house on the other side. Brand new, made from scratch. They have been building it for years. I bought an oilcloth for their table in a new house, so beautiful, with lace. I said: children, when we will have your housewarming party, then we will put this oilcloth on the table. Now the son-in-law laughs and says: so where will you put the oilcloth? I say: in the middle of the yard.
I ask how they managed to get out under fire.
· We drove through the crofts. The son-in-law's house exploded, and the garage and the car remained intact. The son-in-law jumped out, grabbed the car and left as it was. He grabbed a bottle of vinegar, his wife’s kitchen scales, toilet paper, and a pack of salt. He comes to me and says: why did I take it? But I didn't take anything at all. I jumped out as I was - a coat, sneakers, put old pants and a blouse into the bag, to have something to change.
Tomorrow she will go to her family, but then she will return to Moshchun.
Zinaida has a shop in the yard - she fed the local territorial defense. After she left, russians broke into the village, broke the lock from the shop and, Zinaida says they took out all the vodka. They did not go far - locals say that our army met russians, so the stay of enemies in the village was short. However, russians killed some people.
Valentyn says that two men were shot dead in different parts of the village, one in front of his wife, and she was wounded. Several more people were blown up by mines. Zinaida remembers one man shot (later we will find his neighbors. - LB.ua), another guy was hit by a shell.
· It was on 4 March, right here. I heard his mother shouting. I told my daughter: run there! Because I can't run fast with my crooked paw. She run and brought his mother to me to reanimate her. Can you imagine a mother with her child torn in front of her eyes? She said: Zina, why should I live now?
Zinaida starts crying again. She says her daughter and other girls buried the remains of the guy’s body. Then there was exhumation and reburial.
Even worse than in the village, says Zinaida, it was in Dachi - in a country cooperative nearby, which was occupied by russians.
Zinaida says that neighbor Yuriy Ivanovych has been laying in his house wounded for ten days – he was afraid to leave. Russians shot him in his leg and arm.
At the end of our conversation, it turns out that Zinaida's two grandchildren serve in the UkrainianArmed Forces.
· But they don't tell me where are they now. They only say that they were moved somewhere.
Suddenly we heard a powerful explosion.
· This is probably demining, I assumed.
Probably, – Zinaida said. – It was so loud here yesterday, I almost died. I jumped out and shouted to my neighbor: Galya, what was this?! Queen of Heaven!
Zinaida remarks that at first children did not want to tell her that the house had been destroyed.
· So that I don't get upset. And I say, “Well, why should I be upset if it has already gone. Your mother is a strong woman.”
We go to Dachi, hoping to find Yuriy Ivanovych, whom Zinaida mentioned. But his house is locked.
There are far fewer people here and even more destruction. Light country constructions are strangely twisted because of shelling.
In a few minutes, a crowd of cats gathers around us (plus one cute dog), and I started to regret not taking the cat food.
Especially at the moment, when one of the neighbors releases the Cornish Rex from the store, where he has been locked nobody knows how long. And he – skinny and scared, jumps out into the street with frantic cries.
He hisses at the cats that are spinning around us, and with a bent back, without stopping the screams, retreats towards the forest. I hope he will reach a checkpoint and be fed there.
A car with a man and a woman is coming.
· Did you come to see how your house is?
· To look at the house of our friends, ours is not here. We’ll look and take some photos for them.
The couple walks down the street. They get the phone near the ruined building. Their friends were unlucky. However, at least they are not here and did not catch russian occupation. In Moshchun they say, there were murders and rapes in Dachi.
Fortunately, we did not meet those two alabai. We returned to the village and went to Lidiya Mykolayivna. She is the only resident of Moshchun who did not leave the village even during the heaviest shelling.
The elderly woman is with her two sons today. Her house is relatively intact - it's like relative security. In fact, it is seriously damaged, but there is a roof and walls.
· Let’s say it is intact, - Lidiya Mykolayivna says. - It was torn off here (points to a closed hole under the roof). That was, yes, God’s mother. And I was in the cellar then.
Entrance to the cellar on the left
Several burned houses are nearby. To prevent the fire from reaching her yard, Lidiya Mykolayivna flooded the fire with water.
· My well saved me. Generally, there is no water in the village. I heard it flying. If it fell far, I don't prepare water. And if it fell nearby and I see that the neighbor's house is on fire, then I start pulling out buckets and getting water. As my neighbor was on fire, I prevented a fire in the house three times.
She says that while extinguishing the fire, she burned her cheeks.
· I am one and a half meters on the heels, and the fire is three meters. And the neighbor put on oak sheathing boards, and the heat from them is quite intense. I flooded a bucket of water on fire - as much as I can get. First, poured the bucket, and then half a bucket to get a little higher, and then poured one-third of the bucket.
It is not so easy for Lidiya Mykolayivna to recall what day it was.
· I had no clock, the phone didn’t work. I lookув, there are military with ribbons on their sleeves. I shouted, "Guys, it's me!" I opened the door and asked, "Guys, tell me what time and what day is it".
She says that at first, she did not realize that she was left alone in the village.
Wasn't it scary to stay?
· What had I supposed to do? Our military wanted to take me out twice. I said: “Guys, I’ve got two dogs and chickens. I fed those chickens, and now I should leave them to the dogs to tear them apart? No, I will stay. You do your job, and I will do my job - hide in the cellar”.
· Chickens and turkeys ran around the gardens, cows and pigs walked with them, and dogs were with them too. Now everything is more or less in order. One cow left by the owner died. The house has gone, so has the cow, - Lidiya Mykolayivna explains.
Lydia's eldest son approaches us and reminds us to tell about Slavik.
Slavik was the name of a neighbor who was shot dead by russians in a cellar. He had been lying in that cellar for about two weeks until neighbors found and buried him. Then there was exhumation, examination, and reburial.
The house where he lived with his parents and brother was also badly damaged. However, it is clear that it was a beautiful house. Beautiful garden, beautiful cellar. Lidiya Mykolayivna shows where there was a grave near the cellar.
The cellar in which russians shot Slavik, and his first grave
As soon as we are going to leave, Lidiya Mykolayivna’s youngest son says that we missed the most interesting thing today - in one of the yards they found dead moskals who had been lying there since the assault attempt.
· Have they already been taken from there? Did you call the military?
· Yes, we called, we don't touch anything ourselves. They plant mines around the bodies of their soldiers, can you imagine?
Now yes, we imagine. Loud demining explosions can be heard from the field. Zinaida recalls the Queen of Heaven again, apparently.