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Mariupol, point of no return. My 20 days of war. Part six

From We continue the series of diaries of Mariupol journalist Ivan Stanislavsky, who lived for 20 days in a city blocked by кussian troops and recorded everything that happened to him and Mariupol.

Photo: Mariupol city council

March 11th. Day 16

We woke up earlier than usual. Aviation worked all the night long, and around four o'clock we are woken up by three powerful explosions. We lie in complete darkness with our eyes open. From the vibration inside the basement all the air is filled with dust, breathing is quite unpleasant. Whitewash settles from the ceiling, and if you lie your face up, it gets into the eyes and causes tears. After sixth o’clock it becomes very loud in the market area. We hear tanks passing through the street. Then it becomes relatively calm.

It's snowing outside again, five degrees below zero. People are already cooking. At the entrance to the basement, the actor of the drama theater OA loudely tells tales. He spent the previous night in the basement, but then returned to the apartment with his wife. She fusses around him, he is constantly drunk and in resentment. He offers to join him drinking, but, despite everything, there is not the slightest sign of desire to drink.

Several cars were parked under the house, near the vault, and the one standing In the far end closer to the market received a wreckage. A flat iron the size of a hand palm stuck to the windshield, between the hood and the wing. It went rather deep - the speed was far too high. If it hit someone, it would probably break one into pieces.

The shelling is on its schedule, we are on our own. Combat tasks for every day – to light a fire, boil a kettle, cook food. At home I checked my weight - minus 3 kg, although I stand on weights dresses. Suddenly I recalled, that S. had left the keys to his apartment. I went to see what useful things I can take. Found a water heater full with water, flashlight, batteries and some of the products. I see that two of our tanks passed the avenue quickly. I move to a room facing the yard, because the armor can fly. I'm waiting, everything is quiet.

So, menu for today is - boiled eggs, baked potatoes, and for dessert - sparkling lollipops.

Photo: EPA/UPG

The cat has the best food provision. On the eve of the invasion we bought several promotional catfood packages. But either from stress, or maybe for other reasons, he almost does not eat. Became visibly thinner. Stayed 4 kilos instead of ustal 7 kg. You can even hold him with one hand.

While me and I. are collecting pots in the apartment to set on fire, there is an expolison somewhere in the neighboring yards. Close, but we understand that not too close for a real danger. The distance to the explosions already has its classification for us: somewhere so far that we do not pay attention; close but safe; potentially dangerous; critically dangerous. It has emerged intuitively, but is interpreted almost unmistakably. Explosion, everyone run out of the flat to the block - the third category. Explosion, all to the ground - the fourth.

I go outside, the neighbors are spinning in the parking lot. Did it really hit? There's also my car. There are three cars on the site. The brand new sixth "Mazda" has a chicken egg sized hole in the rear window. The wreckage pierced the console and got stuck in the back sofa. KIA has got the bumper cut. And mine didn't get any scratches! Was I lucky again? I take the tape out of the trunk, help the neighbors to glue together pieces that can be assembled. The owner of the "Mazda" O. says that the car is a little more than a 1year old. He lived in Sartana, had some kind of transport business. Obviously, a wealthy man. He says that when he bough a new cart, he was happy as a child. And now he understands that it's just a pile of iron that should save him.

The plane is bombing the city all the day long without any obstacles. We do not have any air force or air defense. As evening comes chaotic artillery shelling from both sides starts. Our guys in the tilted truck are still hitting the enemy from the wasteland and dissolve In the air. The reverse fire is becoming more powerful, but still in vain.

The intensity of the shelling is growing, and around five o'clock we are forced to go down to the basement. According to rumors, the occupiers seized 17 block of flats and hospital, and tomorrow will start a determined attack. The end of the house in which our shelter is, goes to the crossroads. Corner windows are a good position to control both roads. If the militaries will equip a firing point over our heads, where to flee? I hope this won’t happen.

You can only wait in the shelter. You can invent some things to distract yourself, but the background expectation is always there. Some are waiting for spring, some – for the morning to come, some – for the end of the war. And someone is waiting for the bomb to come and kill everyone. This is how the place is arranged.

Photo: EPA/UPG

March 12. Day 17

Around four o'clock sounds aviation woke us up. At sixth mortar started to shoot the streets, Something had fallen somewhere near the Road intersection.

Today, for the first time, I had a night dream. In my dream I was in Odessa buying vinyl, for some reason choosing death-metal. I never listened to such a music, probably a reflection of these terrible days.

You get used to life in the basement. It seems like it will last forever and never end. Surprisingly, this thought is not scary anymore. Not that it does not scare, but somehow does not cause any emotions.

I managed to get out of the basement only after ten. It’s cold - minus three. There are always planes in the sky, but today they are bombing something far away from us. While I'm picking up the kettle in the apartment, noise is coming from the stairs. I look out of the door, a neighbor on the fifth floor pulls a refreezer up with someone! The camera is looks like as it is from the ATB shop. Here wa are! They really hope they can use it.

I'm coming down, people are running past our yard. I'm trying to ask what's going on. Half a word from each - and the following picture emerges: the Azov tank arrived in the area of the ”Dzerkalny” supermarket; the militaries said there would be a fight now and everyone had to flee. This piece of news is stressful. We are too close to the "Dzerkalny". If the fight starts, the probability that it will affect our block of flats is very high. I drive I. out of the apartment into the basement and notify the neighbors. I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, because it's not too good to stay without water.

An hour passes before the firefight begins. The tank is heading west, enemie are trying to shoot it with a mortar. Something is burning. But I guess from the sounds that the tank happily leaves the position after passing italian street.

The mortar fire continues, strikes the residential areas, but there are no hits into our yard. Today we were lucky and some were not. Tomorrow may be the opposite. I continue to cook.

I notice O. near the "Mazda" New cracks appeared on windshield caused by exposions. We need tape again, I suggest gluing the windshiled completely, because it can fall out. Being busy, we do not notice a man approached from behind. A fat man with gold rings on his fingers is wearing a sheepskin coat. Suddenly he begins to tell that the Jewish friends from Odessa told him to go abroad on February 20, but he did not listen to them. Jews are wise people, and he, as a complete fool, is now sitting here, hoping that his car will not burn down and he will be able to escape.

Spontaneous conversations begin and end spontaneously. His words are interrupted by the whistling of a bomb: we fell on the ground immediately, he fells somewhere aside. Something has fallen nearby. We look at each other, lying near his car.

In the basement I go again for a session of evening gossip. It is said that Azovstal was burning for three days, the Ilyich plant stayed intact, as welle as the port. There was no detemined attack that was promised yesterday. They say because of "Azov". If the occupiers are afraid of anyone here, it is the Azov Regiment. In principle, we can agree with this. Of all the units, the Azovs have always been the most motivated and uncompromising. Many of them are natives of Mariupol, some of whom I know personally. One is a biker-hooligan, the other is a guitarist-partygoer, the third is a festival-goer, a lawyer, a football hooligan, a Foxtrot salesman, and an amateur actor. None had anything to do with any ideology. I think they just hated those who tried to ruin their lives. Together they formed a "Nazi" battalion and frightened the entire russian army.

My thoughts are interrupted by a drunk girl. She puts a bottle of wine in my hands and solemnly says: “Help yourself! „The Wines of the World” store has been smashed.”

I turn on the flashlight to see – Californian red wine, merlot. It gets ridiculous. I show a bottle to I. I recall that a few days before the war she said she wanted to taste American wine. Well, another dream came true. First we had a long picnic with food on the fire, and now the wine was served. It is a pity that her dreams are coming true in such a weird perverted form. We agree that she stops to dream.

Photo: Mariupol city council

March 13. Day 18

Morning, six o’clock, a traditional mix of shots and explosions. So I want to wake up from the pounding of rain on the windowsill, not from this. The plane again drops bombs in the area of the AC-2 and 23 block. We are staying in the basement, for it is still dangerous to go out. People scold Zelensky - he recaptured all the cities, and Mariupol is abandoned alone. No information, no mobile net signal. Some say that Mariupol was given the status of a city-hero. It looks like the award will be granted after death.

I go outside to cook lunch. Somewhere around noon, six bombs fall into the yard across the Road behind me, cars are burning, a column of black smoke rises much higher than the roofs. I stick out a little bit from around the corner. The enemy tried to aim at the former kindergarten building. In recent years, it stood empty, and now there was nothing. Why to shoot there? God knows. As usual, most of the shells did not hit the target, and the bombs hit the apartment building and the yard. Obviously, there were people injured, but how can I help?

A little bit later they hit our side. So, our turn. Somewhere a hundred meters away in front of my house there is also a kindergarten. It was also empty for long time, closed for renoovations for several months. When we hear the whistling, we reflexively realize that it is too close, and we rush to the block with the neighbors.

The first explosion catches me at the door. The shock wave breaks the glass in the block when I run. The window frame falls on my head, raining me glass fragments on top. Nothing serious, a big bump on his head, glass cut my hat and jacket sleeve. This time I was lucky enough.

A down padding comes out of the jacket and flies around us along with the airflow.

The occupiers are deliberately beating kindergartens and other public institutions. Why? There is no even an absurd hypothesis about this.

I.was in the apartment all this time. When I'm done with cooking, I go up to her. We collect a package of food but suddenly we understand that the familiar mortar volleys are heard from the market. There will be a response soon. So we move from the windows to the corridor in advance.

Photo: EPA/UPG

We are sitting at the door on stools, when two explosions of terrible power are heard almost simultaneously. The floor below us starts to shiver, as if an earthquake had started, everything was buzzing around, Book barricades are falling from the window-sills, sounds of broken glass falling is heard in the street.

The first thought was that something had hit the house. There may be a fire, we need to get out. But I. clung to me so firm that I could not stand up. I can barely calm her down a bit. We need to understand the situation faster, maybe we have only a few minutes. I look out - a miracle, all the windows in the apartment are intact. In the entrance, on the contrary, everything was taken out together with the frames, the stairwells were littered with beaten glass and wrecks. It is unbelievable how plastic windows are resistant to explosion waves! The house is not on fire, that's good. Two air bombs fell somewhere near the market.

There was panic in the shelter. So much dust rose up thanks to the tremor that it became impossible to breathe, people began to go outside. It is good that there were no more blows.

Again, the purpose of this bombing remains unclear. No military targets were hit. I am sure that in the evening the tilt truck will come to its place again. Definitely: from here you have to go to Kalmius district. Today was obviously the worst day, but what will happen tomorrow?

I am surprised by my own reaction to all this. I did not expect myself to be such cold-blood. There are no emotions at all. I ran out of them. Bombs are flying around, and I'm throwing firewood, otherwise this kettle will never boil. Bombs are falling - I'm writing a diary. Am I afraid to die - no. Rather, I am afraid that I will not be kill at once and I. will suffer with me as well. This very thought brings me to life and forces me to be more careful. Some completely inadequate perception of the situation.

Photo: EPA/UPG

Ivan Stanislavskyy, Mariupol correspondent
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