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  • Фото автораNataliya Gumenyuk

One year on, Ukrainians are full of anger and a sense of duty. But the overriding feeling is guilt

During the first months of the Russian invasion, in one of the frontline villages in the southern Kherson region, I met several firefighters – ordinary Ukrainian men in their 40s or 50s. Their prewar tasks involved putting out fires in the local wood or occasionally buildings.

Since the Russian invasion, they save houses burning from missiles and retrieve their dead neighbours. One of the men began to cry during our conversation. He left embarrassed, but shortly returned. I comforted the firefighters, explaining that even governors and mayors sometimes sob during interviews.

In the following months, I travelled from one frontline town to another. I met doctors, policemen, railway and communal workers, journalists, electricians, civil servants, government officials whose relatives are fighting and dying in the army. They escaped or are still living under Russian occupation, their houses and apartments destroyed. They acknowledged that they were emotional, often angry, horrified, but driven by a sense of duty. In the end this would help them move forward, and even be proud of what they did.

Read the full story on The Guardian here.


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