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The magazine of the photo-essay
February 2017 issue
When Ukraine is No Longer Ukraine
by Ioana Moldovan
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
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Ukraine is at war. This is the fundamental truth about the situation in this ex-soviet country. It has been going on for two years. 10,000 have been killed, another 21,000 wounded and over 1.5 million people have been displaced. This war costs Ukraine more than a country, already confronted with economic recession, can afford. The fighting in the East has been placed in some sort of quarantine, leaving other parts of the country seemingly unaffected. Because of this, the true impact of the conflict is far from being obvious. Still, thousands of families have fled their besieged towns, moved in amongst strangers and are confronted with the choice of whether to start afresh, rebuild their lives in a new place or to wait for the war to be over and the possibility of returning home. For some, the return home depends not only on the war ending, but also on its outcome. in the West of the country where there is relative peace, the consequences of war are still apparent. Returnee soldiers, who have spent most of the last two years on the front-line, are are returning to their home towns and finding life hard. Life on the front-line and life in peace are like two different worlds for soldiers. “I cannot adapt to peace, with friends that don’t understand war,” Aleksandr, a 30 year-old soldier that goes by the war name Grom (thunder), told me. “They call me a crazy man because I want to go back. But war is my job!” This two year old conflict has no forseeable end and that means Ukraine is also facing another tragedy; an epidemic of post traumatic stress.
Konstantin Bernatovich, 33 (war name: “Koha”), takes a moment of rest in one of the forward posts in Zenit, a Ukrainian army position on the front-line, 2 km away from Donetsk airport. Ukraine, August 2015.
Ukrainian soldiers surveilling the terrain in the trenches of a forward post in Zenit, a Ukrainian army position on the front-line, 2 km away from Donetsk airport. Ukraine, August 2015.
In Avdiivka, one of the hottest points on the front line since the Minsk II ceasefire agreement, the soldiers occupy what used to be a former apartment building, abandoned by mostly all its residents due to the conflict. Ukraine, August 2015.
Tatyana Latvhitis’ apartment in Svitlodarsk was hit by shelling on January 27th, around 14:00 hours. Now the family lives in a temporary rented room in the city. Ukraine, July 2015.
Ukrainian soldier with the 25th Airborne brigade doing pull-ups in the courtyard of the old recreation centre in Dymytrov where they have been stationed after months on the first line of the front. Ukraine, August 2015.
Wounded Ukrainian soldier doing exercises at Irpin Military Hospital, just outside Kiev. Here, Col. Dr. Vsevolod Stebliuk established a complex centre for physical and psychological rehabilitation of war veterans in Ukraine. Ukraine, Dec 15.
Ukrainian soldiers with the 25th airborne brigade watching the evening news in the courtyard of the old recreation centre in Dymytrov. After months on the first line of the war, they have been pulled back on the second line. Ukraine, December 2015.
Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers during an exercise at Wounded Warrior Ukraine’s PTSD seminar. The Wounded Warrior Ukraine NGO started organising trainings for extreme psychology and PTSD in order to train Ukrainian servicemen as Combat Shock Trainers. Ukraine, December 2015.
Ukrainian soldiers in the 25th Airborne brigade playing pool in the the recreation center in Dymytrov, where they are stationed at after months on the first line of the war. Ukraine, August 2015.
In the evening, Ukrainian soldiers in the 25th Airborne brigade bathe and wash themselves in the nearby lake of the recreation center in Dymytrov. Ukraine, August 2015.
Jenea, a 30 year-old Ukrainian soldier, recovering from his injuries at the Kiev Central Military Hospital. Ukraine, Dec 2015.
Vasili (left) as he guitar-plays his Kalashnikov on AC/DC's "Big Gun" song that plays on Oleh's (right) mobile phone in Zenit. Ukraine, August 2015.
Ukrainian soldier in the trenches in Zenit. The trenches on the frontline are used for cover, shelter and sometimes to connect different positions. Ukraine, August 2015.
The funeral of 48 year old Afghanistan war veteran, Oleksandr Shcherbaniuk in Chernivtsi, a western Ukraine town. Gone to support the revolution in Kiev’s Independence Square, he was killed, shot in the heart on February 20. At least 77 people died in Kiev on February 20 and 21, following a short-lived truce. Ukraine, February 2014.
Olga Ovsyanykova, 44 and her daughter Tanya, in their two room apartment in the Saint Mountains collective center for IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Sviatohirsk. They left their home in the Donetsk airport area, where electricity and water were cut and looked for safety in Syedove and then Novoazovsk before coming to this center. July 2015.
The rehabilitation centre at Irpin, provides, as a first in the country, an ergo therapy unit - therapy through physical effort and work - and an IREX (Interactive Rehabilitation and Exercise System) unit, using virtual reality. Dec 2015.
Maxim, 25 (centre front) is a Ukrainian veteran who went though the entire training of Wounded Warrior Ukraine and is now a seminar co-trainer. He lost his leg from below the knee in war and several months after he started being depressed, aggressive, rude to his mother. He could not sleep without painkillers and a simple word would be enough to set him off. Ukraine, December 2015.
Ukrainian soldier in one of the underground forward posts of Zenit. He says because of the concrete walls, it is quite safe underground. Ukraine, August 2015.