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War in Ukraine: “I’m staying, even if I don’t know how to use a weapon”, in Lviv the inhabitants are mobilizing


It is surrounded by checkpoints where volunteers pile up sandbags in anticipation of the Russian offensive. Each crossroads is put in order of battle by young and old, some in uniform, others in civilian clothes. Some carry Kalashnikovs, others simple shotguns. The center of Lviv, the only city in Ukraine listed as a UNESCO heritage site, bears on its finely chiseled facades the influences of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the memory of its Jewish ghetto, all of whose inhabitants were exterminated by the Nazis. .


Lviv residents making camouflage nets for the army in the city’s central square.

Roland Bartezko

Those who remain

Dmytro was born in Lviv, a doctor by training. “I haven’t exercised a day in my life, it’s too badly paid, I’m in business, I sell products manufactured in the United States but my last shipment was destroyed at the airport by the bombings just before it is transported. We lost everything but it’s only money. Things have become much more serious here, I sent my wife and two daughters to the countryside in a village five kilometers from the Polish border and even if they are bored there, I am not going to bring them back. »

Dmytro continues: “The queue in the direction of Poland is already several tens of kilometers long, so if the evacuation of the city begins, it will be worse. Like all Ukrainian men, I can’t leave the country, so I stay here, even if I don’t know how to use a weapon. We saw a lot of refugees arriving from the east of the country, they didn’t behave very well, some were drinking or acting as if they were on vacation! The bars have been closed, that’s a good thing, but as you can see, it’s almost normal. There aren’t many shops open, a few products are starting to run out, but that’s it. »

By helping the army

The ex-doctor has decided to stay no matter what. And as he has prepared for his family’s possible passage to Poland, he is a little more serene but remains concerned. “I don’t know what will happen. I was not a big supporter of President Zelensky but I recognize that he knows how to find the words to galvanize us. When the Russians destroyed the Antonov-225, the world’s largest plane nicknamed the dream, he said: ”We lost our dream but we will rebuild it.” I thought it was great! »

“It is better to leave while there is still time, our diplomats must take care of our passage in Poland”

Lviv did not go to war, but it is nonetheless palpable. Young people on the central square which adjoins the rue de Russie, make camouflage nets. Alexander, suspicious at first, lip service consents to express himself. “I’m from Kharkiv and we’re all volunteers to help build whatever our army needs. A little further on, soldiers in combat gear, hooded and loaded weapons, empty a truck. The trams are operating normally and people are going about their business.

Quiet “for now”

In Lviv, Indian medical students awaiting repatriation to Warsaw and then Delhi.

In Lviv, Indian medical students awaiting repatriation to Warsaw and then Delhi.

Photo Roland Bartezko

In front of the monument to the Ukrainian dead of 1941-1945, a group of Indian medical students are waiting for the bus which will evacuate them, they hope, to Warsaw then Delhi. Madhavendra Singh, who has been studying in Ukraine for three years, says: “Everything is calm here for the moment, but it is better to leave while there is still time, our diplomats must take care of our passage to Poland. »



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