Before the war, Ira Lobanok was a musician in Lviv. Now she’s a volunteer and news translator. Here is her diary from Ukraine. Part one is available here.
Today is the 18th day of the war. Remember in my last piece I said we haden’t had air raids for the last three days? Well, the next night they resumed. The worst one was this morning, it started at 3:30am and lasted for a full three hours [editor’s note, this was written on 13 March, before the latest attack on Lviv].
Bombing of Ukraine: life in Lviv
It’s quite cold in the bomb shelter. You try to sleep, but it’s too cold, so you end up reading the news while being super sleepy and this doesn’t help either. When we left the shelter, we discovered that the bomb had hit the International Peacekeeping Centre, which is 40km away from Lviv and 20km away from Polish border. It resulted in 35 dead and 134 injured. It was the first strike to come that close to my city.
I hate that people became just numbers. Every day you look to see how many have been injured and killed, and the only consolation is when today’s numbers are smaller than yesterday’s.
The little wins make this new reality bearable – make me feel that I contributed a bit to our potential victory. When one of the volunteers asked to find a car to transport medical supplies from the border to the hotspot and I managed to do it quickly – that was a little win.
When my washing machine broke because of all the washing I do for the shelter daily and I managed to fix it myself – that was a little win. When I managed to put away my phone and lose track of the news for two hours to focus on translating an important article for international media from Ukrainian to English – that was a little win.
People volunteering in overwhelming numbers
Overall, I’m amazed at how quickly people managed to organise themselves and become useful in these hard times. I know volunteers who help transport people from hotspots to safe places; volunteers who cook food at railway stations to feed refugees who’ve been on the road for hours; volunteers who have turned their co-working space/library/gallery/studio into a shelter for refugees; volunteers who make masking nets for military purposes; volunteers who drive refugees and supplies around the country and more.
We even have an inside joke, that our volunteers can get anything, from a rare medicine to a unicorn horn if needed. It feels like an amazing synergy and a driving force that keeps our morale high. We have had so many people switch to volunteering that yesterday the president addressed us, saying that the ones who can work their regular jobs and feel safe to do so, should keep working to support the economy of the country, as part of the country is now basically switched off. So I’m trying to get back to work, which is not easy.
Challenging the claims that this is not ‘Russia’s war’
Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to translate a text by a Ukrainian professor about Russian collective responsibility for this war. Some people call the Russian invasion ‘Putin’s war’ or ‘Kremlin’s war’, or they say ‘Don’t blame Russian citizens – they are powerless against the regime’. Did you know that 71 percent of Russians support Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine? And even if they don’t pull the trigger themselves – they are still guilty under the principle of collective responsibility. The article says:
“People are guilty of crimes committed by the state because they are citizens of this state. Because any power in the twentieth century comes from the people. First, the people choose a political force or at least allow it to come to power because it promises to fulfil their wishes, obvious ones or unspoken. Secondly, if the government later starts committing criminal acts and the people do not oppose it, then they secretly approve of these crimes.
“Centuries of revolutions and beheading of the kings have shown that the people can overthrow any government if they wish. And that is why political guilt is collective: it is the citizens who have allowed the state apparatus to commit crimes. Even if they did not vote for this government, they did nothing to stop it. And here one can not hide behind the excuse – ‘I’m not interested in politics’.”
I really hope that ordinary Russian people realise that they have power and responsibility to stop the war sooner rather than later, and I hope more of my friends start appealing to their Russian friends to start acting. Because unfortunately I don’t have any Russian friends left, so I have no one to appeal to.