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'My hatred only grows:' Kyiv residents lament over their homes destroyed by Russian attack

by Daria Shulzhenko and Irynka Hromotska February 7, 2024 11:03 PM 6 min read
Resque service women evacuating a lady from her house. The residential building in Kyiv caught fire after the Russian army attacked Ukraine with missiles and drones on February 7, 2024. At least four civilians died, and more than 40 were wounded in Kyiv as a consequence of the attack. (Serhii Korovayny/The Kyiv Independent)
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Valentyna Savych, 70, was watching television in her single-room apartment in the capital's southern Holosiivskyi district when a powerful blast threw her off the couch.

"The balcony was wrecked, and all the windows shattered," Savych told the Kyiv Independent.

"At my old age, my home was destroyed," she said with tears in her eyes.

In the early morning of Feb. 7, Russia launched its latest large-scale attack against Ukraine, targeting Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv oblasts.

Out of 20 Shahed drones and 44 missiles, including three Kalibr cruise missiles and three Iskander-M ballistic missiles, that Russia launched against Ukraine, 29 missiles and 15 drones were downed, according to the Air Force.

The attack killed at least five people and wounded dozens. The majority of victims — four people — were killed in Kyiv after missile wreckage hit an 18-story building in Holosiivskyi district, the one where Savych lived.

Forty people were wounded in Kyiv as of 2:30 p.m., including a pregnant woman, according to local authorities.

Apart from the Holosiivskyi district, two high-voltage lines were damaged by missile debris in the Dniprovskyi district on the city’s east bank. In the larger Kyiv region, Russian attacks resulted in several damaged buildings, but no casualties were reported.

Although the air raid alert went off in the capital at around 6 a.m., the first loud blasts were heard about an hour later.

"I was so shocked that I did not even take my documents or the keys to my apartment," Savych recalls the first moments after the explosion.

With a sad look in her eyes, Savych looks at what used to be her home on the 12th floor.

What’s left of her balcony is black from the ashes. Through the broken windows, rescuers can be seen walking inside the building.

"My two cats are still there," Savych says as her voice starts to tremble.

She has been standing beside the building for hours, waiting for at least some news about her pets. By around 3 p.m., Savych has heard nothing about them.

She had a ministroke recently and had only begun to recover when Russia destroyed her home. Savych says she does not have any relatives in Kyiv, adding that her husband died years ago.

Although she was offered to spend the night at a local school that will most likely serve as a shelter for those who lost their homes in the attack, she says she would prefer to go back to her apartment, if allowed.

"I would sleep in the bathroom, covered in some blankets," she says, even if she knows it would be very cold.

"I really want to see my cats."

An atmosphere of grief prevails at the site. Many people are crying. Some stand in silence, hugging one another, as if feeling happy to see those who have survived such a brutal attack.

"My hatred only grows," Savych says. "How can this possibly be true…"

Kyiv resident Ihor Dziuba rushed to the site as soon as his friend's call woke him up early in the morning. His parents, local retirees, lived in the building that was hit.

Luckily, they were not hurt.

"There was a lot of smoke. A lot… And so much dust," he recalls arriving at the site. "They live on the 16th floor," Dziuba told the Kyiv Independent.

"I brought them to my home. They are pretty okay now but very shocked," he says.

Due to her poor health, his mother could not leave the apartment herself after the attack. She had to wait for the rescuers to carry her downstairs, according to Dziuba.

"My father went downstairs by himself while they were carrying her out," he says.

"Because my mother can hardly walk, they simply can not go downstairs for every air raid alarm."

It is yet not clear whether his parents will be able to return to the apartment in the near future.

"I went to the apartment to take some of their belongings, but we are no longer allowed to go there," Dziuba says.

Another local retiree, Stanislav Kulyk, stood near the building with tears in his eyes.

While he lives a few hundred meters away in a different apartment complex, Kulyk was among those who constructed the buildings in the neighborhood in the 1970s.

He says it hurts a lot to see what Russia did to the building and the people. Hours after the attack, his two younger daughters are still shaking in fear, Kulyk says.

"It's a huge tragedy," he told the Kyiv Independent.  

Note from the author:

Hi! Daria Shulzhenko here. I wrote this piece for you. Since the first day of Russia's all-out war, I have been working almost non-stop to tell the stories of those affected by Russia’s brutal aggression. By telling all those painful stories, we are helping to keep the world informed about the reality of Russia’s war against Ukraine. By becoming the Kyiv Independent's member, you can help us continue telling the world the truth about this war.

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.
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