Ukraine Stories: Censorship, cheating husbands and unsustainable sirens: In Ukraine, “it’s the world upside down”

This text comes from the “Ukraine Stories” project launched by the English-speaking partner of “Time” Geneva Solutions, which deals with international Geneva. It is about supporting and publishing the work of dozens of Ukrainian and Russian journalists who have lost their job or their media but not their know-how.

A crowdfunding campaign covered the first two months of the project. If you want to support him for the future, contact us by email at info[at]

“At the start of the war, even though you could hear the missiles and shells, the Ukrainian army intercepted them and I felt safe. So I stayed,” testifies Kira. The young woman works in a pharmaceutical warehouse. While prices have exploded since the start of the war, his salary has not increased: the countless orders canceled and the closure of many pharmacies complicate the economic situation of his business. “The Russians bombed a very important warehouse early in the war. Since then, there has been a shortage of the products needed to manufacture drugs and prices have soared,” she explains.

Since the start of the war, Kira has been doing activities so as not to sink into depression. It is neither his salary nor the war that affects him the most, but the new mores.

Cheating Husbands

“Many mothers and their children have taken refuge abroad where they live in precarious conditions. During this time, some husbands who remained in Ukraine cheat on them with new companions. It’s absolutely filthy,” says Kira, who was approached by men whose families she knows.

“There are also downsides to the medal, she continues, like this refugee in England who fled with the father of her foster family after two days”. All this shakes him deeply. “It’s the world upside down. We would all need to consult a psychologist,” she says, hoping that sociologists will look into the subject to better understand where a society at war like Ukraine is going.

“A lot of information is not disclosed”

Apart from the infidelities of the men who remained in the country, Kira is also shocked by the censorship. While donating blood to support injured soldiers, Kira says she chatted with a friend who works at a military hospital. “He mentioned that his establishment had received a dozen Russian soldiers who suffered from trauma related to their captivity in Ukrainian prisons. Then he abruptly stopped and said, ‘maybe we shouldn’t talk about this because we’ll never be able to verify what happened or read this information in the press, right?’” explains the young woman. Kira says she can no longer find detailed information in the Ukrainian media. According to her, the war provided a pretext for the authorities to get rid of the opposition. Two TV channels associated with former President Petro Poroshenko have recently been censored.

“A lot of information is not disclosed, such as the recent cut in the signal of the Espresso and 5 Kanal channels. They are now only accessible on YouTube or with a decoder. People follow more than the official news and the opposition is almost non-existent”, explains Kira.

“I don’t even react to sirens anymore”

Meanwhile, many Ukrainians are returning home and trying to act as if nothing has happened, even if it is impossible, Kira judges. “It looks like the new rich driving in luxury cars through empty streets, while the sirens of air attacks continue to sound,” she laughs. I shyly tell him that, having lived abroad for many years, I have never heard these sirens. “They are unbearable and ring out several times a day. And again, there aren’t that many where I live, but I hear the ones on the other side of town. I don’t even react anymore, which is really terrible.” Kira explains that some people have also downloaded an app to their phones that sounds an alarm whenever the sirens sound. “It’s even worse,” she said. She decided to delete this application from her mobile phone. “I can finally sleep and every morning I wake up happy to still be alive.”

To listen to Ukrainian aerial sirens, Click here.

Yana Sadivska is a Ukrainian journalist based in Europe. She writes under a pseudonym. Translation and adaptation: Aylin Elci

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