‘She’s still lying in her bed’ Snapshots of how Russia’s war turned the lives of elderly Ukrainians upside down
According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, at least 221 children have been killed and 408 have been injured during Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine. These statistics are updated regularly. But data on how Russia’s war has affected elderly people in Ukraine doesn’t feature in the authorities’ daily reports. Meduza has compiled photographs that tell the stories of Ukraine’s elderly — including those who are still awaiting evacuation, and those who are unable or unwilling to leave their homes, despite the threat of bombing and shelling. This photo report also includes the text of a letter from Viktoria — a reader from the Luhansk region who wrote to Meduza about her grandparents.
On April 10, Meduza’s editors received the following letter in response to a call for readers to share their personal stories:
“My name is Viktoria, I’m from the city of Rubizhne [in the Luhansk region of Ukraine]. In 2014, we were forced to leave the city because of hostilities: my parents took me, my brothers, and sister to Russia. The rest of my relatives and loved ones stayed in Rubizhne.
Now, almost eight years later, I understand that what’s happening in the city can’t be compared to 2014. My father’s mother and sister were able to get out of Rubizhne a few weeks ago. They spoke of corpses in the streets; about how the courtyards of my city were turned into small cemeteries; about my next door neighbor who was also buried in the courtyard; about looting; about [their] destroyed building; about evacuation under constant shelling and crossing a destroyed bridge on the way to Starobilsk.
At the moment, my grandmothers are still in Rubizhne — Tatyana, who was born in 1951, and Evgenia, who was born in 1927, as well as my grandfather Vladimir (on my mother’s side), who was born in 1949. Two days ago we received a goodbye message that said their barn was on fire, that they were unable to carry Grandma Zhenya [Evgenia], and that they didn’t know if they’d be saved. They wrote: ‘Farewell.’ I don’t know if they’re still alive or if I’ll see them again.”
Later, in response to our questions about the fate of her grandparents, Viktoria wrote the following:
“Grandma Tatyana and Grandpa Vladimir escaped, they were able to evacuate on April 14. Grandma Zhenya is gone. She died of hunger and dehydration. She’s still lying in the house: in her room, in her bed.”
Translation by Eilish Hart