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Olga Panchenko, 65, lives with about 20 other villagers in a basement fire in a house northeast of Kharkiv.

She travels only twice a day, climbing up to the six-story floor of the family flat, providing food for her husband and adult son.

READ: Grandfather Orthodox condemns Russia-Ukraine war

The spirit city of KHARKIV

Her husband had a stroke and was paralyzed on one side. Her son ‘fainted during an accident’ and had to undergo regular supervision if he got lost.

The men stuck in a flat, far away from Russian shells. They have no electricity or running water. The windows were broken, and the curtains hung from the sad window.

Saltivka, a suburb of Kharkiv’s No. 5 district, is now a spiritual city of dark ruins, playgrounds, unstable bodies of abandoned huts.

Olga Panchenko, 65, one of the few survivors living in front of a discridged checkpoint of Kharkiv standing in his room with his disabled child in their home on 27 March 2022. Saltivka, District number five, a poor lowlands of northeast Kharkiv, immediately bristled. with large tenement blocks. It is now a spirit city that has become a heap of ruins. Scattered lawns, playgrounds, unusual corpses of dark houses, damaged bombs.
Photo: Aris Messinis / AFP

SALTIVIKA AND KHARKIV clung to the front of the battle

Most of the locals fled the Russian airport without interruption – they all saved a few elderly, infrequent or disabled people. Besides, they had nowhere to go.

Russian troops have increased their full load on Saltivka, beating it almost daily since their invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Why here? Saltivka is closer to the black plateau of surrounding gardens than to the center of Ukraine’s second largest city.

But Ukraine’s air force was on the border at the start of the conflict and the Ukrainian army was firing on Russians recently.

KHARKIV lived alone with his pets

Galyna Malakhova, 63, is one of the few people in the community who has not been evacuated. With her two dogs, Rita and Mafa go out for the day on her loft.

“Dark and cold here without electricity,” he says with a sigh, pulling his woolen coat close.

Sitting in a circle surrounded by beautiful pictures of orthodox images of letters, he remembers his escape from the battlefield that invaded the building. It smashed the front door and destroyed the water pipes in the street.

When there is a break in the minefield, he walks around the closed mattress in the mud outside his door to feed the local cats. They, in turn, have left their own hand.

“At first, I was angry. I now feel so much better, ”says Malakhova. “When the bomb went off I hid in the bathroom. I had no idea what was going on outside.”

Galyna Malakhova

Galyna Malakhova, 63, one of the few survivors in the frontline zone of Kharkiv standing at home with her two dogs on 27 March 2022. Saltivka, Zone 5, Poor district northeast of Kharkiv , has a large barrier. . It is now a ghost town that has become a wreck. Scattered lawns, playgrounds, unusual corpses of dark houses, damaged bombs.
Photo: Aris Messinis / AFP

SOME of the remnants of the spiritual city of KHARKIV hid under school.

Outside, there was a pause in the shooting. Two covered silhouettes are placed in the stairwell of the stairwell, in case anyone tries to escape the abandoned buildings.

A man was flying in the doorway of his basement, smoking in horror. Her eyes were red and tired.

It was dark and locked inside, in the classroom just a month ago. You have to bend down so you don’t plug your head into the heating pipe.

The form emerges in the darkness of candlelight. An old blind man in the backseat of a school, still looks like an idol. Styles in the blankets gathered on the school chairs.

Haggard and wan, the locals have not been outside for several days.

Vadim, one of the youths who is not found in the group, says: “We do not know where we are going or how we are going. Yevgen, 18, and her mother are sitting nearby, inadvertently beating their cat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack was necessary to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. But that does not wash away the people hiding under the roof.

“Where are the Nazis here?” an old woman was angry.

‘Thank you for each day we live’

There are 20 or more people living in the shelter. Some have managed to save a few possessions at home, but they depend on food and volunteers are willing to take risks.

When the power goes out, they light a fire in the basement to cook.

Two locals died when a rocket crashed in front of the school. Roman, 38, also a veteran, points to blood-stained walls on the sports wall.

Like Panchenko, others living in the basement have relatives who are trapped in their own home, weak or ill to climb the stairs. The lift stopped working last year.

Panchenko’s husband takes a short time to reach their flat door, but he slowly greets the guests.

“No, I do not. In any case, I can not go down quickly, so his voice goes out.

“We read day and night,” Panchenko says, “and appreciate every day we are still alive”.

People flee to the basement of the school where they lived for a month, on the front side of Kharkiv on 27 March 2022. Saltivka, Zone 5, a poor district northeast of Kharkiv, has a large obstacles. It is now a ghost town that has become a wreck. Scattered lawns, playgrounds, unusual corpses of dark houses, damaged bombs.
Photo: Aris Messinis / AFP

Ence Agence France-Presse / Hervé Bar

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