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Living under occupation and witnessing liberation: in the eyes of 7-year old Tymofiy

Living under occupation and witnessing liberation: in the eyes of 7-year old Tymofiy

As the liberation of Kherson city and the right-bank part of the region began on Nov. 11, 2022, residents of the liberated villages are finally able to speak about their experiences of living under occupation. Despite constant shelling and threat that persist to this day, they are happy to no longer be living under Russian occupation because to them, it was the worst time of their life. 

For the Kherson region residents, the only happy memory of the past nine months has been the liberation of their home by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. With it, came a physical change of landscape when Russian flags installed by the Russian occupying forces were replaced with Ukrainian flags. In Muzykivka, a village in the Kherson region, the first Ukrainian flag to be raised after the village’s de-occupation was in the village center, where a memorial stands  dedicated to the village’s liberationfrom Nazi occupation back in 1944. In 2022, Muzykivka was liberated by soldiers of the 59th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade, named after Yakiv Handziuk.

The village’s clinic is a true testament to the village’s resilience. It is the only place that continued to function during the village’s 9-month occupation. Despite continuous harrassment from Russian occupying forces, who would steal medicine and meddle in their work, Ukrainian nurses continued to fulfill their duties and work with their patients.  Symbolically, it was Tymofiy, the 7-year old son of Ruslana, one of the clinic’s nurses, who raised the Ukrainian flag on November 16, 2022, above the building together with the Ukrainian military. The military gave the go-ahead, saying it was a good sign for the future.

“Every day, I dreamt that the Ukrainian Army would come. I was very happy when I saw them in the center of our village. I wanted to raise the Ukrainian flag at my mother’s clinic, because all 9 months I was very worried about my mom when she went to work. I saw drunk Russian military and how armored personnel carriers were destroying shops in the village, and how Russian soldiers were shooting,” recalls Tymofiy with a trembling voice. Only 7 years old, Tymofiy has witnessed more violence in his life than most – as have thousands of Ukrainian children. 

Now, Tymofiy dreams of the war’s end, so that he can continue studying at school and meet his friends [During the occupation, children in the occupied territories could hardly continue their studies — editor].

The 7-year old boy’s voice trembles when he recalls each day of the past 9 months. But despite everything, he continues to believe in the victory of Ukraine. 

Text by Inga Vyshnevska

Designed by Nadiia Firman

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