Live from the war in Ukraine: Kharkiv’s Universities, Cultural Landmarks and Residential Buildings are being erased 

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by our writers at the heart of the war in Kharkiv.


The unceasing bombardment of Kharkiv continues on its seventh day. For seven days, aerial and artillery bombardment has struck Kharkiv, tearing out bits and fragments of this city, one cultural landmark at a time. In the last two days, the missile strikes have targeted buildings that the people of this city know and value as part of our cultural heritage. The Regional Administrative building, untouched even in the horror of the Second World War was struck and reduced to nothing more than a twisted and crumpled testament to the Russian State’s strikes against our city. The night time bombardment and artillery strikes struck schools, people’s homes in the residential districts, and during the day, it struck the VN Karazin Medical University. 

A city is not merely the habitation of a large group of people. It is a cultural heritage around which our identities form. Indeed, the effort to break, erase and destroy the very cultural heritage of our city is an effort to erase our existence as a people. These are not mere buildings of brick and stone, cobbled streets and walkways, these are the backdrops of our lives, intersecting in this point in time, where the constant aerial bombardment of these cultural landmarks kills civilians and displaces our idea of our city. There are fires in people’s homes, who now have to shelter elsewhere if they are lucky, because shelters are being struck by missiles too, such as the Studentskiy shelter which was struck earlier today. 

The scars of war on this city’s boulevards and avenues will never truly heal. The largest square in Europe, the Freedom square in Kharkiv, famous for a Queen’s concert in 2008, and personal to the lives of so many of us in Kharkiv for the thousand things that we do as people, is now only the site of the ruins of the Regional Administration Building, itself a cultural landmark. The Regional Administrative Building withstood the horrors of the Second World War, but could not withstand this direct assault on our peoplehood who supposedly come to us as liberators. Here, in Kharkiv, our culture, our lives, our memories are now fragments and debris. 

As night falls over Kharkiv, the curfew begins and we begin our routine. What else will remain by sunrise? Will we? Each time there is silence on the other side of our phones, we send out messages to our loved ones, and those are the messages that become part of our daily conversations, both said and unsaid. The civilian death toll has only risen and continues to rise, the missile strikes come closer, and with them, the ordinance used becomes heavier, more sophisticated. Our schools where our children once studied, our cultural landmarks where we stood in awe at our shared history, our homes where we now hide, are all being erased, one airstrike at a time. May the world never forget. 

About the authors

Dr. Lolita Matiashova is an Internist and a PhD candidate in the L.T. Malaya Therapy National Institute of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine. During the siege she has remained in the city offering physical and remote medical consultations to patients from all over Ukraine 

Aparajeya Shanker is an Intern Physician at Medical University Pleven and the Director of the Standing Committee on Public Health. He can be reached at http://www.aparajeya.com

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