A timid return to a slightly more normal life in Kiev


In Fomin Park in the center of Kiev, the queue grows to take pictures under the newly hatched magnolias. A Ukrainian soldier authoritatively pushes his small unit – his wife and two children – under a rain of purple buds: “Smile!”

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After 51 days of warfare, from a walk in the park to the first drink on the terrace, Kyiv residents have massively taken advantage of the first bright day of spring on Friday to give themselves a bracket of almost normal life.

Nataliya Makrieva, 43, who slaloms between strollers, scooters and bikes, can’t believe it, arm in arm with her mother.

“It’s our first time returning to the city centre, we wanted to see how transportation works to attract the crowd. It feels so good to see all these people,” the vet says behind his sunglasses.

Lying on the grass, tons of soldiers in uniform smoking his pipe and staring at the blue sky. It is 21°C. Two battalion comrades, the twins, climbed the blooming walnut tree.

“For the first time after being sent to Irpin and Gostomel in more than a month, we can breathe and we’re here to enjoy this beautiful day,” says Dmytro Tkatchenko, one of the 40-year-old uniformed twins, a Donbass veteran. war in 2015.

Anna Grychko, who is 83 years old in three months, enjoys this view of life as if she were sitting in her armchair every day with her stylish wool cap despite the heat.

“Today people want to forget about war. But soon there will be bombardments and sirens again, and we will have to go back into hiding,” said the grandmother, passing these words in less than a second, without a smile, to tears.

After three weeks of relative calm, two Russian attacks were carried out on military complexes around Kyiv on Friday and Saturday. The Kremlin has been threatening to intensify its fire on the capital for several days.

Anti-tank brackets were placed on the roadsides. Sandbag and concrete block checkpoints are still there, but most soldiers are empty.

Billboards no longer post security instructions or messages about the Russian invader or his dreaded “infiltrators”, but patriotic videos.

The balance sheet of financial losses in the city remained limited. According to officials, between 24 February and 22 March, when the last intramural airstrike was carried out, 100 buildings were destroyed or affected by Russian airstrikes.

“War has many dimensions, and it’s not just about fighting. And Kyiv, of course, remains in a state of war, ”explains Alona Bogatchova, 34, allowing a first outing with friends, celebrated by a Spritz on the terrace.

“But on the other hand, there is so much life here, newfound freedoms. It is a unique situation that we do not know the name of, that we have not experienced yet,” sums up the young woman who rushed to finish her drink before the deadline.

In Kiev, the sale of alcohol is banned from 16.00 and the curfew lasts from 91.00 until 6 am.

Now among the things you can do in Kiev: deliver food, go to the hairdresser, go to the shopping center, take the metro, rent a bike or scooter.

Schools, universities, most restaurants and cultural or recreational sports facilities remain closed.

And the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, on Saturday urged those evacuated from Kiev – up to half the population of 2.8 million at the war’s peak – not to return to the city.

But according to local media, about 50,000 people return to the capital every day.