Siwersk is one of many places in Ukraine where life has become hell for residents. "We haven't had electricity or gas for three months," complains one resident. She has been living in her basement for a long time and can hardly stand this life anymore.
Lyudmila sits on a small ledge in the basement of a five-story apartment building in Siwersk and pits cherries with a pen refill. The basement has been her home for three months now and she can hardly endure this life anymore. In March, Seversk came under heavy shelling from Russian troops, then they were pushed back by Ukrainian forces. Since the Russian advance on Lysychansk, their home town has once again been in the line of fire.
"Three months ago the bombings came from here, now they're coming more from this direction," says the 66-year-old, pointing to a small street alongside the building. It leads to Lyssychansk, 20 kilometers away, the last major city in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk that is not yet under Russian control. The muffled bang of grenades can be heard constantly from there, white smoke hangs over the city on the horizon.
"There's bombing day and night," screams a woman who doesn't want to be named. With a handcart, on which two empty water canisters stand, she pulls on to the nearby well.
"We haven't had electricity or gas for three months," Lyudmila complains. As if to demonstrate, two women prepare potato pancakes in a pan that stands on two bricks and is heated by a wood fire. One of them uses a flashlight to show her "room": a basement room with two mattresses in the corner. At night they are laid out on the ground.
In the adjacent room, which is also gloomy, a 90-year-old leans on her walking frame. She urgently needs medication, but her family cannot find her anywhere. The last pharmacy in town has been closed for weeks, as have all other shops. According to one man, toilet paper is not available locally. It is far too far to walk to the nearest shop.
Lyudmila's home has been without windows since a Russian missile attack in March that completely destroyed the adjacent fire station. And yet her neighbor Vyacheslav Kompaniets continues to live in his apartment on the first floor. At the end of May, however, he too had to go to the basement after suffering a stroke. This was the only place he could be treated, while Lysychansk was under constant Russian fire.
Now the 61-year-old is back in his draughty apartment. During the summer he wants to defy the danger there, but when autumn comes, the only way to do that is with sealed windows. Kompaniez doesn't know how to do that.
Already he and his neighbors live from day to day without knowing what the next day will bring. And they hope that by the autumn the Russian war of aggression will be over.