The plight of Ukraine, through Kurkov's words

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Queue in front of a gun shop in Lviv | Photo: Kurkov

Andrey Yuryevich Kurkov, an Ukrainian novelist, who is currently in the war-torn Ukraine, shares his dreadful and panicking experience from there with Mathrubhumi.

1. First of all, we hope everything is in a way already better for you and your family. How was your life in the last 24 hours?

Two days ago, we reached a safe place in Lviv, Western Ukraine. We live with friends. I am constantly in touch with colleagues and friends in different cities. As president of the Ukrainian PEN Club, I participate in the work of our writers' organization. All work is done online. We prepare information about what is happening in Ukraine in different languages, help foreign journalists, and hold discussions in English on Facebook. The other day I myself took part in a discussion about the war with the President of PEN England, writer and international lawyer Philip Sands. He is just a specialist in genocide and crimes against humanity. I think that after the war in Ukraine he will have a lot of work.

2. Of late, there has been talk in the press that Ukraine has resisted the Russian invasion in a surprising way - your view on your hometown?

I am no longer in Kyiv, but every day I talk on the phone with friends who have stayed in the city. Their mood is different. Someone refuses to descend constantly into bomb shelters and, just in case, said goodbye to friends. But these are the minority. More people are involved in territorial defense or volunteer work. A lot of Kievans help elderly residents who cannot or are afraid to leave their homes. They deliver bread and other products. Many cafes feed volunteers and those in need for free.

3. How are the citizens holding up?

Thanks to the success of the Ukrainian army, the mood of my friends and acquaintances is positive. They believe that Ukraine will be able to defend its independence. There was no panic before the war, and there is none now, although more than 2,000 civilians have already died from Russian bombs and missiles. Among them are foreigners - an Indian student in Kharkov and an Israeli citizen who was shot by Russian soldiers near Kyiv.

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