It was early morning on 16 April – Easter morning. The most celebrated, the most awaited, the most honoured and dearly beloved holiday in Ukraine.
A day filled with love for family and friends, beautiful traditions and the most gorgeous, tastiest food in the world. My family here in South Africa was still asleep and I was sitting staring at this photo of someone’s Easter basket.
A traditional Ukrainian basket of Easter sweet bread and eggs that someone was bringing to church to be blessed, to later share with family, now lay on the ground. An Easter basket and a Ukrainian, both on our ground on their very last Easter. Killed by Russia on this holy morning.
As of now, the number of our civilians Russia has killed on that holy night is unknown. The confirmed are two teenage boys, both born in 2005.
That night they heavily bombed Nikolaivska, Zaporizhska, Kharkivska, Khersonska, Sumska and Chernihivska districts. All are close to, or on the border with Russia. The two young boys who were killed were from Snigurivka in the Mykolaiv district. Russia literally rained C-300 missiles on this small town on Easter night – a minimum of 12 missiles were launched at civilians.
Russia also staged another “Ukrainian attack” on Donetsk. Nothing new; they’ve been spreading this disinformation for years. We have dozens and dozens of videos, with locals saying they hear the missile launch and the target is hit within a minute – meaning there’s no way Ukraine did it.
That Easter night was the same – the launch took place from the southeast, the occupied part of Donetsk, and miraculously, multiple Russian journalists were right there on the site.
Russia only embraced religion because they concluded that, if it’s used correctly, it’s another great way to control the masses.
Absolutely nothing new – good, old, poorly made Russian propaganda. Since Putin never held a smartphone in his life and would not know how to watch a video online to save his life – the propaganda has to be enough for people who were blissfully unaware of the power of technology.
A few weeks ago, Russian propaganda put out a video of “Ukrainian soldiers threatening a Ukrainian woman with a child in her car”. In just a couple of hours everything on that video was debunked – and people even found, by matching the trees, that everything was filmed on occupied territory. Who was that for? Putin and his hoard, who haven’t evolved enough to understand satellites and Google Maps.
So, it was the morning of Easter, we all were going to get ready and go to church soon. Did you know that the word for “Easter” in Ukrainian is “Velykden”, meaning “Great Day”? Honestly, it always was. Even when it was forbidden to celebrate it, we managed to follow our traditions.
I was born in the time of the demise of the USSR, but my parents lived through times when Easter, church and religion were forbidden. Back then, kids who came to school after Easter would have their hands checked for paint stains – if you had some paint on your hands it meant you’ve painted eggs and your family celebrated Easter, which was unacceptable to the communist regime.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Russia is trying to erase Ukraine’s identity — but we will protect and preserve it
Children would be immediately sent home and parents reprimanded at their jobs. Later on, Russia only embraced religion because they concluded that, if it’s used correctly, it’s another great way to control the masses.
When the $40-million church for their military – the soon-to-be war criminals – was being built a few years ago, the photos of one of its huge mosaics were leaked. The mosaic featured Putin, defence minister Shoigu, several other Russian officials, soldiers holding a portrait of Stalin and images glorifying the Crimea annexation.
After those images were made public and the world gasped in disbelief, they ditched the idea and got rid of the mosaic. (If you want to see those photos there are a lot of them still online.)
This whole week, the Holy week, was heartbreaking for every single Ukrainian. Our happy days, dedicated to preparing for the celebration of Easter, filled with laughter, joy and happiness, seem so far gone and unreachable.
Read more in Daily Maverick: After more than a year of Putin’s war, we must talk about death and global hunger
Every day of this Holy week was so unimaginably hard. Two more horrifying videos and a couple of photos of Russians torturing and killing our soldiers were made public. This isn’t the first time. This won’t be the last. These terrorists love torturing people and their terrorism will blossom and spread until we collectively put a stop to it. I’m purposely not saying what those videos were. I’m so horrified for everyone who watched them.
I don’t know how and when a day will come when I won’t think about those boys. My heart goes out to their families and friends, I’m so overwhelmed by sadness and I’m eternally grateful to them. As a nation, we have spent this Holy week in prayers for their beautiful souls, and thanked them for protecting us. DM