War diary (part 3): "This year's victory was sad and dull."
The Signpost

Eyewitness Wikimedian, Vinnytsia, Ukraine

War diary (part 3)

Contribute  —  
Share this
By George Chernilevsky

On his talk page on Commons, George Chernilevsky reports on the invasion of Ukraine from the city of Vinnytsia. Previously, we published parts 1 and 2 of his war diary. With George's permission, here is part 3.
There is always a "fog of war" and The Signpost is not in a position to verify all the facts as presented here. Any opinions stated here are George's, and we do not necessarily agree or disagree with them.
This article was intended to be published in the May issue. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, it is being published now, with some other additions. The Signpost team wishes to express our apologies for this delay.
We offer our condolences to George and his family for the loss of his youngest son.
E, J

A trip to Kyiv

Most importantly, we found the body of our son in the morgue. Many of the preliminary data were inaccurate or not correct at all.

My wife and I left on Monday. The journey by train instead of three hours according to the schedule took seven. On this day there were air raids on the railway just along our route. In Vinnytsia, they boarded the train to the sound of an air raid siren. There were very long stops just away from the stations. Then they learned in the news that there were air strikes on Zhmerynka and on Koziatyn in the Vinnytsia region. Five killed and eighteen wounded. We were just in Koziatyn at that time.

Kyiv looks very unusual. Shop windows and signs have disappeared, there are few people on the streets, but many checkpoints, anti-tank hedgehogs and shelters. The first floors of buildings are protected by sandbags.

The police department prepared all the documents for us. The most painful was identification by photographs. I did this myself to save my wife. These were shots after death. I was able to recognize my son's face in only one of the three shots: his head was smashed. But there was also a picture of a hand with a tattoo, so that killed any hope that maybe it was just a mistake. I asked why they didn't tell us, why we could only find our son through unofficial channels. Answer: “Our police officers went to the front line, to checkpoints and to patrol. There are just no people for work."

With the date of death, there is also confusion in different documents. The protocols were drawn up with a great delay, the police simply physically could not fill out everything at once. Therefore, there are four different options for the date of death. March 19 is the biometric identification date, so it was dropped. Then the police consulted among themselves and decided that the most likely date was March 4th. This date was eventually included in the documents, but we understand that this may not be accurate.

Things and documents were not found near the body, so identification was carried out by fingerprints. Ukraine has long introduced biometric European-style passports; fingerprints are taken upon receipt of the document.

According to a preliminary police report, the son had already been buried. With all subsequent questions, we were sent to the morgue, it’s good that at least they knew which one. We just hoped that this was an individual grave, and not a common burial.

The mortuary is a place of great human sorrow. A heavy cadaverous smell can be heard for a hundred meters. There are several large refrigerators in the yard - trailers without tractors, connected by cables to a power substation. At the morgue, we found out that there was an order to bury, but it was literally cancelled at the last minute as they had just found additional refrigerators. The queue for paperwork on death is about a day and the queue for receiving the body is two or more days. This is despite the fact that the morgue operates around the clock.

We spent the night in the apartment where I lived while I worked in the Kyiv office. The heating was turned off, it was cold, but these are trifles, it's just no one has been here for a couple of months.

Not far from the place where we lived, there is a high-rise residential building with a large hole from a missile. Five floors were broken, but in the evening the lights came on in some of the surviving apartments of this house. People live there too.

The body had to be taken later. We were warned that all the bodies are in poor condition, so only on-site burial in a closed coffin or cremation is possible. It is technically impossible to transport the body to Vinnytsia, even commercial funeral companies refused to do so. However, after the cremation, we will be able to pick up the urn with the ashes and bury it at the Vinnytsia cemetery, so we chose this option.

Before receiving the body, I once again had to go through identification, but not by photographs: in reality. Again, I went to the identification alone. I didn’t recognize his face at all, but I saw a familiar tattoo on his arm; our son invented it for himself and drew a sketch in Photoshop. So there were no mistakes. This is a wild state, when the hope arises in the soul several times: "But what if everyone was mistaken?".

Farewell was in a closed coffin, the funeral was at the Baikove Cemetery. There were only my wife and I near the open doors of a car adapted for a hearse.

After the funeral, the coffin was taken to the crematorium.

The urn with the ashes will be given out somewhere after May 10, it will be necessary to go to Kyiv again.

We saw only one of the morgues (there are six in Kyiv). And Kyiv is a relatively prosperous city. The situation in Kharkov is a hundred times worse - there are 22-25 shelling and bombing of the city per day. And Mariupol has generally turned into a lunar landscape of craters.
-- GC


Thank you all, friends.

I saw a lot of grief because of the war in other Ukrainian families. Yes, the story of our family is the most ordinary in this terrible time. There are families that have endured much more suffering.
-- GC

05.03.2022 - 69th day of the war

Air raid sirens and air defense claps were heard in Vinnytsia today. Two cruise missiles were shot down near Vinnytsia. Russian missile strikes were also on Lviv, Kirovohrad Oblast and for the first time since the beginning of the war on the Zakarpattia Oblast. Railroad trains are running late again.
-- GC

05.05.2022 - 71th day of the war

Today, captured Russian armored vehicles were brought to Vinnytsia for display. These are heavily damaged and charred vehicles that are no longer suitable for use in the army. Just an exhibition about modern warfare.
And again air raid sirens in Vinnytsia just now.
-- GC

05.09.2022 - 75th day of the war

May 9 is the day of celebration of the victory in World War II in the USSR and now in Russia. Traditionally, it should be celebrated in Russia on a very large scale. However, this year's victory day was sad and dull. I personally watched the full broadcast of this enemy parade. So, how was it different from a similar frenzy a year ago?

Some such equipment was captured as trophies in good condition and is already being used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Also, aviation was completely cancelled at the parade. Armed Forces of Ukraine have destroyed 199 planes and 158 helicopters by this day. Also typical, after the military parade, there should have been a demonstration of the civilian population with posters “1941-1945. We can do it again!" "To Berlin!", but not in 2022. However, in 2022 there is not even a hint of jubilation in Russia. No posters, no joy. Also, I did not see anywhere a new Russian swastika in the form of the letter "Z".

After the parade, Putin laid wreaths at the monuments of the Second World War. And at the same time, air raids on the cities of Ukraine began again. Now Russia uses very old Kh-22 missiles (1962 development), with very low accuracy and very poisonous liquid fuel engine. Seven explosions in Odessa just now. Air raid sirens also sound in Vinnytsia.
-- GC

18.07.2022 - 145th day of the war

Today Vinnytsia was visited by a delegation of EU and Israeli ambassadors, in particular, diplomatic representatives of France, Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark and Germany. In total, about two dozen diplomats came. These diplomats were able to see the site of the missile strike, the site of the Russian terrorist attack. --GC

In this issue
+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

Condolences to George and family for their loss. War is ugly. Hope it ends someday, somewhat, somehow. – robertsky (talk) 03:03, 1 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0