Underground

Ongoing conflict in Ukraine between separatists and the Ukrainian government army led the country to the full-scale hostilities. There always at least two armed fighting sides in any war. For me as a human the most important side in this conflict was the third one – ordinary civil people. Disaster came into their lives unexpectedly. These people appeared the participants of the military confrontation against their will. They experienced the most terrible things: the death of their friends and relatives, destroyed houses and ruined lives of thousands of people. The locals had to survive without any water and electricity under the daily shelling. And each new day could become their last day.

This series of photos was taken in Donbass. It depicts the last remaining residents of bombed out villages in the combat zone. I met these people in the village Veseloe near Donetsk airport in September of 2015. The village was completely destroyed during heavy fighting for the airport. During attacks, people hide in the basements of destroyed houses. Mainly, these are older men and women that have been left on their own. Some have decided to stay and fight to the end; others simply have nowhere to go. Many of their relatives have either left or died. Sergei Novik, a resident of the village of Veseloe, told me: “I never understood what peace was before, or how important it is. You can die at any moment here, but I’m not going anywhere.”