Ukraine: in Siversk, a bombed city, in the basement where the inhabitants hide

Audio 01:22

Bread distribution to the population of Siversk, Donetsk region, May 2, 2023. AFP - DIMITAR DILKOFF

Text by: RFI Follow

3 min

In the Donbass, a few dozen kilometers from Bakhmut, the city of Siversk is regularly plagued by strikes by the Russian army. The front line is less than ten kilometers away. The destruction is numerous and the inhabitants spend a good part of their time in basements.


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From our special envoys in Donbass, Anastasia Becchio and Boris Vichith

On the ground floor of a partially destroyed hospital, in a room without windows, nurse Elena Bondarenko ensures permanence: first aid, distribution of medicines but also valerian and other substances with calming properties.


We're all mentally unbalanced right now (smiles). We hold on to the adrenaline. We've been living in basements for about a year because it's scary. And I think it will be even worse: if Bakhmut falls, then Siversk is next," she said.

25 people, mostly elderly, live in the basement of the building, to protect themselves from strikes. Slight on her head, the frail Halyna Mifodievna, 84, waits for the arrival of bread on a bench. Artillery fire echoes nearby. "When will it stop? My house has been destroyed, I have nowhere else to go," she said.

A shell rips through the air and lands nearby. The octogenarian returns to the basement: a long corridor, a stove and small rooms closed by heavy fabrics. A new shot shakes the walls. "This incessant bombing is frightening. I have no more strength. As soon as you go back up, you have to go and hide again. It's very hard for us," Halyna continues.

Volodymyr Zelensky had ordered civilians in the region to leave, but more than a thousand people still live in the city.

Alla Trubacheva, the only doctor in Siversk

Shops and hospitals have closed in Siversk, but a general practitioner continues to provide care to those who are unable or unwilling to leave their town.

The last patients have just left, it's time for the delivery of boxes of medicines for Alla Trubacheva. The sexagenarian set up her practice in a small house, when the hospital, where she had a consultation, was, in part, destroyed. Outside, the explosions are incessant. More than once, she wanted to leave for a less exposed place, but the sense of duty stopped her.


As long as there are people here, I will not leave. It is necessary to have a doctor in a war zone where people live. We hope that with the help of God and that of our soldiers, we will not know the fate of Bakhmut," Alla Trubachev told RFI.

If Bakhmout is almost a pile of ruins, in Siversk, many buildings are disfigured. Some 1,200 people continue to live there. This is still too much, stresses the head of the city's military administration, Oleksii Vorobiev, who came to supervise the distribution of medicines and bread:

« As the head of the military administration, I cannot advise people to stay here. Everyone should take shelter in safer places. Unfortunately, people have only one answer in their mouths: "we have nowhere to go" »  

Despite regular bombings, local authorities are considering bringing in specialists and dentists once a week to treat a population affected by the fighting.

[Report] Alla Trubacheva, the only doctor in Siversk: "As long as there are people left here, I will not leave"

Anastasia BecchioBoris Vichith

" READ ALSO – In the Donbass with a Franco-Ukrainian volunteer, at the front facing the Russian troops

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