KYIV – His yard is littered with bomb craters, his vegetable garden is destroyed, and his bees have abandoned their hives.
But Vira Chernukha, 76, and now the only resident of a village in northeastern Ukraine bombed and vacated by Russia, has no intention of leaving Dementiivka again.
When Russian troops bombed the village on the day of their invasion last year, he woke up in a hospital just across the Russian border. It took months and a 4,000 km odyssey across five countries to get home.
Currently, he keeps busy repairing damage to his yard and maintaining a monument to Ukrainian soldiers who died while defending the village.
“I’m not afraid anymore,” he said, reported by Reuters. “I’ve lived my life.”
All he remembers from February 24, 2022, the day of the Russian invasion, is waking his neighbors at 4.20am to news of war.
Then the missile hit.
“My kitchen door was open, I was standing next to the stove. I saw through the window, the glass was broken, the door frame was flying and (there were) black clouds, the earth was lifting up,” recalled Chernukha, dressed in a pink blouse and white handkerchief.