Medium of instruction. Kyiv 2022


The «Medium of instruction» project is a continuation of the photo series I shot in the military zone in Donbas in 2017.
In 2022, Russian troops occupied part of the Kyiv region. Part As a result of the fighting, the city infrastructure was destroyed. 2,102 educational institutions of Ukraine were damaged due to Russian bombing and shelling. Of them, 215 were completely destroyed.
The photographs show young people living in the de-occupied settlements of the Kyiv region. Soon these children will become full members of society. They will have to bear on their shoulders the future that has grown out of today’s militarized reality.



Lyudmila lives in Gorenka with her mother and two sisters. The girl’s father has been serving in the Armed Forces since the first days of the war. Lyudmila’s grandmother lives in Chernihiv Oblast, in a village bordering Belarus. Early in the morning on February 24, she called and said that tanks were coming through the village, the war had started. The hostilities unfolded rapidly, Lyudmila’s mother did not have time to evacuate the children. Heavy shelling began at night, and Lyudmila and her family went down to the basement. The next day, they moved to a neighbor’s basement and stayed there for 2 weeks. During this time, fierce battles took place in Gorenka, houses were burning, explosions and gunshots were heard. Once a mine exploded near their basement, the mother covered the children with her body. Thanks to a lucky chance, the fragments did not touch the woman and children. On March 6, people managed to evacuate. After the deoccupation, they returned to Gorenka. The girl cried when she saw the destroyed school, because she loved to study there. Her toys and personal belongings burned in the school building.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin Summer 2022.



Yana finished the 10th grade and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. On February 24, the girl was woken up by her sister’s phone call. She reported that the war had begun. Yana packed a suitcase with things, bought bandages and iodine at the pharmacy. And went to the store to her mother. The girl’s mother works as a saleswoman in a store. An explosion rang out near the store, and Yana and her mother ran away to seek shelter. They found a basement in which 11 people were sitting and spent the night there. The next day, the girl and her mother moved to another basement, where they lived for 2 weeks. It was impossible to sleep in the basement, so despite the frosty weather, they slept on the street alternately between shelling. There was heavy shelling, everything was on fire. Yana’s grandparents came and the girl evacuated with them from the burning city. After the de-occupation of the Kyiv region, Yana returned home to Pushcha-Vodytsia.
Photo: Ukraine. Gorenka. Summer 2022.



Nastya is 8 years old and dreams of becoming a hairdresser. The girl lives and studies in the village of Buzova. From the first days of the war, this village was heavily shelled and was later occupied by the Russians. Nastya and her mother evacuated to Poland. After de occupations returned. There are many destroyed houses in their village, and the school was badly damaged. In various parts of the building, walls and roof, furniture were destroyed, not a single whole window remained. Previously, more than 580 children studied at the school.
Photo: Ukraine. Buzova 2022.



Margarita is 9 years old. The girl’s favorite school subject is the Ukrainian language, her favorite hobby is dancing. Before the war, she lived in the village of Buzova, now in Kyiv. When the Russian offensive began, Margarita and her little brother and family evacuated to the Khmelnytskyi region. Returning after de-occupation, they saw that their apartment was broken.
Photo: Ukraine. Buzova 2022.



Masha studies in the 7th grade and loves mathematics. The girl dreams of becoming a hairdresser, she likes to do hair for her mother and grandmother. Masha lives in Gorenka with two brothers. From the first days of the war, the girls and their families hid in a bomb shelter. Within a week, hostilities intensified and people were evacuated to Western Ukraine. Returning to Gorenka, Masha saw that her house had survived, but the school where she studied in junior grades had been destroyed. The girl’s mother worked as a teacher at this school.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin. Summer 2022.


Lilya and Nelya

Two sisters, Lilya and Nelya, live in Gorenka. They have a younger sister Lyudmila. Lilya and Nelya study in the 8th grade. The girls’ father serves in the Armed Forces. The mother did not have time to evacuate the children, because their car was broken and military operations were unfolding very quickly. On the first day, they had to go down to the basement to hide from the bombardment. The next day they moved to another basement and stayed there for two weeks. Sometimes the mines exploded so close that the mother covered the children with her body. The woman was worried that the Russians would enter their basement and shoot them, because the father is a soldier. On March 6, people managed to evacuate. The girls’ mother had to return to Gorenka between battles to save the cats, which remained locked in the house. After the deoccupation, they returned to Gorenka and live in their own house.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin. Summer 2022.



Katya with her younger sister and sixteen-year-old brother live in Irpen. When the war began, they hid in the basement of their house from shelling. Neighbors and acquaintances came to them. Their basement accommodated 12 people. Katya and her family stayed in Irpen for 6 difficult days and long nights. They could not leave earlier, because Katyn’s father provided help and support to the residents of the city. A shell flew to the neighboring house and Katya’s family decided to leave the city. After the deoccupation, Katya returned to Irpin and saw the destroyed town and school. A shell flew into the yard of Katya’s house, luckily the house survived.
Katya does not want to remember those terrible days. The war changed the girl’s life and she will always remember these terrible events. Katya dreams of becoming a psychologist and helping people.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin. Summer 2022.



Sofia finished the 9th grade. Together with her grandmother, parents and sister, she lives in Gorenka, and studies in Pushcha-Vodytsia. On the morning of February 24, my mother reported the terrible news that the Russians were bombing the neighboring town of Gostomel. The Russians began shelling the village of Sofia on the first day of the offensive. The girl’s family had to go down to the basement. There was no electricity, they sat in complete darkness, freezing and waiting for something. They were waiting for everything to end. It was scary. During the day, light filtered into the basement, and to distract herself, Sofia and her sister played chess. Fighting intensified, and on March 4 Sofia’s family decided to evacuate. Grandma refused to go. She stayed in Gorenka and helped people, fed animals left by neighbors. After the deoccupation, Sofia and her family returned home.
Photo: Pushcha — Voditsa. Summer 2022.



Nikita is 16 years old. He lives with his sister Sofia and parents in Gorenka. The boy studies at a school located in Pushcha-Vodytsia. The invasion of Russian troops in Gostomel took place before the boy’s eyes. Nikita saw Russian aircraft flying towards the Gostomel airport when they tried to seize it. Events developed very quickly, active hostilities began in Gorenka on the first day of the Russian offensive. The next day, Nikita’s family decided to hide in a bomb shelter in Pushcha-Vodytsia. More than 200 people were there. Among them were women with babies, elderly people, bedridden patients, local residents with animals. Some came, others left. People united and improved their lives: they built places to sleep, sealed windows, helped the sick.At night they were on duty in turns. At that time, there were many patients with coronavirus. Everyone’s phones were turned off so that they could not be found by the accumulation of signals. They did not go outside because it was dangerous. A Russian drone was flying above them. Explosions were heard near the bomb shelter.
Nikita’s family spent 4 nights in the bomb shelter. When the Russian troops started shooting in Kyiv, people evacuated from the Kyiv region. After the deoccupation, they returned home. Nikita was lucky that his house survived, but there are many destroyed houses on the nearby street. Nikita dreams of becoming a businessman and creating something useful for people. He says that war is the self-destruction of humanity.
Photo: Pushcha — Voditsa. Summer 2022.



After the Russian troops began their offensive on Kyiv, Artem and his parents went to Vorzel to his grandmother. There they came under Russian occupation. Water, communication, electricity disappeared. It was cold, so they heated the bathhouse to warm up. Once the Russian military entered the house and searched it. After the soldiers left, Artem’s parents saw that the watch, money, and phones were missing from the house. Russian soldiers spent the night in nearby, neighboring houses. On the other side of Buchi and Irpen, there was a rush, Artem could hear how his hometown was being shelled. At the end of March, the Russians were retreating, the noise of their equipment could be heard on the track all day long. After the deoccupation, Artem and his family returned home.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin. Summer 2022.



Yaroslav lives with his family in Irpen. Yaroslav did not have time to finish the 9th grade at his school. The war began and he evacuated with his family to the Zhytomyr region. After the occupation, he returned home. A rocket hit his high-rise building and destroyed the balcony, Yaroslav’s apartment was not damaged.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin. Summer 2022.



Anya studies in the 3rd grade in the village of Buzova. She has many friends and likes to draw. On February 24, Ana’s family woke up due to explosions, then the neighbors called and said that the war had started. Parents decided to stay at home and wait. They stocked up on food and water. Every day the sounds of explosions got closer and military operations intensified. On March 5, rockets flew over Ani’s house, and fierce battles took place nearby. It was scary, because of the fires there was a red glow in the sky, neighboring houses were on fire. Anna’s family sat in the basement all day. The parents decided to evacuate, let the dogs go, grabbed the rabbits and left. When they returned, they found that their house had survived, but the neighboring houses and the school had been destroyed. Russian troops fired hailstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes at the school. 14 direct hits were made on the building. One of the projectiles penetrated the building: it flew into the office, flew through the corridor, passed the classroom, flew into the physical education room and tore off the shield, pierced the outer wall and the square in front of the school and exploded. Workers collected more than 20 shells in the school yard
Photo: Ukraine. Buzova. Summer 2022.



Kyryl did not have time to finish the 2nd grade at the Mostyshchensk school when the war started. The boy’s school was destroyed by Russian troops during the offensive. When the first explosions began, Kirill’s older sister was very afraid, she began to cry and scream. The girl has cerebral palsy and needs special care and psychological atmosphere. At first, everyone went down to the basement, but the sounds of the battle grew louder, the explosions became closer. Kirill’s parents saw that the fighter was falling and decided to evacuate. They did not have time to take the necessary things with them, only threw what they managed to grab into the trunk. They could not take the dog Buravchyk with them. The whole family of 9 people crammed into the car. They had 5 children, and the youngest was 8 months old. The road to western Ukraine took 17 hours.
When Kyryl and his family returned home, they saw that their village had been destroyed. A bomb flew into their garden and destroyed part of the house and a chicken coop. Grandfather Kirill’s house is also broken.
Photo: Ukraine. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.



Kolya lives with his mother and older brother in Mostyshche. In the first days of the Russian offensive, they left for a safe place. When they returned, they saw that there was not a single whole house left on the street. The school was also heavily damaged during the shelling.
Photo: Ukraine. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.



On February 25, Russian troops began shelling Mostyshche. Zakhar and his mother went to a safe place to visit relatives in Makarivskyi district. On the way, they heard explosions and were afraid to meet Russian troops. They thought it would be quiet with their relatives, but they got to the epicenter of hostilities. They accidentally found the car and evacuated to the Vinnytsia region.
Zakhar’s father, Andriy, stayed to take care of his elderly parents. If he had known then that they would have to go through difficult trials, he would have taken them out. Heavy shelling began and everyone was hiding inside the house. Once 3 shells hit the house, as a result the wall collapsed and a fire started on the roof. Andriy extinguished the fire, regardless of the fact that he was wounded in the head and shoulder. After that, the defense fighters evacuated the elderly parents to a safe place, and Andrii moved into the basement of a multi-story building. Powerful and continuous shelling began. The residents of the basement could not run outside to collect water. In a few days, the man escaped from the burning village. Then the nephew, who worked as a fireman, called and said that Andrei’s house had completely burned down. After the deoccupation, Zakhar and his mother returned to Mostyshche and learned that nothing remained of their house. Now they rent housing. Zahar’s school was badly damaged during the fighting, some walls were destroyed, windows and doors were missing.
The boy dreams of becoming a soldier and commanding the «Azov» regiment to defend his Ukraine.
Photo: Ukraine. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.



Arina lives in Bucha and studies in Irpen. Fighting in the city began on the first day of a large-scale war. A few days later, Arina saw the plane flying in the direction of where her school friends lived, on «Irpinsky Lipky». Arina heard explosions — the plane dropped bombs. The girl was very worried about her friends. During the bombings, Arina and her family sat in a windowless room. One day, the father went outside and saw a plane dropping aerial bombs, and shouted: — Run! Arina’s family ran outside. They ran to the cellar barefoot, without outerwear. On March 5, Arina and her family were evacuated from Buchi. After de occupation they returned and saw that the windows and doors of the house were damaged. The neighbor’s house is dilapidated. Now, when Arina hears the sound of an airplane engine, it causes a feeling of anxiety and fear.
Photo: Ukraine. Irpin Summer 2022.



Andrii’s parents cannot forget the night of February 25. Then there was heavy shelling in Mostyshche. People could not wait for the morning to escape from the bombardment. They left without going home, straight from the cellar. They did not have time to take Amadinov and all the birds died. This is a very painful topic. Andriy and his family evacuated to Western Ukraine. When they returned, they saw that a projectile had flown into their yard. The explosion blew out windows and doors. Furniture and things were cut by fragments. Andriy was lucky, more than his neighbors, his house survived. All neighboring houses were destroyed. Now the boy and his family live with his grandfather. Andriy dreams of becoming a blogger and going to Japan.
Photo: Ukraine. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.



Rostyk studies at the Mostyshchensk school. The school building was built before World War II. The boy’s mother works there as a primary school teacher. On February 24, Rostyk did not go to school because shelling began near the house. Rostik and his mother saw enemy helicopters circling. The boy’s parents turned on the maximum volume on the television so that the sound of the television drowned out the sounds of exploding shells so that the children would not be scared. At night, a shell fell near the house. Due to the blast wave, the boy and his brother fell out of bed. Early in the morning, the parents gathered things for evacuation. Rostik took a cat with him, and his brother a dachshund. The family left for relatives in Kyiv region. It was also alarming there, explosions were heard, but the settlement did not come under fire.
After the occupation, they returned to Mostyshche and experienced emotional stress from what they saw. The school was bombed, all the neighboring houses were burnt and broken. Rostyk’s house was damaged, but the walls and roof survived. At first it was scary to go outside. The boy misses the school and dreams that it will be restored.
Photo: Ukraine. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.



Anya and her mother celebrated their housewarming in a new two-story house. The construction of the house took several years, the girl was happy to have her own room. In February, the Russian offensive began. Anya’s house was at the epicenter of hostilities.
The first days they slept in the corridor on the cold floor. All the horror began at night, the most brutal shelling took place after dark. When they were heavily bombed, they ran to the cellar. Russian fighter jets were flying over Anya’s house. The girl was afraid, this fear cannot be described in words. They ran to another city together with their mother and older brother. Due to panic, people did not have time to take valuable and necessary things with them.
In another city, they lived in a basement for several weeks. Anya missed home very much, dreamed that peace would come. When Gorenka was occupied, Anya learned that her house and school were destroyed during the bombing. Now the girl lives with her grandmother, when Anya hears the sound of aircraft, she instinctively seeks shelter. During the war, they had 4 kittens, two of them died. Anya dreams of working in an animal shelter.
Photo: Ukraine. Gorenka. Summer 2022.


High school students in a destroyed school. Irpin. Summer 2022.


Children in a school bomb shelter. Pushcha — Voditsa. Summer 2022.


Children near the destroyed junior school. Gorenka. Summer 2022.


Pupils in a destroyed school. Mostyshche. Summer 2022.


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