The last two days have been pretty quiet in this big city in the northeast, the second largest in Ukraine. But this Tuesday, the sound of the Ukrainian cannon resounded like that of the Russian artillery again.
The front line is less than 5 km from the northern and eastern districts of Kharkiv, and the Russian border is a few tens of kilometers away. Not enough to deter the three volunteers, Nazar, Alexiï and Oleg.
In front of a kindergarten converted into a food storage center, they load the trunk of their car with plastic bags, each containing bread and canned goods.
“Our main goal is to feed children and the elderly, they need it most. Unfortunately, at the moment, people have no money or work, many of them can not even move to a supermarket,” says 24-year-old Nazar Tishchenko.
Cap on the head, black sports T-shirt and Bermuda shorts, bright red sneakers, Nazar looks like Karim Benzema, with his goatee, his shaved head and his black eyes from the top of his 1.87 m.
Football fan, he likes to fight, but not the police. On one shin he tattooed the number 13 and on the other 12, in other words in the order of the alphabet: ACAB (“All cops are bastards”, “all cops are bastards”).
Born in Tyrnyauz, Russia, “he lived his whole life in the football fan movement, with nationalist guys imbued with love for our country,” Ukraine.
Music against bombs
Loaded car, direction a former post office become humanitarian center, which distributes meat. They will exchange bread for chicken thighs.
At the wheel, Alexiï, 23, slim, thin and muscular cat build, blue eyes and a small lock on a shaved head. It was he who had the idea for the supplies.
For two years he supplied bread to Kharkiv and Donbass, then he was a mechanic.
When the war broke out, he became a messenger again. Then his business closed. So he started delivering himself. “But I could not do it alone, so I asked Nazar to help me,” said the young man.
In front of the place where the meat is distributed, more than a hundred people stand in line.
Chicken reading finished, on the way to first delivery. The red Opel spins. In the cabin you can smoke and the techno music is at high pressure.
“We can not drive without music. If there is a bombing, we just turn up the volume. We are tired of the bombing. (Music) helps us relax, we are not afraid,” assures the tall tattooed man.
The northern and eastern districts of Ukraine’s second city – almost one and a half million inhabitants before the war – are almost daily targets for Russian missiles. The attacks are random, distributed at any time of the day or night, sometimes deadly.
One day, at the time of a bombing raid, “all shelters were closed,” Nazar says. “So we could not hide. We lay down on the ground and we protected civilians to save them,” he said.
“Do the right thing”
The trio of volunteers arrive in front of a dilapidated house. Fifteen people live there, including young children, in several apartments.
We deliver the bags, we chat, we play with the kids. Their visit is also a consolation, a social bond.
“While I’m here and doing this, I feel like I’m doing the right thing, I’m not useless, I understand I can help people. I do not feel joy, I’m just doing this, and I know it. is right, ”explains Alexiï.
A dull explosion happens quite close.
Oksana Taranouchkav, one of the residents, jumps. Nazar reassures her. There is no danger, he explains: On hearing, one can distinguish a shot from the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense – which was the case – from a Russian attack.
The 49-year-old woman welcomes the help of the volunteers.
“We get no support, the shops are ruined, we can not buy anything we survive,” she said, before crying begging: “Please Mr Putin, please stop. Thank you!”.
Delivery is over, we kiss, the red Opel leaves for a new address.
Late in the day, a Russian rocket hit a building in those neighborhoods. Three people died.