The other Ukraine, where a fragile but reassuring peace reigns | war in Ukraine

Nazari Malovsky is a young artist who usually sings in Ukrainian. But tonight, in front of passers-by crossing a square in downtown Lviv, he wants to clear his head because he thinks about the war every day. This has spared his city so far, but what is happening in the east of his homeland makes him fatalistic.

What can I do if bombs fall in front of my house? We must live on to show Russia that there is nothing stopping us from living normally anyway. »

A quote from Nazari Malenovsky, street musician

“Of course everyone is worried,” says Nazari Malenovsky, but Lviv is a place of peace, and that’s a good thing because it allows us to forget about the war a little. »

Photo: Radio Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Located 70 kilometers from the Polish border and more than 400 kilometers west of Kyiv, Lviv welcomed thousands of refugees at the start of the Russian invasion.

For a few weeks now, the city of over 700,000, which is a magnet for artists and young people, has been bubbling up again as if nothing had happened. The restaurants are almost full of customers and everyone goes about their daily business. Trams and buses bring their streams of employees to the respective shops and offices.

We would almost forget that this country is suffering from the chaos of war a few hundred kilometers from here.

In the evening the contrast with the besieged cities of Donbass is even more glaring. The streets are teeming with young Lembergers talking about their day over a drink.

Lviv’s tram and bus network works as if nothing happened.

Photo: Radio Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Sitting on the windowsill on the second floor of a bar, Anna Syvokhip, in her mid-twenties, watches these young revelers with amused and contented eyes. She, who left her Russian-speaking family in Mariupol three years ago, says she is proud to have chosen Lviv to live. She moved here to study fashion design. She doesn’t regret for a second about leaving her family, who decided to help the Russians win the war.

They think everything is better in Russiashe regrets. They are being poisoned by Moscow propaganda. They say everything is bad in Ukraine and America, but everything is great in Russia.

She is saddened by what is happening in the east of the country, in Donbass, especially in her former city of Mariupol, which was devastated by the Russian strikes. I don’t know what to say because it’s too hard to think aboutshe falls.

Anna Syvokip has a very different perspective on her family, who support the Russian invasion.

Photo: Radio Canada / Frédéric Arnould

In any case, the Russian invasion convinced her of one thing: her attachment to Lviv and to this country, which she had wanted to leave not so long ago to live in Norway. I dreamed of going to this country, but now I want to live in Lviv and start a family there.

In this city with Austro-Hungarian architecture, which seems like an oasis of relative calm in a war-torn country, not only Ukrainians take the opportunity to recharge their batteries. Especially foreigners who left their homeland to help Ukrainians.

Johanna Flogberg, a 26-year-old Swede, travels all over Ukraine.

Photo: Radio Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Such is the case of Johanna Flogberg, a 26-year-old Swede from Gothenburg, who arrived in Ukraine on the second day of the Russian invasion.

Strolling the streets of Lviv in military camouflage, this truck driver and nurse could not stand by and watch. I couldn’t stay home quietly knowing that some here were suffering from the war. I had to help themShe screams.

Accompanied by her British colleague Tony, 30, to administer first aid to the wounded on the front lines, Johanna says she is ready to stay until the end of the conflict, even if what she saw in Kharkiv, Boutcha and Irpin shocked her. It’s worse than what the media shows you, it breaks your heart.

She has been in Lviv for a few days to catch her breath.

In the evenings I show my smile because I love seeing all these young people on the street. I love this city. And maybe I’ll rent an apartment there after the conflict. »

A quote from Johanna Flogberg, a Swede who came to the aid of the Ukrainians

The streets of Lviv are teeming with young Lviv people who talk about their days over a drink.

Photo: Radio Canada / Frédéric Arnould

In this seeming negligence, Lviv, like Nazari Malenovsky, does not forget those who suffer from daily Russian incursions.

Of course everyone is worried, he agrees. but Lviv is a place of peace, and that’s a good thing, because it allows us to forget about the war a little.

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