Saturday, Aug. 19, started off as a normal day for the inhabitants of old northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

Families walked through the city center under the sunshine of the early summer afternoon.

But this warm, calm day was abruptly interrupted by a terror strike by a Russian ballistic missile right into the very heart of the city.  Seven people were killed, including a 6-year-old girl whose father is a defender fighting on the frontlines, and over 130 others injured.

As a video journalist, I quickly left my base in Kyiv and drove north to record the tragic results of this war crime.

I’ll quote from my notes and share some of the photos I took.

Shattered remains of cars sat in front of the city’s opera theatre. Blood-stained fabrics lay before the steps, just moments before having covered the victims. 

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Photo credit: Jay Schnell.

The streets were filled with glass and the sound of electric tools grinding away in the distance seeking to contain and repair the damage caused, 

There was a strong look of desperation and trauma on the faces of police officers and civilians after this barbaric attack on the local community. A deep sadness permeated the air as people sought to comfort each other. 

Photo credit: Jay Schnell.

Despite the terror imposed upon them, they remained strong and united. Katarina makes coffee with bandages on her hands. “I am grateful that I was not facing the window when the strike occurred,” she tells me, pointing towards the theatre across the road. 

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Photo credit: Jay Schnell.

“It reminds me of 2022 when the invasion began, and Russians were trying to take the city. We had no food, no water no electricity,” she says. 

“We stayed together as a community in order to survive. We cannot get weak. We have to stay strong. We can’t give up!” 

When I tried to ask her more questions, I stopped. It was clear that her eardrums had been damaged by the blast of the explosion. 

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Olexii Sikun, a local business owner and father tells me: “It’s a small community. But, we remain united just like we did at the beginning of the full-scale invasion. There’s a lot of history here and it’s a very old city.

“I love Chernihiv and this is my home.”

His wife is standing beside him, crying.

 

Jay Schnell is a Canadian video journalist currently in Kyiv and cooperating with Kyiv Post

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