What we ask in the interview, among others:
- How does Martin Dorazín mentally deal with the gaze of suffering Ukrainians?
- Why do silent people scare him more than the bombardment itself?
- What disappointed his former Russian classmates?
- When will he return to the territory invaded by Vladimir Putin?
How did you feel about leaving Ukraine, where you have been since the start of the war?
I’ve been there with photographer Iva Zímová since the second half of January, because we suspected that something was brewing. But no one could have imagined how terrible it would be in the end. And maybe we’re just getting started. We don’t know what the next plans of Putin and the Kremlin gang are. But from what he said now at the Lukashenko spaceport, he doesn’t want to stop. So we left in the first third of the whole war if it went well. And if it goes wrong, we are only at the beginning of the horror. I left feeling like I had to get back soon. But he didn’t stay there that long. It’s very exhausting.
Physical and psychic?
Not physically. If one does not climb directly under the shelling in the east or in Kharkov, one is not completely in danger. Although it is true that in Ukraine there is no safe place. It flies everywhere and anything can happen from east to west and from north to south. From Odessa to Chernigov.
Iva and I just agreed that we needed a break. And at work, they wanted me to leave too, but I always felt like I had to stay there, because these events were evolving and evolving into a worse or rather worse scenario. We knew Russia’s strategy was going to change and we wanted to wait for Putin to change that. The return trip was also quite painful and long, since we are talking about a country at war.
I thought – and maybe I’m wrong – that when you leave an area where such atrocities take place, you feel betrayed, where you should go and where to live, where to live and where to go. Have you had such remorse?
Yes. We stayed in the same place for a long time, in the Dnipro, the former Dnipropetrovsk, where we met people in the hotel. The refugees took turns, but some stayed there, unable to go anywhere. They were the mayors of villages or towns, those who took care of electricity, water and gas, constantly going back and forth. One day they rested, the next day they set off, brought back refugees and brought back aid. Every other day they risked their own lives. We were afraid of those people over there, because the attacks are basically over there. Dnipro is one of Russia’s main targets.
In this horror, we managed to create a family atmosphere, fear brings people together terribly. And it’s hard to leave them, they really cried when we left, especially the women. Everyone thought something worse was going to happen, they even suspected us of having information different from theirs. It is true that right after we left, the intensive shelling of Dnepropetrovsk airport began, and the situation quickly deteriorated. I left with the feeling that I was really leaving them, even though it was clear that my presence would not help them in any way. But they told me several times that they weren’t afraid of us. That they feel better and that they feel safer when we are there with them. And that if we leave, it will be psychologically difficult for them.
You can’t rest in wartime
So the start must have been hard for you. And then when the Russians attacked the airport, you probably felt even worse because they could tell at the time that you really knew something more.
It immediately came to mind. As in any war, there is espionage and suspicion, which is understandable because these people are afraid of everything else. They may have the impression that we may be working for another country. On the other hand, we have known each other so well for weeks, we call each other and we are in contact. They feel more alone.
Has anyone expressed the wish to go to the Czech Republic with you?
That is problematic. Guys can’t leave, anyone over eighteen has to stay. There were also mothers with sons who were only eighteen and nineteen. The father fights or does not fight, they are divorced, but they are afraid of the sons. They would rather stay with them than leave them there. It’s a normal maternal instinct.
When the family separates, it will be even weaker.
Do you think you will see this new Ukrainian family again? Are you going back to them? Because you want to return to Ukraine as soon as possible.
When I promised them, I would try to make it happen. But we will see. In two weeks, the situation can be completely different, they can leave or find another accommodation. But of course we are in contact and I want to get back to them. They are such friends.
I interrupted you when you started describing the way back. Was it specific?
We took the only safe route that goes from east to west through central Ukraine. And it’s not really safe either. Wherever there are military vehicles, tanks, bases, checkpoints where the militia moves, everything is a potential target. No one knows when or where the rocket will land. But we were a bit scared when we realized how close the Russians were. We were driving through central Ukraine, I retuned the radio and suddenly it rang