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Published in Stream:
Day 915: August 20, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
When the War 'Wakes Up' in Shirokino: A Ukrainian Officer's Report from the Front
4 years
1 Ukrainian Soldier Dead, 4 Wounded; Ukrainian JCCC Documents Russian-Backed Militants Firing on Towns

Dmytro Yuryevich Muravsky, head of the information coordination center at the Defense Ministry's department of communications and press, has posted to Facebook pictures and videos of the war in southeastern Ukraine.

One much discussed photo taken June 4, 2016 in Shirokino (Shyrokine), a town near Mariupol on the Azov Sea coast wrested from Russian-backed militants earlier this year, shows two Ukrainian soldiers helping a third who was wounded to escape, just as a shell strikes behind them. Nearby is an abandoned baby carriage -- nearly all the residents have left the town and only a few remain.

Journalist Yury Butusov described the photo; it was so vivid that some readers claimed it was staged or photoshopped, and Muravsky had to passionately defend his work as authentic.

The ATO and 112 TV reported Russian-backed militants shelled Shirokino on June 4, 2016 with 82-mm artillery. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission did not happen to cover Shirokino that day.

Recently, Muravsky returned to the front this past week and published an account of recent fighting in Shirokino.  He filmed some interviews with Ukrainian soldiers and at one point they all had to run for cover as a sniper's bullet struck the road near them.

Muravsky also uploaded some more photos he had taken in Shirokino this summer. One shows a soldier running up a village road pushing the same baby carriage as in the other photo, now full of ammunition.

Set as default press image
Shirokino, summer 2016. Photo by Dmytro Muravsky
2016-08-21 03:32:18

An exhibit of his war photography will be held in Kiev from August 23-September 4 at the Museum of History.

Here is Dmytro Muravskyk's Facebook entry for August 20, translated by The Interpreter:

"Once again about the baby carriage.

Yesterday, when we were held up in Shirokino, we became witnesses to how the war 'wakes up'. Basically, the quiet and peaceful day, letting down its heat, woke up the members of this siesta, and provoked by the end of the OSCE employees' work day, began its peformance with the sounds of far-off pops from the shooting of a sniper, inevitably accompanied by the quiet, but very unpleasant whistle of large-caliber bullets. In fact, this sound becomes unpleasant only after you have absolutely accurately begun to distinguish it from other sounds and are able to determine the approximate distance which separates you from the trajectory of the flying bullet.

The next line of development of this evening symphony is the DShK heavy machine gun, loudly announcing to the audience that the sniper's position on our side has been discovered and we must leave it. Falling silent for a short time, everything begins again but now a little to the side from the previous position.  In the orchestra, aside from the solo instrument, there are numerous different participants in the first rows. This is undoubtedly the 'conductor' or commander; the 'prompter' or spotter; the assistants or delivery men bringing the ammunition or helping to change the position and so on, depending how rapidly this play is developing.

The SPG [grenade-launcher], which has been somewhere in the background, almost in the gallery, appears in the next act. The shells flying over our heads generate a rustling, slightly whistling musical performance.

Now the time comes for the AGSes, and their maestros pass by us carrying their heavy instruments on their backs, like bass violins. Not waiting for the next part of this enthralling concert, and making use of the brief intermission, we leave our box and jump into our carriage which has just had a change of a wheel pierced by shrapnel.

Our heavy theater tuxedos really get in the way and make it hard to sit down, but no one hurries to take off his bowler hat, although the sweat ruthlessly stings and blinds our eyes. 

Now, what does this have to do with the baby carriage, you ask?

Why, nothing at all! I just liked the photo of these savvy fellows, motivated by an intelligent laziness to use everything surrounding them to preserve their precious strength, running through the open ground between houses.

All these photos were made in the village of Shirokino in the summer of this year."

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick