‘A girl, a dog and the untold war stories’ A day in the life of. . .
Marusha (28) mother to a 3-year old daughter, carryies her plate from a self-service restaurant (Сталовая) in the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, March 2015. At first take, a normal day in Eastern Ukraine. Yet Marusha is wearing her military uniform, serving as volunteer to “Pravii Sector” (Ukrainian: Правий сектор Pravyi Sektor)), one of the militia groups formed to act as paramilitary units (volunteer corps) which were assigned/supported/tolerated by the Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs to surveil Mariupol after the city was captured from Russian-backed insurgents.
Marusha (nom-de-guerre, “Myshka”), was a hairdresser in her hometown. She joined the battalion of “Pravii Sector” alongside her beloved life companion, her dog Muli, who shares her bed in the makeshift military camp, a place that used to be a youth camp facility.
“I discussed it with my family; they reacted positively and supported my choice. Now they are abroad and I am here to stay and fight to the end. I don’t understand why all this is happening here, but clearly I know that Ukraine is Ukraine - belongs to its people and will stay like that. We don’t let them choose on our behalf – it’s our nation, our land and that’s how it turned out.”
Myshka saluted me with a generous smile and an ‘unused’ bullet… Leaving the camp, I kissed her goodbye with mixed emotions and a bullet too heavy for my hand to carry, to hold. For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war, an attempt to restore it. I want my presence to be transparent. In this case it wasn’t. On top of which, I had to accept the gift of the bullet, a symbol of all that I am photographing against.
[Excerpt - to be included in “Extended War Diaries”] | Ukraine, March 2015. *names have chnaged to protect identity.
work in progress. Images: Dimitrios Bouras Text Editor: Maria Georgaki