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Fishermen on boats rescued people from the occupation

Illustration: #OksanaDrachkovska

#Straholissia #Kyiv


The village of Straholissia is located on a small peninsula on the right bank of the Kyiv Reservoir, 100 kilometers north of Kyiv. In February 2022, the Russians surrounded Straholissia and occupied the nearest settlements, so the inhabitants remained practically cut off from the outside world. On one side they had the icy Dnipro river, on the other—the occupiers. Provisions were gradually running out, and a pregnant woman required a cesarean section, so the fishermen from Straholissia risked going on their boats down the river to the opposite bank in order to save the woman and replenish supplies of food and medicine.

Tania, the pregnant woman, prayed all the time while the fishermen on the boat broke the ice and moved in the direction of Kyiv. The road was indeed risky: enemy planes and drones were flying overhead.  These could have hit the fishing boat at any moment. In an hour and a half, Tania reached the place on the left bank, where a car was waiting for her. It took her to the Kyiv maternity hospital, where Tania gave birth to a boy in early April.

So the fishermen had set up an evacuation route from Straholissia to Kyiv, and on the way back, they loaded a boat with humanitarian supplies. Residents of the occupied territories soon began to flee to the village in order to evacuate by river to Kyiv and then leave for the west of Ukraine or the EU. Up to 200 people came to Straholissia in one day, primarily families with small children. Up to 16 people were put in one boat at a time; they also brought their pets. They ignored the weather: they set off in ten-degree frost and in a storm with two-metre-high waves. Although the sun and calm were more frightening when the enemy flew overhead as they could be seen more quickly.  

In a month, the fishermen of Straholissia were able to save about 2,000 people. To appreciate the heroism of those who steered the boats so safely, it is worth looking at the tragedies around them. In the village of Sukholuchchia, a four-year-old boy and his grandmother fled from the invaders in an inflatable motorboat but drowned. In Bohdany, the Russians exposed the people organising the river evacuation and captured them. The inhabitants of Straholissia knew what would be waiting for them if the Russians entered the village, but they still continued to save all those willing to journey with them.


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