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Train trip to kyiv and a disturbing order: ‘Down the curtains and do not turn on any lights’

In the lviv central station, descend daily from formations that come from all over Ukraine, thousands of women and children leaving the country. The drama of war, in addition to death, is that of human displacement. And it is the trains that fulfill a function that is as sad as it is essential.

They drive people out of their neighborhoods to save their lives but at the same time for leave them in a drift which perhaps leads to exile or nowhere.

One of those trains touches the Lviv terminal this Friday morning and part of return almost empty towards the capital kyiv. In this formation, the team of Clarion to make the journey that leads to the combat zone.

The Lviv station, where a humanitarian train was coming with refugees. Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

kyiv, the disputed capital, is now converted on a mixing site. The information collected describes it as uncertain territory: apparently safe areas are interspersed with areas of struggle in peripheral neighborhoods. These places are the places where there have been at least five deaths of journalists in recent days.

With these data, and an unavoidable margin of risk, the convoy leaves from Lviv after 1:00 p.m. An hour and a half late. So much for the race against time to get to kyiv before curfew at eight o’clock at night.

For caution, Clarion he could get tickets for fifteen dollars. But because it is a humanitarian train, it is also possible to travel free of charge. Hardly anyone wants to go back to kyiv.

The formation leaves the central station and enters a plain that is undulating at times.  Photo: Special Envoys

The formation leaves the central station and enters a plain that is undulating at times. Photo: Special Envoys

In travel

A young woman in her early twenties, employed as a guard, invites us to go up to the car number two. Passengers are divided into different cabins, with plenty of room to choose from. The interior of the training is comfortable and cozy. There is an efficient heating temperature and unexpected conveniences like plugs to keep the batteries of communication equipment charged.

People wait at the Lviv railway station.  Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

People wait at the Lviv railway station. Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

the journey is peaceful. The formation leaves the central station and enters a sometimes undulating plain, dominated by ocher hues that extend into the distance.

Every once in a while a forest stripped of green, like petrified trees, betrays the end of winter. Ukraine, which seems rich in its subsoil, seems inert on the surface. But there are orchards, where they arise brief hamletsstopped in time and inhabited by families dedicated to agricultural work.

The Clarín team in car number two of the formation towards kyiv.  Photo: special envoys.

The Clarín team in car number two of the formation towards kyiv. Photo: special envoys.

The differential element in this wagon is two men dressed for combat. They are not soldiers, but civilians who they travel to fight by his own will. They left their wives and children in Lviv.

Andrew and Vasilly, both approximately 40 years old. Andrew is a construction worker. Vasilly has a medium-sized company. They smoke non-stop, for pleasure or vice. He doesn’t look uneasy. agree to talk to Clarionwhile the formation advances through a landscape that does not vary.

Refugees at the Lviv station.  Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

Refugees at the Lviv station. Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

Both fought in Donbas and since those years they say they have not found answers. What do not understand why Putin wants Ukraine. The two claim that they are not afraid of death. That this is “something foolish” and that Ukraine cannot continue “being stepped on” as it historically happened.

“Ukraine has been the place of passage for the powerful, they have emptied it and it’s time for that to endVasily says.

Andrew wants the war to end soon. He does not want to waste time or for the conflict to prolong. Vasilly disagrees: he claims that the withdrawal of the Russians is not total or sudden, but let them stay and to help with their machinery to rebuild the destroyed.

Thousands of women and children leaving the country pass through the central station of Lviv every day.  Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

Thousands of women and children leaving the country pass through the central station of Lviv every day. Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

They are excited. verbosity. They carry a knife and they are not cold. High morale. They will arrive in kyiv and be assigned to a certain neighborhood, perhaps to the Irpin neighborhood, hell near the capital, where the Ukrainians are giving a class of urban resistance against the Russian onslaught.

A Ukrainian soldier seeks cover as people flee in Irpin.  Photo: AFP

A Ukrainian soldier seeks cover as people flee in Irpin. Photo: AFP

But the tone of the trip changes abruptly. The young guard announces that the train will arrive at its destination not before nine o’clock at night. full curfew.

In kyiv, the police await the team of Clarion and the rest of the journalists to be checked. Security issues. War issues.

Hundreds of people at the Lviv station in western Ukraine.  Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

Hundreds of people at the Lviv station in western Ukraine. Photo by Francisco Argerich Hoffmann

Around 7:00 p.m., they ask the curtains of formation are lowered and that from that moment no lights come on. The road to kyiv will continue from now on in total darkness. Nothing can be done, except lie down to rest.

Special Envoy to Ukraine

Day 23 in photos: Russian missiles fall on Lviv, Ukrainian counterattacks slow advance on kyiv

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