My translator survived Mariupol’s hell

A columnist's encounter with a translator who has survived incessant attacks from Russia shares her story.



April 7, 2022 - 12:31 PM

Ukrainian servicemen are seen at the explosion site as a result of a rocket strike into the shopping mall on March 21, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. As Russia's advance on Kyiv has largely stalled, the Ukrainian capital has continued to be hit by missiles and shellfire. More than three million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its large-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 24. Photo by (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images/TNS)

Alina is one of the lucky ones. She’s not dead from starvation or a Russian bullet or missile in Mariupol.

The world is witnessing the horror of Russian war crimes in Ukraine — as revealed in Bucha after Russian troops withdrew from the town near Kyiv. Yet the torture, executions, and casual killing of civilians in Bucha is only a fraction of the ongoing horrors in other besieged towns and cities such as Mariupol. There, in Alina’s home city, more than 100,000 desperate civilians are being prevented from leaving by Russian shelling.

Alina’s story reveals how tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians are confronting an occupation unlike anything Europeans have experienced since the Nazi invasions of World War II.

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