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A tale of two Kyivs: Families walk in the park, others in the rubble

A tale of two Kyivs: Images of hope show families flocking to a city centre park… while those in the suburbs return to the rubble

  • Ukrainian are coming to terms with the destruction left behind by Russians
  • Families stroll through the park in Kyiv, stopping to take pictures of magnolia
  • But just 25 miles away, a 53-year-old nurse breaks down when seeing her home
  • Many fled the city in the early days of the war, fearful they would never return

As families stroll through the park – stopping off to take pictures in front of the blooming magnolia – it’s hard to believe their country is in the throes of war.

But just 25 miles away from this tranquil park in central Kyiv, the horrific reality is laid bare, as a devastated woman stumbles through the ruins of her family home.

In the village of Ozera, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, 53-year-old nurse Inna broke down as she surveyed the wreckage of the house destroyed by Russian shelling.

Neighbours are coming to terms with the death and destruction left behind by the invading forces after their retreat earlier this month, and Inna must try to rebuild her life from her sister’s house in the village where she is now staying.

Back in Kyiv, residents appeared to be sheltered from the terrors of the war as they enjoyed a beautiful spring day at the AV Fomin Botanical Garden on Monday. Couples strolled hand in hand along its winding pathways as children played under the white blossom

But just 25 miles away from this tranquil park in central Kyiv, in the village of Ozera, the horrific reality is laid bare, as a devastated woman stumbles through the ruins of her family home. Neighbours are coming to terms with the death and destruction left behind by the invading forces after their retreat earlier this month

But back in Kyiv, residents appeared to be sheltered from the terrors of the war as they enjoyed a beautiful spring day at the AV Fomin Botanical Garden on Monday.

Couples strolled hand in hand along its winding pathways as children played under the white blossom.

Just six weeks ago, Kyiv was under a strict overnight curfew and its subway stations served as emergency shelters for some 15,000 residents as Moscow’s troops focused on taking the capital.

Many fled the city in the early days of the war, packing on to trains heading west, fearful they would never return.

For weeks, Kremlin forces inched towards the capital from the north but were unable to break through Ukrainian lines or overcome the logistics issues that came with a hastily ordered invasion.

But as Russia’s focus has shifted towards eastern Ukraine after the failed attempt to take Kyiv, the city has gradually returned to something that resembles normality.

Cafes, theatres and cinemas have reopened and tens of thousands of residents have returned. But the devastation of the conflict is never far away.

Families used to be able to walk freely in the park without the fear of Russian attacks. As families stroll through the park – stopping off to take pictures in front of the blooming magnolia – it’s hard to believe their country is in the throes of war

In the village of Ozera, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, 53-year-old nurse Inna broke down as she surveyed the wreckage of the house destroyed by Russian shelling

The burned-out buildings and rubble in the village of Ozera are a common sight in the satellite towns around Kyiv.

Russian troops began withdrawing from the region at the beginning of April, and the bodies of hundreds of civilians have been found since.

In Bucha, about 18 miles north-west of Kyiv, hundreds of civilians were killed by Russian forces and buried in mass graves. Some of the dead were found with their hands tied behind their backs.

The town was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the war so far and has since been visited by prosecutors from the International Criminal Court, which is investigating possible war crimes.

Kyiv also came under heavy bombardment from airstrikes before the withdrawal, with missiles striking residential areas.

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