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War in Ukraine | Kyiv residents adapt to power cuts



(Kyiv) Irene lights candles, Igor his headlamp. It is 6:09 p.m. in Kyiv. As programmed, the current has just been cut in the building of the couple, in a northern district of the Ukrainian capital.

Since October 10, the Ukrainian electricity system has been heavily affected by multiple Russian strikes that have targeted energy sites.

In order to avoid a total blackout, the national operator Ukrenergo has therefore implemented scheduled power cuts, in the capital as well as in many cities and regions of Ukraine.

On the operator’s website, all you have to do is indicate your address and the cut-off schedule appears for the week, by rotation of districts.

In the building of Irène Rozdoboudko and Igor Jouk, and a dozen others around, three blackouts lasting four hours took place on Saturday: midnight-4 a.m., 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

“I like semi-darkness, when it’s calm, dark and nobody bothers me to think,” says Irene, a 60-year-old writer and artist, preparing a vegetable salad.

” Blindly ”

She says she can cook “with her eyes closed” borscht, a typical Ukrainian soup made from beets.

” The Cook [à gaz] always works […] I take water, [même si] the water flow is low. There is cabbage in the fridge, carrots and other necessary products,” she adds, adding that the heating was also working.

To light up, the couple uses decorative candles that they had for a long time and flashlights. In the bathroom, it’s a camping lamp.

Outside, the neighborhood is plunged into darkness.

On the dark facades of the buildings, faint lights appear at the windows of certain apartments.

On the dark sidewalks, the inhabitants walk by lighting up with flashlights or their mobile phones.

But scheduled outages are no longer enough to relieve the electrical system. On Saturday, the operator Ukrenergo announced additional restrictions with emergency interruptions, not planned this time.

Sunday in Kyiv, even neighborhoods close to the Ukrainian presidency in the city center, hitherto spared, were thus also temporarily deprived of electricity, noted AFP.

Water cuts also took place earlier this week in some areas of the capital, following new Russian missile strikes on Monday.

In the light of candles, Irène fashions the clothes of a doll. “I would never do that if there was light”, says the sixty-year-old, from Donetsk (East), whose eponymous region was annexed at the end of September by Moscow.

The strikes since October on the capital – which had not been hit since June – have also been a brutal reminder of the war that has been raging for eight months on the eastern and southern fronts of the country, where bombings, often fatal, are daily in many localities.

For Igor, a 70-year-old scientist passionate about music, these bombings on civilian infrastructure are the mark of “the agony and helplessness of the Russian army”, in difficulty on several fronts after having lost thousands of soldiers in September. square kilometers in the northeast.

Maidan in the dark

“When they see they can’t fight with the army [ukrainienne]they start to fight with the rear of the army: the civilians,” he says.

In the center of Kyiv, where night falls around 5 p.m., Independence Square (Maidan in Ukrainian), iconic place of the 2014 revolution, is also regularly plunged into darkness. Only the headlights of cars light up the streets of the neighborhoods where the current is no longer. Restaurants are also adapting, candles are required.

During the night from Thursday to Friday, nearly 4.5 million people in Kyiv and in ten other regions across the country were temporarily deprived of electricity, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, denouncing an “energy terror”. .

With the approach of winter, the mayor of the capital, Vitali Klitschko, said he envisaged “the worst” scenario in the event of new strikes on energy sites: “the one where there will be no more electricity at all , water and heating”.

He announced the preparation of “more than a thousand heating points” just in case. “We have bought electric generators, stored water and everything necessary for these heating points to accommodate people,” he said.

With his lamp on his forehead, Igor wants to put things into perspective: “It will probably be a little more difficult in winter, or maybe a lot more difficult. But we are not in the worst situation right now.”

Displayed in a corner of the apartment, Irène shows, moved, a letter from her grandchildren, refugees in Marseilles in France: “Hello grandfather and grandmother. I wanted to know if life was okay in Ukraine? And if not, come and join us in France. We love you very much and we support you”.

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