By Remy Ourdan
Reserved for our subscribers
ReportOver 80% of the population fled the port city; 90% of the buildings are damaged. The authorities, refugees across the country, are already thinking about reconstruction.
Mariupol is his whole life. Before being the mayor of the port city, Vadym Boïtchenko worked as a teenager, during his technical studies, then, later, as an engineer in this Azovstal factory, which became the symbol of Ukrainian armed resistance against the Russian invasion. , where the last defenders of the besieged city had entrenched themselves before finally surrendering, over the past few days, to the attacker.
Refugee in Zaporijia with the municipal team in exile, Vadym Boïtchenko knows that he is now the mayor of a scorched earth. A city from which 80% of the population has left and where 90% of the buildings and houses are damaged. A city where corpses littered the streets when Russian soldiers arrived, where residents hastily buried their dead in parks and gardens, and where survivors cook in stoves on sidewalks and wash themselves with buckets of water. “A city that no longer exists,” abruptly summarizes the deputy mayor, Serhi Orlov.
Vadym Boitchenko, the mayor of Mariupol in exile, at the Zaporizhia Law University (Ukraine), May 6, 2022. LAURENT VAN DER STOCKT FOR “THE WORLD”
Mariupol, the second city of Donbass after Donetsk – secessionist and occupied by Russia since 2014 – is the first of the ten most important cities in Ukraine, since the outbreak of the war, on February 24, and after the failure of the assaults Russians on kyiv and on Kharkiv, to be conquered. It is also the first Ukrainian city to be almost wiped off the map. On the Ukrainian side, and despite the military defeat, the defenders of Mariupol, and in the end, of the Azovstal factory, entered the military history of the country as symbols of the most valiant Ukrainian resistance, the most relentless, against a much more powerful army.
Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Russia proclaims victory in Mariupol
“The irony is that one out of two residents of Mariupol is of Russian origin and all the inhabitants speak Russian”, says Vadym Boichenko, to demolish Moscow’s assertion that its military offensive is intended to come to the rescue of allegedly oppressed Russian speakers in Ukraine.
“Punishment” of Moscow
“The reality is that when Russia came in 2014 with its ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ project, Donetsk agreed and Mariupol refused. Despite fierce Russian propaganda, residents have rejected the idea of a tutelage of Moscow, the mayor explains, in an office of the law school of Zaporizhia, loaned to the municipality in exile of Mariupol. For eight years, Donetsk has been cut off from the world, while Mariupol has grown into a charming city. So much so that 120,000 inhabitants of Donetsk have emigrated to Mariupol, synonymous with modernity and progress. The destruction of Mariupol is, for the Russians and the pro-Russians of Donetsk, a kind of revenge. »
You have 70.74% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.