Belgorod. Between war and peace

Special report by Novaya Gazeta Europe

The war crossed the border between Russia’s Belgorod and Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in the morning of 24 February. But it almost immediately came back, albeit partially. The atmosphere of panic and fear affected pretty much everyone. Daily shelling and “bangs” (as the Russian propaganda refers to explosions) in a matter of months instilled constant fear in Belgorod residents. And the war became the new normal.

Total censorship ensued, even in independent local media sources. The society has also tensed up: war opponents are silent, jingoists have gone quieter after the mobilisation, families are fighting.

Meanwhile, the war still goes on in Belgorod. The last few months were horrifying even to the toughest ones. Children and university students study from home, workers are told to work remotely. Pensioners are leaving the city, people come out less to avoid being killed in shelling.

In this special report, we talked to Belgorod residents who overcame their fears to let us know more about the situation and their worries. What was the first day of the war like? What has happened to society over these long 8 months of missile strikes? How do ordinary people protest when they can lose it all for any word of opposition?

This report tells stories of Belgorod residents with different lives, but they think the same: war is a living nightmare.

We will not show faces of some people at their request, some names have been changed due to safety concerns.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.