Ukraine Stories #Week20: Odesa helps Mykolaiv with water

Volunteer centre in Odesa full of drinking water for Mykolaiv. (Credit: Tetiana Bezhenar)

In this live blog, at the heart of our project we’ve called “Ukraine Stories”, Ukrainian and Russian journalists write about the harsh living conditions that the Russian invasion has inflicted on them. We cannot always verify the events described in their articles, but their short reports and feature stories describe two countries in the turmoil of war. This blog is also available in Ukrainian and Russian.

Odesa helps Mykolaiv with water

by Tetiana Bezhenar

Physically Odesa and Mykolaiv are 130 kilometres apart, but the psychological distance between the two southern Ukrainian cities is much smaller at the time of the Russian aggression.

Mykolaiv has been a real vanguard and shield for Odesa since 24 February. Since Mykolaiv is doing well in defending itself, life in Odesa has been more or less calm. Every Odesite, therefore, feels like it’s their duty to help the people who remain in Mykolaiv in all the ways they can. Odesa’s volunteer centres have supported the neighbouring region since the first days of the Russian aggression. 

The water crisis in Mykolaiv became a real test of endurance and humanity for the two cities. The crisis started as a result of irreparable water supply facility damage following an attack by Russia on 12 April . To get water for their household needs, people were forced to turn to their nearest reservoirs. So, Odesa came to the rescue. For a month, Odesites brought bottles of water to their volunteer centres – as many as possible.

“We accepted all the water brought by Odesites and were prepared to help Mykolaiv as much as needed. On average, we were sending 20 tons of bottled water every day. Businesses were helping separately: they drove large vehicles loaded with water,” volunteer Eduard Shvaiuk told us.

Volunteer Eduard Shvaiuk speaks to GS News. (Credit: Tetiana Bezhenar)

Odesa city administration also helped. It sent five water carriers, each carrying eight tons of drinking water from boreholes in the nearby villages, to Mykolaiv. In that way, residents of Mykolaiv had access to drinking water daily. The Odesa city administration also sent drilling crews to make new boreholes.

“Mutual help and support between the two cities are of utmost importance today, at the time when the enemy is insidiously destroying our infrastructure,” the mayor of Odesa, Gennadiy Trukhanov said. “This is when you see a powerful unity of Ukraine in action. Every citizen shows to the world that we are one big Ukrainian family.”

Odesa mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov speaks to GS News in front of the water carriers. (Credit: Tetiana Bezhenar)

On 15 June, volunteers from Odesa installed a filtration system in the borehole in Mykolaiv, near a children’s hospital. The system cost nearly 1 million hryvnias (over 33,000 euros), and the funds were raised by Odesites. The first water filtration system was installed in early May.

The systems can filter any water from open sources or boreholes. It was created specifically for the city’s needs and can clean up to 48 cubic metres (48,000 litres) of water a day, which is enough to supply 24,000 residents on a daily basis.

“This filtration system is more economically viable. We do not need to spend our resources on finding petrol and large vehicles for transporting water, we have more rational solutions. Thanks to the filtration system we have fully disinfected water suitable for drinking,” head of a volunteer centre, Inha Kordynovska, said.

At the moment, there is enough technical water across the city. The volunteers say that they’re not raising money for more filtration systems but if the need to do so arises, they are sure that the Odesites won’t stay aside again.

First prison sentence for anti-war stance in Russia

On 8 July, Moscow's Meshchansky District Court convicted Alexei Gorinov, a municipal deputy from the city, of "knowingly disseminating false information" about the Russian military utilising his "official position". He was accused of doing so as part of an organised group motivated by "political hatred" according to Novaya Gazeta.Europe.

Gorinov brought a small paper to the hearing on which he had written: "Do you still need this war?". He was not allowed to show it to the audience and  was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony.

The politician denounced Moscow's war and aggression against Ukraine on 15 March during a meeting of his municipal assembly that was broadcast on YouTube. He was was arrested on 26 April and sent to a pre-trial detention facility the following day. The investigative committee handled the criminal case in five days, the trial only took three sessions and the prosecutor's office managed to present the evidence in a few hours.

Elena Kotenochkina, another municipal deputy accused of doing the same, wasn’t on  trial because she managed to leave Russia before her arrest. Her name has been added to the international wanted list.

Alexei Gorinov was convicted of calling the "special operation" a "war" and of mentioning the deaths of Ukrainian children. This information, according to the Russian prosecutor's office, contradicts the official line of the Ministry of Defence. Because the session was broadcast, the deputy and his colleague were convicted of "misleading an unlimited number of persons", which the court considered as aggravating circumstances.

US drugmaker to stop MMR vaccine supplies to Russia

American pharmaceutical company MSD will cease supplying vaccines against chickenpox, rubella, measles and mumps (MMR) to Russia. The company will however continue to sell products which have no analogues, according to Russian daily "Kommersant".

MSD has also requested from its contractors to stop supplying Varivax vaccines against chickenpox.

Roszdravnadzor, Russia’s state medical regulator, has confirmed that the company submitted a notification about its plans to stop importing these vaccines to Russia. The entity ensured the country has enough generics.

According to Antonina Oblasova, the co-founder of ANO Collective Immunity, pharmaceutical companies are required by law to continue supplying drugs for a year after they have notified the Health Ministry.

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several major pharmaceutical companies have announced they will no longer conduct new clinical trials for drugs in Russia. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has stopped supplying non-core drugs to the country, except for those destined to cancer patients and diabetics.

Russia’s shepherd switches sides, serves Ukrainian soldiers

(Credit: Svitlana Vovk)

by Svitlana Vovk

Max the Belgian shepherd served under the Russian army in the early days of war. But when the Ukrainians liberated villages in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region from occupiers, the dog was left behind.

He started following residents around who soon after, handed him over to  the National Guard of Ukraine. Out of the four dog trainers in the service the shepherd choose a soldier nicknamed “Riddick” From then on, he became known as “Max”.

“[Max] approached me, and he wasn’t aggressive, on the contrary, he was calm, recalls Riddick. As they say, dogs chose their owners, and in this case case, he also chose his military partner.”

According to the trainer, Max has adapted to his new life and his open-air cage and can even understand basic commands in Ukrainian thanks to hand gestures.

“Every dog trainer knows how to retrain or train a dog that comes from a different owner. Max began recognising the gestures he saw before, but the commands were now in Ukrainian,” Riddick noted.

(Credit: Svitlana Vovk)

The shephard has been gradually getting more involved with military service tasks in his new home. He is also involved in the protection of public areas at entry-exit checkpoints for vehicles.

By looking at Max's teeth, trainers determined the dog is four years old. Before enlisting him, the soldiers called a veterinarian to check Max for ticks and other diseases. Fortunately, he was healthy.

A Mykolaiv-based illustrator, Yulia, created a comic strip for the dog called “How Max learnt Ukrainian in a month”. The soldiers say that they enjoy Max's popularity.  The shepherd has daily training sessions which he really enjoys. After those, he loves to play with balls and tree branches and likes to swim in the river. Max is safe with his new owners.

(Credit: Svitlana Vovk)