Special Envoy in Kyivhe Technique It's manic, rigid, ferocious music with metallic noise.
It is also the music that most Ukrainian soldiers listen to to escape the manic, rigid, ferocious metal symphony: the one that artillery and Kalashnikovs play every day on the front.
It was just a few hours before the start of 2024, and a woman dressed as a rabbit greeted me at the door of the Kureni nightclub on the outskirts of Kiev. “Hello, hello, hello… We're here to change the year.” At a table, he was selling animal masks and tangerines on which someone had written wishes for 2024. “Peace,” “Victory,” “Sex.” Inside, Technique She permeated the entire dark room with great anxiety. Two hundred people danced – some hidden behind the faces of dragons, bulls and rabbits – and watched the DJs dutifully. Ons, untz, untz, untz…The music sounded so loud that it seemed as if it wanted to say something: Forget the war.
While the “Korini” nightclub was rubbing its magic over an electronic beat, rescue teams in the Ukrainian capital recovered five more bodies from the building that was attacked by a Russian missile on Friday. The first day of 2024 was national mourning in Ukraine. The wave of bombings that occurred on Friday, one of the largest since the beginning of the invasion, killed 28 people in Kiev. Yesterday morning, in Al-Midan Square, sirens sounded again. “There are drones attacking now, but the Ukrainian defense is doing its job,” one woman warned. The muffled sound of the siren also seemed to want to say something: It is difficult to forget the war.
At the Kureni nightclub, a young Ukrainian man offered me MDMA, the love drug.
He would dance frequently and congratulate the DJs with applause and whistles. He was wearing sunglasses and a hat, the official holiday uniform Technique. He was talking to me about the war. He said that he was not conscripted, that he works in Kiev for an American company, and that he helps the army by donating money.
-And if you are called for conscription?
-One day it will happen. This war will not end tomorrow or this year. Many soldiers have fallen and new ones are needed.
-But do you want to go?
-Unclear. I don't want to die and it's so easy to be killed or maimed on the front.
-Do you often go out to celebrate?
-I try to go to parties that are organized. Many nightclubs remain closed. Going there is important for our mental health.
– Tomorrow [1 de gener] They stopped it because they declared a national day of mourning.
– Yes, it's not easy. Just because we're here doesn't mean we don't feel the pain of war.
Sirens sound in Maidan Square in central Kiev
Lovers Technique They advocate that this music should be listened to very loudly. They have a slogan that speaks for it: “I like loud music, because that way I can't hear my thoughts.”
Maybe that's why the room went wild when the DJs turned the volume down a bit. What's going on? “Air raid sirens sound in Kiev.” The alert lasted about twenty minutes. The crowd was mesmerized as the DJs played the music again. There was a boy taking off his shirt. A group of girls screamed while recording a video that they would later post on Instagram. A couple died as if they met on the same night.
The ultimate vodka for everyone. It is the brand that sponsored the event. Absolute is a Swedish vodka: Russian vodka is no longer available in Ukraine. They also don't serve the Moskow Mule (vodka, ginger and lime) cocktail. Instead, they have Kiev Mule (vodka, ginger and lemon). War is also about choosing what to get drunk on.
Rain of Russian drones
New Year's Eve was also severe in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Russia offered the Ukrainians a diverse list: 90 Iranian Shahed drones, four S-300 guided missiles, three Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, and one Kh-59. The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Lieutenant-General Miluka Olchuk, celebrated that most of the planes had been intercepted. “Many thanks to everyone for the combat work. A year ago, on New Year's Eve, the defenders of the sky destroyed 45 Shahed drones. Today there were 87! Let's defend the sky! Together until victory!», he wrote on Telegram.
Your Taras is one of these Defenders of the sky Who is Lieutenant Miluka talking about?
He was drinking vanilla vodka at the bar of Kurini nightclub. “I'm here because it's better than staying at home.” But he will leave soon. The next day it works. Their job: to monitor Russian missiles, explode them in the sky, and prevent them from hitting cities.
Although the Ukrainian anti-aircraft system has proven to be highly effective, a bomb escapes from time to time. This is what happened when I was talking with Private Taras: A drone managed to get past the Ukrainian defenses and hit a house in Odessa. He killed a 15-year-old boy who was preparing to celebrate the coming of 2024.
I ask Private Taras what he expects from this new year. One verb is enough: “suffer.”
At eleven o'clock at night, an hour before the end of 2023, Kurini nightclub closed due to a curfew. In Kiev, all establishments must close until five in the morning the next day. That's why the New Year's Eve party started at 4 p.m.
“Now where is he going?” From now on, they told me, everything must be a secret. A taxi took us to central Kiev. Someone was calling someone, and someone was opening the door of someone's house not far from Maidan Square. Down some stairs, there's a bar. “Journalist? You can’t write any details about our whereabouts,” the owner told me. Entrance, 1,000 hryvnia, about 25 euros, for a free bar and food. Until five o’clock, when the curfew ends, no one can leave the building. “If “Someone wanted to leave, leave now, later we won’t open the door.” And it wasn’t just because of the fine: “If the police come, all these men you see will be called to the police,” one woman told me.
At five o'clock to twelve they distributed glasses of sparkling wine. The man was starting the countdown. Twelve o'clock! We are already in 2024:”Z Novem Rocom, Z Novem Rocom, Z Novem Rocom…” [Bon any nou en ucraïnès]. Another year at war.
Someone in the sky was setting off fireworks, an activity now banned in Ukraine. This would be a source of controversy the next day: as local newspapers made clear yesterday, many Kiev residents thought they were bombs.
Christmas away from home
Ukrainian main television started the first minute of the year with a video about the war. The army's war photos continued: launching missiles, driving tanks, and launching drones. Symphony of the trenches. The announcement read before it ended: “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes.”
The vast majority of soldiers were unable to return home to celebrate Christmas with their families. War takes no holidays, and the soldiers, exhausted by the losses of deadly battles on the front, began to resent it.
Yesterday, inside a trendy café in central Kiev, with expensive cakes and some shaped like pistols, Frank Sinatra was playing. I'll be home for Christmas:
I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please prepare the snow and mistletoe
It is displayed under the tree
Christmas carols have become sad songs in a country at war. A sad Christmas in a country at war.
“Will the Pope die?” his seven-year-old daughter, Alevtina, often asks. Her husband had been fighting on the Kubyansk front for twelve months. Before, the girl did not understand what it meant for her father to be a soldier, but over the past few months she began to ask about death and battles. Father wanted to come back for a few days to spend Christmas at home. This was not allowed.
Alevtina and her family stayed home on New Year's Eve, like most Ukrainians. As with most Ukrainians, they also listened to Zelensky's speech to welcome 2024. “To all those in combat positions, at the forefront of the struggle for truth and justice: you are our heroes, and our hearts go out to you.” The president said.
A woman asked on Saturday during a solemn funeral for a soldier killed in combat in Bakhmut, “What is the use of medals of honor and honor if our young people, who are the future, die?”
“Freelance social media evangelist. Organizer. Certified student. Music maven.”