Medicine cases, long-life foods – crackers, bars, canned legumes – torches, petrol cans. But also batteries, phone chargers and above all power banks and some clothes that keep you warm. In short, everything that can be used to face several days away from home, in precarious conditions, often in the freezing cold of the Eastern European winter, without knowing exactly where you will be in the evening. These are all objects that the Ukrainians – since February 24 under the Russian bombing – have been accumulating for years, precisely since Crimea in 2014 with a referendum passed off as a democratic and then with the war in the Donbass for the independence of the Donets Oblast. ‘k and that of Luhans’k, they began to understand that something much more terrible was going to happen in their country.
“The Ukrainians – says Anna, a family in Kiev but in Italy since 2013 – have understood that they must save themselves because no one will”. Anna’s parents, relatives and friends fled the capital, where she herself – who now lives in Turin – was supposed to return on February 24, the day of the Russian attack: “I arrived at the airport in Caselle an hour earlier of the entry of the Russians and of course I decided to go back. It was not really the case to leave ».
Survivalism, Anna says, is a phenomenon that has been widespread among Ukrainians for some time now. Born in the United Kingdom and the United States at the time of the Cold War, it has since expanded to other areas of the world. The survivalists or “preppers” – even if there is some substantial difference between the two categories – are people who are preparing to face very difficult situations, especially war: many of them have a solid military background (especially the “survivalists” ) and many have equipped their homes with bomb shelters or bunkers in which to take refuge in the event of an aerial attack. In Ukraine, bunkers, in truth, are not as widespread, although often cellars or subways – which are very deep, tens of meters underground – are used for a similar purpose. «The only buildings that have bunkers and fallout shelters – explains Anna – are the buildings that were built by the USSR. They often date back to the period after World War II or the 1970s. But now there are few left, in Kiev and throughout the country ».
However, since 2014 the fear of a conflict in one’s own home has become more realistic. «What changed our lives was the Crimea affair, which was described as a democratic independence, with this referendum wanted by the population. But it didn’t happen that way. And then there was the Donbass. There the Ukrainians realized that they had to do something to protect themselves because no one would save them if something happened. And we all knew that Putin would attack, the bombings in recent days did not surprise anyone ».
“My parents – says the 32-year-old – since 2014 have a briefcase that contains survival materials: a flashlight, some petrol, power banks for the cell phone and even some food, recently added. They are necessary objects since electricity comes and goes ». And like her parents, many others, especially in the last month, have started to buy material of this type. “Whoever had to stock up has already done it, now it will become increasingly difficult to find them on the ‘official’ market, maybe a black market will be created”. So far, in fact, the “preppers” have bought everything in the supermarket or in the shops that sell a bit of everything: «There hasn’t been a black market for objects of this type in Ukraine so far. But the situation is difficult and it cannot be excluded that in the coming weeks things will get even more complicated ».