Hasinul Haque’s village is in Chuadanga. He has been in Kyiv for 32 years now. Earlier he used to have a job, now he has his own business. He has three stores in a shopping mall, located a bit far from his home. He had leased those out, but the stores remained closed almost throughout March. Russian invasion in Ukraine gained momentum from the second week of March. At that time, life came to standstill in Kyiv.
However, the area Hasinul lives was not stricken. Even his stores remained undamaged. The people he had rented out his stores to have also returned to the city. But they did not pay March's rent. Storeowners were requested to exempt tenants of the rent on behalf of Kyiv city. All of them have tried to honour the request. However, storeowners also have some benefits in doing so, for the tax they pay to the city authorities has been waived too. Even the tax waiver has been extended till April.
Hasinul said, “City authorities have informed us that they presume that the war will end by April. They said in a notice, we won’t have to pay the rent-tax even in the following month after the war ends. That means the tax exemption will continue till May.”
There is strict regulation only on one issue. That is taking pictures in public. Military personnel and volunteers standing on roads as well as announcements on media are frequently requesting not to take photos and circulate them
Hasinul’s family consists of his wife and daughter. He has been living in the city for more than three decades and couldn’t let go of the emotional attachment he has formed with it. That is why he was unable to leave the city, he said. He didn’t even panic when the Russian army attacked Gastomel Airport located near his house. The situation was quite intense for one or two weeks. The sound of shelling could be heard pretty often. But he said, that has reduced considerably now.
There is a bunker underneath his house. They are advised to take shelter there in times of emergency. But, neither Hasinul nor any member of his family had been there even once. The fear has almost disappeared now. Hasinul is amazed at the role of the government as well as his neighbours during the war period. He said, “I witnessed empathy towards each other even more in the wartime. Even the government is doing as much as possible for the citizens.”
Hasinul says at present there is strict regulation only on one issue. That is taking pictures in public. Military personnel and volunteers standing on roads as well as announcements on media are frequently requesting not to take photos and circulate them. He believes this restriction has been put in place considering citizen’s safety.
Another Kyiv resident Mohammad Habibur Rahman also confirmed about the strict rules employed against photography. He too has been in the city for more than three decades. He married a Ukrainian woman and the couple has two children. He lives in Niproski. His elder son named Mohammad Taiyeb is fighting in the war on Ukrainian’s side and has not returned home yet. But, Habibur said he is safe out there. Habibur’s village home is in Gazipur.
The place Habibur lives in is only a little bit away from Ukrainian parliament building. So, the security system in the area is tighter. No incident of any attack occurred in this area either, he said. However, he said that the Russian army bombarded the metro located few kilometres away from his home.
Habibur said the area he lives in Kyiv was not attacked but the affected areas are now being cleansed and eviscerated. And for that job volunteers are being called for by the government.
Habib said, “Many have volunteered for the work. Even I can join, if they ask. In reality severe fighting is not going on anymore. The situation has calmed a lot. We are seeing rehabilitation work going on everywhere like the one that is done once the war has concluded.”
Habibur has a garment business at Troieshchyna area in the city. The mall where his clothing store is located has not been affected yet. He is currently surviving on his savings. In reply to the question what he will do if the situation does not stabilise soon he said, “I have two brothers living in Italy. They will help. Plus, I have friends here. I believe there will be no problem.”
All wars end someday. It’s bound to happen. Let that day come fast. Let Ukrainian people return to their homeland and live peacefully just like beforeMahbub Alam, resident of Kyiv
In all there were almost 500 Bangladeshi in Kyiv city, guesses Mahbub Alam. However he said, currently there are only about 30 people living there. Mahbub moved to Ukraine in 1982 for higher studies. Later, he stayed there after completing his studies. At present he is working as an honorary advisor with the Bangladesh consulate in Ukraine. He works with the Bangladesh embassy in Poland.
Mahbub said, leaving Kyiv he moved to Lviv when the war broke out. His house and workplace in Kyiv has remained unaffected until now. Russian army launched rocket attack on a training and exercise centre of the air force and an airplane maintenance factory beside the airport located a bit away from Lviv. They also attacked an oil depot in Lviv city. More than 50 people died and 150 to 200 people got injured in those areas along with extensive destruction.
Mahbub Alam also said that the war condition has improved a bit. He believes a tiny ray of hope has been found after the bilateral discussions between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul. However it seems to him that the recent press statement given by the Russian president’s press secretary Peskov as well as the Russian army’s gradual incursive role has besmirched that ray of hope.
Mahbub Alam said, “All wars end someday. It’s bound to happen. Let that day come fast. Let Ukrainian people return to their homeland and live peacefully just like before. I believe, this is the wish of all the sound-minded and peace-loving people around the world.”
* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Nourin Ahmed Monisha