08.03.2022 | Day 13
It is the thirteenth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Researcher and art historian Asia Bazdyrieva remains in Ukraine, south of Kyiv with her family. She has shared a diary entry on Instagram for every day of the war so far. Here is her entry for Tuesday 8 March 2022—also International Women’s Day—republished above as images, and below as text-transcript with kind permission of the author.
I go out to get flowers, it’s March 8th. Flower kiosks are open. I prefer tulips, but tulips are cash only. Cash is scarce, ATMs no longer work, but cards do so I proceed to the supermarket where I find Hyacinths. Women’s hygiene products are out of stock everywhere.
It’s been quiet for a few days now in our area. No sirens. No panic. I took note of what S. told me the other day: “It is important to clearly mark dates and reflect on how things change. Reflect, analyze, structure this flow.” It’s all I do now.
Now our lives— all of them— are reduced to war, through a “profoundly cybernetic event of control and communication” (S.). Last night we sat with my dad to discuss who knows what. This is a new routine now as we have different sources of information through which similar fears are distributed by different affects. I said that Bellingcat shared supposedly authentic FSB information, according to which this summer there will be a famine. Ukraine is the larger exporter of grain and there will be no grain.
— I don’t believe that the famine is possible again,- my dad said.
— Could you ever believe that fascism was possible again?
— And here we are.
We agreed to stock up our flour resources and I said I needed to look up online how to preserve it.
If I considered leaving? Yes, I did. Yet by now, I’m mostly interested in how the nature of these considerations has changed across the full spectrum. A few days ago I was in a panic, I feared isolation and violence. Given the evidence, there is no crime that Russians cannot do. I recalled my friends being detained, kept in basements, tortured in Donbas for their articulate political position- for months. My fear was physical and very real. I was thinking about evacuation, and then I was thinking about my parents whom I didn’t want to leave behind, and then I cursed Russians for putting me in the position of needing to choose between staying endangered with my family and becoming a refugee. Then I gave myself one more day to think about it, and then one more, and then one more.
And then the fear was over. By now I don’t think that Russia can win this war. Their army is a Potemkin village, their state is a Potemkin village, they sell glass beads in a form of a national idea. What is very real though is the consequences.
I received a notification that I, as a freelancer who lost income due to the war, I can receive a one-off payment from the government — about 200$. Then I found out I was not eligible because my tax office resides in an area that is considered not damaged by the war.
Then a former Fulbright fellow asked if I had an apartment on Airbnb because people from all over the world book apartments in Ukraine to support people. And then I said I don’t have real estate, neither my money comes this way. I earn through teaching, which is now canceled entirely. Who needs art history now? (Do I need art history now?).
How long can I live while being reduced entirely to the war? Existentially, economically.
Insomnia is back. When I cannot sleep I read western media. Their analytics now goes as follows:
It is economically beneficial for the west to close the sky now. So not because Ukrainians deserve to live, but because sooner or later—when Baltic states (NATO) are endangered – the west will have to do it anyways. So why postpone it and spend so much money on the refugees in the meantime.
Also, my Hyacinth: