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: