The young doctor says that he “practically lives” in the military hospital in Zaporizhia, a large southern city located tens of kilometers from the front. At night, you can sometimes hear the roar of bombs from afar.
Since Russia has largely withdrawn from northern Ukraine, focusing its efforts on the Donbass region and the south of the country, this industrial city finds itself at the forefront of hosting internal refugees and war-wounded people.
Farad Djukharovic Ali Shakh claims that he works “twenty hours” a day and sometimes operates on up to twenty patients in a row.
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, thick tarpaulins have been placed in front of hospital windows to prevent them from being seen from the sky and becoming a target for the Russian army at night. The World Health Organization on Saturday condemned “200 attacks on health institutions” in Ukraine since the outbreak of hostilities.
The tarpaulin is also there to prevent, in the event of a bombing, shards of glass not hitting the sick, while the first homes in Zaporizhia were hit a week ago by a Russian missile.
Therefore, the hospital is largely engulfed in darkness, even in broad daylight. Conversations take place by the light of a desk lamp. The patient’s x-rays take spectral colors. The pictures the doctor shows on his phone look even deadlier.
” the animals “
In one of them, we see a torn leg, holding only a piece of skin. “It’s a very common thing here,” he notes. “We were able to restore the ships and then repair their ends.” In another case, a patient saw his entire arm severed. He, too, was saved, says the doctor rationally.
We have learned to deal with such injuries. Dr. Ali Shakh, when asked about his mental ability to withstand so much pain, replied, “We are doing very hard work, but we are helping our country.”
Then spontaneously: “We are dealing even with Russian soldiers. But maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should leave them there, to use them as fertilizer for our land.”
Farad Djukharovich Ali Shakh admitted his “lack of motivation” when it came to healing the enemy’s wounds. “But if you take good care of them, you can replace them with Ukrainian soldiers” Russian prisoners of war.
Everywhere in the hospital boxes of clothes and medical products indicate the seriousness of the situation, but also the limited resources, which surgeons have to partly sacrifice for the treatment of “animals”, exasperated Commander Victor Pisanko, director of the Zaporizhzhya Military Hospital .
He adds that Russian soldiers are “brainless young men” overwhelmed with “propaganda”. They say, according to Commander Pisanko, that they want to “liberate” Ukraine but “want to kill as many Ukrainians as possible”.
The military hospital in Zaporizhia is nevertheless “trying” to “save as many as possible,” he admits, with the sole aim of “exchanging them with our soldiers.”
Many prisoners have been exchanged since the beginning of the war between Moscow and Kiev. The most famous of them was Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who was kidnapped on March 11 and released a few days later. On March 21, the Kremlin’s human rights representative, Tatyana Moskalkova, spoke about her exchange for nine Russians.
The last one dates back to last Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk reported the release of 41 Ukrainians: 28 soldiers and 13 civilians. Among them, the priest of the Orthodox Church.
In a civilian hospital in Zaporizhia, three Russian soldiers were rehabilitated in this way for three weeks, and then handed over to the Ukrainian security forces at the end of April, recalls Dr. Vasily, who does not know what happened to them next.
“These guys seemed depressed, devastated, not aggressive,” says the doctor, who declined to give his last name. Because of that, we never felt the need to ‘disdain’ them.
Among caregivers, where “black humor” is the norm, “We joked about the fact that we could hurt them. But he stopped there when it came to work and honoring the Hippocratic oath.”