The diary of two sisters separated by the war in Ukraine


By Elisa Mignot

Published on May 30, 2022 at 09h20, updated at 09h59 on May 30, 2022

Olga and Sasha are two Ukrainian sisters. 34-year-old Olga works in a wine shop in Paris, where she has been living for seven years. Her younger sister Sasha is 33 years old and lives in Kyiv, like her mother and her partner, Viktor. After spending the first weeks of the conflict with them, Sasha has now moved into a small apartment, where she lives alone with her dog. Since the beginning of the war, the two sisters have agreed to keep a diary for Le Monde.

More in this series: Subscribers only ‘I got up this morning feeling very proud: Ukraine won the Eurovision!’: The diary of two sisters separated by the war in Ukraine

Tuesday, May 17

Olga: This evening I had a drink with a girlfriend and we talked about one of my best friends, S. I was with him in elementary school. He and his father are very famous ceramists in Kyiv. They have hung small bronze sculptures around the city to symbolize the history of Kyiv. There is the Kyiv chestnut tree, the Kyiv streetcar, the Kyiv cake… I especially like the chicken sculpture, their very first one.

Chicken Kyiv is an institution! I love that dish. It’s chicken with herb butter, dill and grated or pressed garlic. When I lived in Ukraine, I never cooked it. I prepared it in France for Yanis [her partner] and he loved it. We had it again in Kyiv last summer. As we walked around the city, I showed him my favorite places and we stopped at a small restaurant where Ukrainian soldiers returning from the Eastern Front used to go. These memories fill my eyes with tears.

Sasha: Our father had eye surgery and Viktor’s father was diagnosed with cancer. He’s going to have surgery as well. The news is disturbing enough, but with the war surrounding us, it becomes almost unbearable. Besides that, the days pass quickly. They are intense. I am learning my new job. I like it.

Tonight was the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival. President Zelensky gave a surprise video speech. It was very strong. He talked about Charlie Chaplin and his movie The Great Dictator. I am blown away every time he speaks. I wish I was part of the team that imagines and writes what he says. I know that he is also very involved in writing his speeches. Me being a movie lover, it was very special to see him speak in Cannes.

Alright, I’m going to bed early because I’m trying to get used to my new 10-7 (French time) work routine. It’s a bit hard because, for years, I’ve been used to working whenever I want and can.

More in this series: Subscribers only ‘I’m obsessed with the idea that Putin might use nuclear weapons’: The diary of two sisters separated by the war in Ukraine

Wednesday, May 18

Olga: Our father had eye surgery yesterday. So stressful! When I tell it to someone here, people unanimously reply, “Is that true? But are the clinics working? But there is a war!” Yes, life goes on in the cities where there is no imminent danger.

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