Life in Ukraine. Live, @ first hand.

How is it possible that we kill each other, torture each other in basements? – Sergiy Zakharov

How is it possible that we kill each other, torture each other in basements? - Sergiy Zakharov

Donetsk artist creates a graphic novel to tell what he experienced in captivity using the language he can speak.

Artist from Donetsk city Sergiy Zakharov paints a graphic novel based on what he saw and experienced when he was held captive by fighters of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic year ago.


The story down below is based on S. Zakharov’s interview with journalist Anastasiya Bagalika for Hromadske radio.


It started with cartoons in Donetsk

Sergiy Zakharov Murzilka

About year ago we informed about ‘Murzilka’ project led by artist Sergiy Zakharov. The aim of the project was to display caricatures of DNR fighters.

Sergiy Zakharov Murzilka

Zakharov says that at that moment he wanted to flood Donetsk with his paintings because he didn’t want to keep it inside. He hoped that his opinion would be noticed by those able to think. He wanted them to understand that what is done in Donetsk is done against their will and without their resistance, and there are other people who think different and are not afraid to express it.

Sergiy Zakharov Murzilka

Then the artist was caught by pro-Russian militants and held captive. After some weeks the man was liberated and moved to Kyiv. Today the man is in search for published who would agree to print out the book Zakharov is currently working on.


Comics without entertainment

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

Many people prefer calling his coming work comics rather than graphic novel. The author underlines that the book would not have anything entertaining. Zakharov says that his story painted in this book is not unique today, such things happen on regular basis these days.

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

However, the art book is supposed to unite stories of other people who have been in the analogical situation and whom the artist has and will meet.

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

The key question he puts is the following: How can this happen in the time we live? We are all educated people. This is a civilized time – and we kill each other, we torture each other in basements. How is it possible? What was the cause and what we will have when we get out of this?

The idea of such work came to the artist about a year ago when he lay in a basement, stared into the ceiling and though that he needed to paint this. Thus he wanted to tell his story in language he speaks.

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

‘If people hear or read about this, they will perceive this through the prism of their experience, upbringing etc. Every person visualizes what he has heard of seen. He visualizes it due to his education, imagination and perception. And if I was an eye-witness, I can make an immediately available picture, thus I can make visual picture, and this must be the most proper language to tell what happened there,’ – the artist explains.

Taking bath is the basement with a bottle of water

Taking bath is the basement with a bottle of water

Sergiy Zakharov currently hasn’t painted many pictures for his book. He says that he is in search for publisher and pains chaotically. As soon as the publisher is found, he will put the definite task, corresponding plan and scenario to know what should be added.

In contrast to traditional comics, the artist wants his paintings to be accompanied by text explanations. He has already found a person to write them.


Other characters in the book

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

Apparently, Zakharov is not the only one character on his paintings. He says that he actually remembers almost every day in captivity and people he has seen there because such negative experience remains in memory better that routine.

The artist has seen many people. Terrorists didn’t sort out or grade their captives, mostly all were kept in the same rooms. Zakharov met pro-Ukrainian people, those who were captured by slander or due to some bad luck, violation of curfew, terrorists imprisoned for some drank fighting.

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

Due to internal struggle for the place under the sun terrorist would throw each other into the cellars, there were those who held high positions.

Zakharov also met Ukrainian servicemen who would later be taken for parade of prisoners.

Sergiy Zakharov paintings

Today Zakharov lives in Kyiv. He underlines stunning contrast between the occupied territories and the capital of Ukraine.

For many people who live in Kyiv war and everything happening in Donbas is no more than picture on TV. ‘Believe me, this is horrible, to imagine your city taken by other people and transforming into something unclear,’ – the artist says.

According to him, the center of Donetsk look nice and clean as it used to be. However, there are district which constantly suffer shelling and many houses there are destroyed.


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