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"A quiet story about the battle for Kyiv region". Photos by Serhiy Korovainyi from the Demydiv

At the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, the Ukrainian military blew up a dam at the entrance to Demydiv. The village is located less than 40 kilometers from Kyiv, and the enemy could quickly approach the capital. However, the flooded area became another line of defense on the outskirts of Kyiv - the Russian army did not cross the Irpin River.

Today, the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers is publishing Serhiy Korovainyi's photos from flooded Demydiv. A month after the retreat of the Russian military from northern Ukraine, part of the village of Demydiv was still under water.

A natural boundary

On February 25, 2022, the Ukrainian Defense Forces blew up a dam on the Irpin River near its confluence with the Kyiv Reservoir. The Russian offensive was stopped, but the village of Demydiv was submerged. Some houses, basements, gardens and orchards were flooded.

Photographer Serhiy Korovainyi arrived in Demydiv in early May. "At first, the story of Demydiv did not seem as dramatic to me as the testimonies from the liberated Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin, or Fanevychi. That is, from towns and villages that the Russians either occupied or severely destroyed, where people were killed or tortured," says Korovainyi. He traveled a lot in the Kyiv and Sumy regions in the first months of the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, documenting stories of occupation and destruction. "Demydiv is such a quiet story about the battle for Kyiv region, but it is no less important, and maybe even more important. Natural boundaries were often used to defend Kyiv and the whole of Ukraine. There are many such cases in our history, and Demydiv is one of the coolest examples," explains Serhiy Korovainyi. The Irpin River partially protected Kyiv from occupation. The Dnipro River now affects the front line in Kherson region and has prevented Russians from occupying right-bank Ukraine.

The Irpin River has become a serious obstacle to the advance of Russian military convoys. In early May, actually a month after the Russians retreated, parts of the village of Demydiv were still flooded. "I have photos of my grandmother Maria, who is 82 years old. Her house and basement are flooded, and she wears rubber boots around the house. However, Grandma Maria, like almost all of her fellow villagers, said that although they did damage, they stopped the Russians. And this act, she said, was the right thing to do," Serhii says.

Even though their farms were damaged, people in Demydiv realized the importance of this step by the Ukrainian military. "I was inspired by the attitude of the people of Demydiv. I was inspired by the fact that, despite the flooded areas, people were working in their yards, planting gardens, trying to manually drain the pieces of land and grow something on them. Such a vibrant Ukrainian village is also very inspiring," says Korovainyi.

The photographer recalls the story of 39-year-old Sashko, who works for the State Emergency Service (the guy with the hose in the photo). At the beginning of last year, there were active hostilities near Kyiv, and the state and the local community did not have the resources to pump out water. Sashko actually took out a pump on his own enthusiasm and pumped water back into the Dnipro River. He said that he wanted to help people, that he was ready to pump out water, but the only thing he lacked was money for diesel for the pump. Sashko said that everything was fine - that's life. "For me, this expression is also about achievement, about the fact that we continue to live on, do our chores and return to normal life. I was very impressed by this attitude of the locals," says Serhiy Korovainyi.

After his trip to Demydiv, Sergiy Korovainyi became interested in the use of natural boundaries in the history of Ukrainian land defense. He continued to research this topic on the example of Ukraine's largest river, the Dnipro.


Sergiy Korovainy is a Ukrainian documentary photographer who actively covers the events of the Russian-Ukrainian war. He collaborates with international publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Guardian, Financial Times and others. In his projects, he focuses on the Russian-Ukrainian war, ecology, and various aspects of Ukrainian modernity. He studied in the United States at the Master's Program in Visual Storytelling as a Fulbright Scholar. In 2018, he joined The Gate, a leading Ukrainian photo agency. Sergiy's work has been exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions in Ukraine, the US and the EU.

Social networks of the photographer:


As a reminder, the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers has launched a series of materials dedicated to the key events of the Russian war against Ukraine, where it publishes memoirs and photographs of Ukrainian documentary photographers.

The project is being implemented thanks to the support of ЗМІN.


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