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«Angels with broken wings». The consequences of the rocket attack on the historic center of Odesa in the photos of Valentyn Kuzan

The heavily damaged Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa. July 23, 2023. Photo by Valentyn Kuzan


On the night of July 23, 2023, the Russian army launched another missile attack on Odesa. The strike partially destroyed the Transfiguration Cathedral and a number of architectural monuments in the city center. More than twenty people were injured and two were killed.


The Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers publishes photographs by Valentyn Kuzan, who documented the aftermath of the missile attack on the historic center of Odesa.


Paradox


On the night of July 23, Russian troops fired 19 missiles at Odesa region. The historic center of Odesa was damaged: more than 20 architectural monuments, including the Transfiguration Cathedral and the House of Scientists, were destroyed or damaged. Many residential buildings in the city center have broken windows and damaged facades. Odesa's port infrastructure was also damaged. More than 20 people were injured as a result of the rocket attack, including 4 children. Two people were killed.


Photo by Valentin Kuzan


Photographer Valentyn Kuzan captured the aftermath of a rocket attack on the historic center of Odesa. As part of a project to document the impact of war by the Institute of Mass Information and UNESCO, Valentyn Kuzan planned to photograph one of the destroyed facilities in Donetsk region. However, when he learned about the explosions in Odesa, he immediately went there. "I arrived in Odesa in the evening. There were a lot of people fussing around the Transfiguration Cathedral - some of the buildings had already been repaired, and the windows with broken glass were covered. "A priest was walking around the church and looking at the aftermath of the arrival," recalls Valentyn Kuzan. "Inside the cathedral, the walls were cracked, the columns were swaying, and it seemed like something was about to fall on his head. However, it was necessary to document everything. I carefully walked around, took a lot of shots, including details, to record this crime thoroughly."


Photo by Valentin Kuzan


Valentyn Kuzan recalls that in 2008 he lived in Odesa and worked as a photojournalist for a local newspaper. "In the course of my work, I had to attend all the significant events for the city. Accordingly, I also photographed the arrival of one of the Russian priests of the Moscow Patriarchate at the Transfiguration Cathedral. This priest had such rhetoric as if Ukraine did not exist as a state. "The Russian Federation has been preparing the ground for the invasion for a long time through the Russian church," says Kuzan. "Accordingly, the Russian army attacked the place where such events took place. For me, it looked very paradoxical - how much the conditions I was there in a few years ago have changed between now and then."


Identity


When Valentyn Kuzan entered the Transfiguration Cathedral, there were already many construction workers there. They were eliminating the consequences of the "arrival" - dismantling the rubble, collecting pieces of glass and destroyed walls. "I remember that they moved the racks on which candles are lit in the church to a separate corner. They were bent, blackened, and covered in soot," Valentyn Kuzan recalls the details of the shooting.


Photo by Valentin Kuzan


The photographer emphasizes that Odessans simply adore their city. "When I lived in Odesa, I realized how dear it is to the locals. Every event in Odesa began with how much they love their city. I remember when trees were planted in front of the cathedral. Just a stranger who was standing there and husking seeds immediately rushed to help plant the trees," says Valentyn Kuzan.


Photo by Valentin Kuzan


On the day of the missile attack on Odesa, it was also evident how much people cared about the fate of their architectural monument. Many Odessans came to the Transfiguration Cathedral, and everyone tried to be useful. "I met a bearded man who was in charge of some of the work at the cathedral. When he found out that I was a photographer, he wanted to take me around the cathedral almost by the hand and show me the destruction. He said, "Look what the Russians did here. Unfortunately, it is only because of such tragic and sad events that most people have now realized who the real enemy is," Valentyn Kuzan concludes.


Photo by Valentin Kuzan


 

Valentyn Kuzan was born in 1986 in the village of Dovhe in Zakarpattia, where he graduated from school and music school with a degree in guitar. He became interested in photography and had his first commercial shoot when he was in the tenth grade.

In 2003, he entered Uzhhorod National University, Faculty of Philology, Department of Journalism. For five years, he hosted live broadcasts on television and radio, interned as a photojournalist under the OSCE program, participated in a photo workshop from Reuters, and co-organized literary events, concerts, and two art festivals, one of which lasted 13 years. As a poet, he was published in anthologies, the most interesting of which was Train 76, edited by Andrukhovych and Boychenko.


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 implemented thanks to the support of IWM Documenting Ukraine.





 

 


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