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Shelling of Retroville. Consequences of the Strike in photos by Pavlo Petrov and Oleg Petrasiuk

On the evening of March 20, 2022, Russian forces launched several strikes on the Podil district of Kyiv. They shelled the Retroville shopping and entertainment center. A part of the shopping center, parked cars nearby, a fitness club, and a business center were destroyed. Adjacent residential buildings, schools, and kindergartens suffered significant damage. Eight people lost their lives on that day.

Photo: Pavlo Petrov

Firefighters received a report about the fire at 10:48 PM and immediately rushed to the scene. "We arrived very quickly – everything was on fire, there was no glass on the first floors of neighboring buildings. On the corner, there was a store with household goods, Leroy Merlin, from which an ax flew out. It flew about a hundred meters from such a blast wave," recalls photographer Pavlo Petrov from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. At the beginning of the full-scale war, firefighters had already received many calls to places hit by rockets, so they were accustomed to massive destruction. However, extinguishing the fire at the Retroville shopping center was challenging because all the facades of the shopping center were made of flammable materials. They had to simultaneously dismantle debris and prevent the spread of flames. Firefighters divided into several groups and worked in different locations – near the facades and inside. They started around eleven in the evening and successfully contained the fire around two in the morning. Over 60 people and 11 pieces of equipment were involved.

“A pipe burst, and the first floor was somewhere ankle-deep in hot water. The air was filled with steam,” the photographer recounts. “I remember the center like that – without light, without a ceiling, with casualties. At the entrance, a person blown up by the explosion lay immediately, and the guys were putting her back together. It triggers me a lot to come there now.”

Photo: Pavlo Petrov

Rescuers continued to dismantle the rubble the next day. The fire was massive, and they managed to completely eliminate it by almost noon. “Emotionally, this fire at the shopping center was not the most difficult. Before, we had to work near residential buildings hit by a missile. However, this fire was very large and terrifying. When we just arrived, the facade was still collapsing and crumbling. It was hell,” explains Pavlo Petrov.

Photographer Oleg Petrasiuk arrived at the scene just one day after the bombing of the shopping center on March 22, 2022. He says the sight was horrifying.

“I went there only a day after the shelling. I was shooting the aftermath of the shelling in Kyiv on Salutna Street when I met a colleague, and we decided to drive to Retroville to see it with our own eyes. We took a couple of identical shots, mine in color, his in black and white,” recalls the photographer.

Oleg mentions that these photos were not published anywhere at that time, so he took them for his personal archive.

Photos: View of the destroyed Retroville shopping center on March 22, 2022, in Kyiv

On March 23, Russian forces shelled the Retroville shopping and entertainment center with mortars. Two people lost their lives as a result of the shelling: Oksana Baulina, a journalist from The Insider, who was inspecting the aftermath of the previous strike, and a passerby.

It is worth noting that the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers has initiated a series of materials dedicated to key events of the Russian war against Ukraine, where we will publish memories and photographs of Ukrainian documentary photographers.

The project is implemented with the support of ЗМІN.


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