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Two strikes. Consequences of the rocket attack on Pokrovsk in the photos of Viacheslav Ratynskyi

The Druzhba Hotel in Pokrovsk is destroyed by a Russian missile strike. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

On the evening of August 7, 2023, the Russian army launched two missile attacks on the center of the city of Pokrovsk in Donetsk region. As a result of the attack, multi-story residential buildings were destroyed, 88 people were injured, and 10 were killed.

The Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers publishes photographs by Vyacheslav Ratynsky, who captured the aftermath of the rocket attack on Pokrovsk.

Two houses

On the evening of August 7, 2023, the Russian military fired two Iskander missiles at the city of Pokrovsk. The first missile strike was at 19:15 on a high-rise building, and the second at 19:52 on a neighboring building. The second strike came at a time when police and rescuers had already arrived at the scene of the first explosion. As a result of the missile attack, multi-storey residential buildings, private buildings, and a hotel were destroyed, 88 people were wounded, including two children, and 10 people were killed. Among the wounded were many police officers and rescuers who arrived after the first missile strike and came under repeated attack.

Throughout August 2023, photographer Viacheslav Ratynskyi worked in Zaporizhzhia and Zaporizhzhia region. On August 7, he and his colleagues went to shoot the artillery of the 37th Marine Brigade. "We arrived close to the positions early in the morning, where we waited all day for permission to film. We started working at 4 p.m.," recalls Viacheslav Ratynskyi. "We were photographing the crew of the M109 self-propelled artillery system. The guys had just received cluster shells and were firing them at the occupiers. We managed to shoot just a few shots and mines started flying nearby. The military decided to change their position to avoid getting under fire, and we were ordered to get out. We went back to Zaporizhzhia."

The crew of the 37th Marine Brigade on the M109 self-propelled artillery system in Donetsk region. August 7, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

When Viacheslav, after two hours of travel, had almost reached Zaporizhzhia, information began to emerge about a powerful shelling of Pokrovsk in Donetsk Oblast. The Russian army had struck the city center, including a residential building where the Don Carleone pizzeria was located. Ratynsky and his colleagues turned back to the Donetsk region.

Pizzeria and hotel

Information about the rocket attack on Pokrovsk was slow to arrive and was inaccurate. A short time later, there was a report of a second strike - on the Druzhba Hotel near the pizzeria. "Rescuers, police, medics and volunteers were already working at the site of the first explosion. People were helping the victims of the first strike and at that moment the Russians struck again," says Vyacheslav Ratynsky.

August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

The photographer recalls staying at the Druzhba Hotel before. "At the beginning of the summer, I stayed at the hotel for a month, and ate breakfast and dinner every day at the Don Carleone pizzeria. The staff there was very friendly. When I entered the hotel for the first time, I had a depressing and unpleasant feeling. I was convinced that sooner or later the Druzhba Hotel would be attacked," says Ratynsky. He lived on the fifth floor in a room that was located somewhere in the middle of the building. The hotel was always full to the brim: journalists, volunteers, and military personnel stayed there to rest and meet with their families. Luckily, the hotel was empty at the time of the missile strike - people had been evicted the day before because of the threat of an attack.

August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Lydia and Valentina

Vyacheslav Ratynsky and his colleagues arrived at the scene of the tragedy at midnight. It was very dark, and the rescue services and police were finishing their work. "I filmed the damaged buildings and decided to find a higher point to shoot from. I went up to the building opposite. On the top floor, I met a resident of one of the apartments who was desperately knocking on her door," says Viacheslav. The woman's name was Lidiya, her face was covered with bruises and cuts, and her clothes were covered in blood. She was at home during the rocket attack and was hit by shards of glass from the broken windows. Medics took Lidiya to a local hospital for treatment. When she returned, the apartment door was locked. She explained that her elderly father had apparently locked himself in the apartment and was sleeping.

Lidia cannot get into her apartment. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

The door to Valentyna's apartment is locked. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Another woman, Valentyna, looked out of the neighboring apartment. The door of her apartment was bent inward and would not open. Viacheslav helped her open the door and went inside. "Everything was upside down. The woman was disoriented and confused, fortunately, she was not seriously injured. She couldn't find her phone and glasses in the mess. Her balcony overlooked the street and the destroyed buildings," the photographer recalls.

Valentyn in his apartment, at night and in the morning. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Then Viacheslav Ratynskyi went to a local hospital, but most of the wounded had already been taken to a hospital in Dnipro. "There was a group of rescuers standing at the entrance, nervously waiting for news about their injured colleagues who were being resuscitated in the hospital. After a while, the wounded were transferred to ambulances and taken to Dnipro. It was already late at night, so we went to look for a place to spend the night," says Ratynskyi.

August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

In the morning, the photographer and his colleagues returned to the scene of the tragedy. The State Emergency Service was already working there, clearing away the rubble, the utilities were cleaning the street, and the residents of the surviving buildings were cleaning up their shattered apartments.

August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Viacheslav decided to go back up to the house and ask how the women he had met that night were doing. "I knocked on Lidiya's door, she opened it and invited me inside. The apartment was all turned upside down, the windows were broken. The woman said she felt fine. However, her face was still covered in baked blood," says Vyacheslav Ratynsky.

Valentina in her apartment in the morning. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi

At some point, the photographer noticed that someone was sleeping on the bed in the next room, covered with a blanket. "I was very impressed by this picture: outside the window I could see a destroyed hotel, the apartment was badly damaged, and an elderly man was sleeping peacefully on the bed. It was Lydia's father, 85-year-old Volodymyr, who had locked himself in the apartment at night and was sleeping," says Vyacheslav Ratynsky. "Lydia explained that her father was sleeping in the same place at the time of the attack. The broken window flew over his head, and he didn't even wake up."

Volodymyr, 85, sleeps in his apartment near the epicenter of Russian strikes. August 8, 2023. Photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi


Viacheslav Ratynskyi - is a Ukrainian documentary photographer and photojournalist. He has been working in the field of photojournalism for over 10 years. He cooperates with international and Ukrainian news agencies and media, including Reuters, The Guardian, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine and others.

He has been published in many Western and Ukrainian media, including: The Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Telegraph, The New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and others.

He has participated in numerous photo exhibitions in Europe, the USA, Japan and South Korea. His photographs have been published in several books.

Viacheslav Ratynskyi works in Ukraine. His work explores the impact of war on society, social and political issues.


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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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