A wedding broadcast by mobile that explains the war in Ukraine | International

They were the last rings in the jewelry store. The factory is in Kramatorsk and, for now, the war has strangled production in this eastern city, the most troubled area of ​​Ukraine. “What irony!” Oleksii Otkydach, 24, points out in perfect Spanish. Every detail of his wedding with Kristina Bohdiazh, 22, is filtered by the conflict that engulfs the country. She is originally from the city of Donetsk, in the hands of the Russians. He, from Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula, illegally occupied since 2014 by the Moscow authorities. Among them, like millions of Ukrainians, they speak Russian, but they were educated halfway between the two languages. Between these two historians, the eight years of relationship weigh more than the impossibility of their relatives being able to attend the wedding in kyiv. “We had been talking about the wedding for some time and we didn’t want to die without getting married,” says the young man, imprinting a certain fatalistic patina on his decision.

The retransmission by Skype, on the 4th, keeps the spouses in kyiv and their parents and siblings in the occupied areas looking out the conciliatory window of the telephone. Kristina turns the mobile to introduce the handful of guests who are tucking them in. Both show the rings on the screen at the end of the ceremony, a protocol act without further ado closed by a kiss, the delivery of a document by the official and applause from those present. No rite in the church, no families, no party… “It’s the first time I’ve attended an express wedding,” acknowledges Pavlo, 31, amid the stale and decrepit atmosphere of a building that seems to have been anchored decades ago. This setting is known as the central palace for special events, a factory where serial and impersonal weddings are held in the capital every quarter of an hour. Afterwards, a walk with 11 friends around the city to take photos and lunch with them in the middle of the afternoon in a restaurant. Clever. Not even a “Long live the bride and groom!”.

They pose in a park and in front of the Saint Sophia Cathedral. But they also choose to do it in front of one of the Russian tanks cashed in as a prized piece of the enemy. The authorities have moved several armored vehicles to a square in kyiv for the enjoyment of residents in an improvised open-air war museum. Although they are not dressed in the traditional wedding attire, the two draw the attention of dozens of passers-by who pass them. “We’re going modern and traditional at the same time,” explains Oleksii. He thus justifies that they both wear sneakers, but, in a patriotic wink, they also wear the vishivanka, national garment enriched with embroidery. He does it in the form of a shirt and she in a dress, in addition to wearing a spectacular crown of flowers, also traditional.

Oleksii and Kristina, militant vegetarians and animal activists, met in 2013 during a competition for History Alumni. She was champion from Donetsk, he from Sevastopol. “Kristina was one point away from being the champion of Ukraine”, comments Oleksii proudly. On that Soviet model to choose the best they built the foundations of their relationship. They fell in love between questions about Greece, Rome, Egypt, old Europe… She remembers how in 2014 they were put to the test with images of the different monuments that exist in the world in honor of the poet Taras Shevchenko, since it was two centuries since his birth . They had to identify the city in which each one is located.

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In the midst of the spring atmosphere, kyiv today is a city that has nothing to do with the ghostly scenario from which the population was fleeing when it was about to be invaded by the Russians at the end of February. Fighting surrounded a nearly deserted city for weeks. In fact, the wedding takes place after some of the bride and groom’s friends have returned after escaping to safer parts of the country. But not even this scenario of some optimism and away from the fighting in the east, where Kristina’s family is, serves to give a festive air to the day. “The war is going to last at least until 2023. I already have some friends at the front and I am afraid that we are all going to have to go through there. But better dead than living under Russia, ”says Artem, 25, one of the guests.

The group of 13 has just taken a photo in front of the Taras Shevchenko National University, the one with the monuments of the History test, known as The Red by the color of the building. “We wanted to have this image because most of us have studied here,” explains the boyfriend. The photographer, who does not take her eyes off what happens and makes them pose in every possible way, is the same one who works portraying the animals of the shelter in which Kristina collaborates.

Bride and groom and guests pose in front of the Taras Shevchenko National University, known as La Roja because of the color of the building, where most of them studied.
Bride and groom and guests pose in front of the Taras Shevchenko National University, known as La Roja because of the color of the building, where most of them studied.Luis de Vega

Their dog, a mixed German Shepherd who is one more member of the family, will accompany them on the journey they hope to undertake in September. Oleksii has received a scholarship to extend her studies abroad for two years. Six months in Salamanca, six in Stockholm, six in Paris and another six in some Latin American country.

But his departure from Ukraine is up in the air. Under the current martial law imposed in the shadow of war, men between the ages of 18 and 60 cannot leave the national territory, except with special permission. The couple, who speak half a dozen languages, including Spanish, depend on the approval of the kyiv government to be able to fulfill their plans. It is what they have to request, already as husband and wife, with the documentation that comes from the University of Salamanca.

The final fireworks of a wedding corseted by the war protocol arrives by courtesy of the bombardment that falls on kyiv at dawn on Sunday. It had been 38 days since the Ukrainian capital had been attacked. Around six in the morning, Oleksii —Alejo calls him when they speak in Spanish— and Kristina end their wedding night sheltered in the bathroom of their house listening to the missiles launched by the Russians fall. “Another irony”, settles the groom without losing his good humor.

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