For more than two months, Dr. Ali-Shakh no longer has a personal life. It rebuilds, fills, repairs … constantly the wounds inflicted on Russian civilians and soldiers by Russian troops. He also reluctantly treats soldiers from Moscow for possible prisoner exchanges.
The young doctor says he “practically lives” at the military hospital in Zaporijjia, a large southern city located just a few dozen kilometers from the front. At night you can sometimes hear the roar of bombs in the distance.
As Russia has largely withdrawn from northern Ukraine and focused its efforts on the Donbass region and the south of the country, this industrial city is at the forefront of hosting internally displaced persons and war wounded.
Farad Gokharovitch Ali-Shakh claims to work “twenty hours” a day and sometimes operates up to twenty patients in a row.
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, thick tarpaulins have been placed in front of the hospital’s windows to prevent it from becoming too visible from the sky and becoming a target for the Russian army at night. The WHO on Saturday lamented “200 attacks on health institutions” in Ukraine since the outbreak of hostilities.
The tarpaulins are also there to prevent shards of glass from injuring patients in the event of a bombing, while the first houses in Zaporijjia were hit a week ago by a Russian rocket.
The hospital is therefore largely thrown out into the dark, even in broad daylight. Conversations are conducted by the light of a desk lamp. Patient radiographs assume spectral shades. The pictures the doctor shows on his phone just look bloodier.
On one of them we see a torn leg, which is held only by a piece of skin. “It’s something very common here,” he notes. “We were able to restore the vessels and then fix the ends.” In another, a patient saw his arm almost cut straight through. He too was rescued, the doctor says soberly.
“We have learned to deal with such injuries. We do a very hard job, but we help our country “, answers Dr. Ali-Shakh, questioned about his mental ability to withstand so much pain. So to launch spontaneously: “we even treat Russian soldiers. But maybe we should not. Maybe we should just let them stay there, to use them as fertilizer for our soil”.
And Farad Gokharovich Ali-Shakh to acknowledge a “lack of motivation” when it comes to healing the enemy’s wounds. “But if you take good care of them, you can exchange them for Ukrainian soldiers” the prisoners of the Russians.
Everywhere in the hospital, boxes of clothes, medical products, indicate how urgent the situation is, but also the limited resources that the surgeons have to sacrifice in part to cure “animals”, indignant Commander Viktor Pyssanko, director of the Zaporizhia Military Hospital. .
Russian soldiers “are young people without brains” soaked in “propaganda”, he continues. They claim, according to Commander Pyssanko, that they want to “liberate” Ukraine, but “want to kill as many Ukrainians as possible”. However, the military hospital in Zaporijjia is “trying” to “rescue as many as possible”, he admits, with the sole purpose of “exchanging them with our own soldiers”.
Several prisoner exchanges have taken place since the beginning of the war between Moscow and Kiev. The most famous concerned the mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov, kidnapped on March 11 and then released a few days later. On March 21, Tatiana Moskalkova, the Kremlin’s human rights delegate, spoke about her exchange with nine Russians.
The latest goes back to last Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had reported 41 Ukrainians released: 28 soldiers and 13 civilians. Among the latter a priest from the Orthodox Church.
Thus, at a civilian hospital in Zaporijjia, three Russian soldiers were put back on their feet for three weeks, still under guard, and then handed over to the Ukrainian security forces at the end of April, recalls Dr. Vassily, who does not know what they are. became so.
“These guys are so depressed, crushed out, not aggressive,” says the doctor, who refuses to disclose his last name. Because of this, we have never felt the need to be “despised” of them.
Between relatives, where “dark humor” is the rule, “we joked that we could hurt them. But it stopped there when it comes to working and honoring our Hippocratic oath,” he continues.
And Dr. Vassily for confirming “never having felt the desire to strangle” the Russian soldiers. “If I had those thoughts, I would not be a doctor.”