'Being bombarded is easier than leaving your home' - Life and escape from besieged city of Kharkiv

As Russian forces indiscriminately targeted Kharkiv, resident Anastasia Paraskevova documented life in the besieged city and her escape from it, for ITV News

There is a sign on the southern edge of Kharkiv which sums up the passion felt by residents for Ukraine’s second city. “I love Kharkiv” is formed from large concrete letters, the “love” abbreviated to a red heart.

It used to be a place where young people would pose for a selfie while sipping a coffee and chatting to their friends. But now the crimson of that heart has come to symbolise the blood spilt in a city which has endured two weeks of Russian shelling and missile attacks.

This battlefield used to be home to 1.4 million people. Now, while many have fled west, there are still many hundreds of thousand of men, women and children trapped in a nightmare of Vladimir Putin’s making.

The attacks come without warning and appear to be indiscriminate in their targeting. One day a shopping centre can be hit with rockets, another a residential apartment block.

Photos far too graphic to publish here show people cut down as they queue for bread, their blood leaching into the snow where they died. War crimes on a street corner, barely making news amid the constant torrent of death coming from Ukraine.

Parts of Kharkiv have been razed to the ground by Russian missile strikes. Credit: AP

There is slaughter in neighbourhoods which have no military significance. The people are targeted simply because they are there.

Trying to get across what life is like inside this city is not easy. We have been to Kharkiv four times now to give the world a glimpse into the abyss. But I think the most moving way to document what is happening is to allow its people to talk for themselves.

It’s why we commissioned one brave young woman to compile a video diary of a week inside the siege of Kharkiv.

Anastasia Paraskevova, is 28, a translator, who studied sociology at the city’s university.

Russian missiles have hit Kharkiv indiscriminately. Credit: AP

Through her eyes, I hope you get a sense of a city and a family slowly being stripped of any sense of normality; the gradual privations which cumulatively make their lives unbearable.

Stalked by a growing sense of fear, she documents how every aspect of her life is eroded by conflict.

Her defiance and anger shine through in every update, reflected across the country by millions of others experiencing similar hardship.

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