Ukraine’s songs of innocence and experience
A story with four priests, a dead body, and a young girl.
Journalism is too opaque and misunderstood. Chills gives a behind-the-scenes look at how dangerous investigative journalism gets made.
I was in a small village called Ozera, about an hour northwest of Kyiv, seated in the rose-filled garden of a Ukrainian Orthodox priest named Andriy Dudchenko when I heard about the murder of a local man.
Journalism side note: The linked story above is also about priests. As I tell my journalism students, always find your rabbi when you report somewhere new — aka the person who can connect you to locals. In the case of Ukraine, the rabbi is often … a priest.
One of Dudchenko’s neighbors, an unsmiling man named Ivan Boiko, crossed the street to join us in the garden. He wanted to tell us about his close friend, Andriy Voznenko, 42, who had been found dead after being tortured. As he relayed the nightmarish story, small drops fell from the sky, which was blanketed in gray.
Voznenko had driven a truck for Boiko’s wife’s company, and after the town of about 800 people was occupied in February, he delivered food to his village — and gave information about Russian positions to the Ukrainian military.
On March 18, Voznenko went to a friend’s house to shower and shave, both of which were hard to do during the occupation because of disruptions to the water supply and a scarcity of items like shaving cream. The fact that he shaved that day helped in figuring out what happened to him next.
Priests II and III
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