Snapshots from underground. A photographer captures life in Kharkiv’s subway station bomb shelters as shelling continues

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Before the war came to Kharkiv, Pavel Dorogoy specialized in documentary and archival photography, and captured his hometown’s architecture. Today, Pavel mainly works as a volunteer, but he continues to document life in the city during the war. In early March, he started taking photos and videos in the subway stations in one of Kharkiv’s outlying neighborhoods, where thousands of local residents hide during air raids. According to Pavel, a single station can shelter up to 500 people in the evenings — volunteers prepare food (serving children and women first) and, when not taking turns sleeping under piles of blankets, people try to catch a few moments to themselves. Pavel has been living in the subway throughout the war, along with his wife (a station worker) and their two children. With his permission, Meduza shares Pavel Dorogoy’s photos and videos of life in Kharkiv’s underground.

The lights are always turned on in the stations. Everyone sleeps at different times.
Children’s drawings on display in one of Kharkiv’s subway stations
At six o’clock in the morning, the hermetic gates open and people begin to leave the subway stations. Some head home, while others go to work. Most of them return by evening — people are afraid to stay in their home at night.
A Kharkiv resident walks from one station to another through a subway tunnel
Now, subway cars are used for sleeping. They’re considered “VIP spots,” Pavel Dorogoy says.
Volunteers prepare most of the food available here, bringing it into the subway every day. Food is distributed to children and women first, then to everyone else.
Every day, a group of men cook porridge for the children in this particular station

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Photos and videos by Pavel Dorogoy

Translation by Eilish Hart

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