The Russian military continues shelling Ukrainian critical infrastructure, so serious energy-saving measures have been implemented in the cities.

In this photo report, Gwara Media shows the Kharkiv streets in the evening and how the residents adapt to live in the dark.

Power cuts and network disruptions

“Energy cut” has become the word of the month – or, to be precise, months – for the Ukrainians. During this time, we have learned that power outages can be planned, emergency, or stabilizing. In reality, all these power cuts look the same: electricity goes out in our houses, and then the water goes out either.

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Car headlights are the only source of light in the city / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Today we may have no light for several hours, and tomorrow whole eight or 12. Sometimes there are no outages at all.

Besides the residential buildings, mobile operators also suffer from blackouts. In theory, the cell towers are equipped with autonomous backup power sources. In reality, when the entire residential area is cut off, they also stop working. In just a few hours, the “sag” of the network becomes notable, and even the 4G mark does not guarantee that you will be able to download an Internet page.

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Nova Poshta postal service keeps shipping the Kharkiv residents` parcels despite the total blackout / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

The same happens to the Internet at home. So with each outage, hundreds of thousands of Kharkiv residents find themselves in a “digital vacuum.”

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Kharkiv residents use flashlights at bus stops so that drivers can see that someone is waiting for transport / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

The streets in the dark

The changes in Kharkiv now compared to the pre-war city become most noticeable with the onset of dusk. It’s getting dark early now, and the street lights haven’t been working since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Even on Sumska, the main city street which used to be the center of active life before the war, darkness reigns after about five in the evening.

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Some kiosks are illuminated. So at least you can see the direction where to go. / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

In some places, the shops` signs are still illuminated, which somewhat helps with navigation.

Many people who ramble the streets at night – walking their dogs or on their way home from the subway – use their mobile phones to light their way. Some highlight the whole route, while others turn on the flashlight only at pedestrian crossings, as the traffic lights usually don’t work during outages.

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The flashlight is a basic necessity for anyone who plans to move around the city / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

At such moments, you start to consider purchasing reflective clothes. For pedestrians, this accessory will definitely not be excessive.

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The businesses also reduce their electricity consumption, so the external lighting of facades and offices is turned off / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Transport

The Russian attacks cause transport collapse when the subway and other electric transport stop operating. Then the buses come to the rescue, as they can run on trolleybus routes.

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The bus waiting for passengers in Constitution Square / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

So all the passengers returning from work transfer to minibuses, buses, and taxis.

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Kharkiv trolleybus on Gagarin Avenue / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Text by Denys Glushko

Translated by Tetiana Fram