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“Getting married in the metro. The mayor is coming. You are invited!”

– Story of Anton and Anastasiia, medics from Kharkiv

Monday, the 320th day of the war

“This photo is about resilience and invincibility of the Kharkiv people, despite the death, destruction, and massive loss” - Sehii Bobok, author of the photo that got in the rating of The Guardian.


… The first time we met was when I brought my son, Anton, for a doctor's consultation in 2020. He is a dentist, and I am a nurse in the chemotherapy department for cancer patients. During the first meeting, he seemed like a very serious doctor, but I immediately liked him.

After that, he found me on Instagram and texted “you are very beautiful”. I answered “I am pleased”. For the following 2 days, we chatted about everything in the world. And on Monday Anton was waiting for me near my workplace with a rose bouquet.

We started living together already after the first date. At the beginning of the war in March, we celebrated the first anniversary of our life together. And after a couple of days, we got married.

But let me start from the beginning.

“I have no home”

Before the war, I rented out my apartment and moved in with Anton. It was the first complicated step for me.

Usually, in all the previous relationships my partners were living at my place. It felt safe to always have the option to say “Get out of here!” because it is my house.

But in this situation, I moved out, and the war started. Every time I listen to the song “У мене немає дому” (eng. - I have no home), I remember shattered widows in my apartment in Saltivka (area of Kharkiv city). It hurts…

Anton had his own clinic, and other doctors working with him. But after several shellings of the building, he was left without a job. And my Institute of Medical Radiology was unable to provide assistance for some time after the start of the war. Probably on the second or third day, Anton and I made an announcement on Instagram that we could provide help to people living in our area.

People started calling us, and we drove to them. Anton provided dental care, I inserted drips, made injections, and bandages. At first, we received one or two calls a day, and later we "celebrated" 100 extracted teeth at home.

Pharmacies in Kharkiv were closed in the first days of the war, so the city was left almost without pharmacies and medicines. Two weeks after the start of the war, we were invited to a volunteer group organized by our friends at a restaurant in the city centre. Humanitarian medical aid was delivered there from other cities and countries, and we were sorting it according to needs. There was a lot of paracetamol, ibuprofen, and bandages but not enough medicines for diabetes, hypertension and other diseases.


In the warehouse, we were overwhelmed with orders that we could not fulfil. And I recorded a video, just from the phone, where I announced a fundraiser to provide specific medicine to Kharkiv residents who needed it. Thanks to the power of Instagram, people responded, and we started volunteering more actively.

I am not a media person and I was on Instagram only to see pictures, I did not have any followers. But in 3-4 months we collected about 1.5-2 million hryvnias. With this money, we bought medicines in Ukrainian warehouses at wholesale prices. Then it was collected, sorted and delivered to the elderly and all those who could not or did not want to come. At that time, there were many mothers with small children in Kharkiv who could not leave them at home to go to the pharmacy.

“...You are my last”

Anastasiia: And then there was my birthday. On March 28, we celebrated 2 years of our joint, but not yet married, life. Anton gave me a wedding ring, as if for an engagement, with the words: "I don't believe in the institution of marriage, but you are the only one I love and I believe that you are my last. Here you go." We were sitting on the balcony, I was drinking wine and it was like a joke. "Let's get married. Imagine how everyone will be shocked when they find out that Sokolov is married!"


Well, I was 37 and I had never been married. I didn't understand why. Before that, I had several serious relationships, but they did not bring a desire to put a stamp on my passport. Somehow, it was wild for me.

Anastasiia said: “Let's have a wedding. We will arrange a big party and draw attention to Kharkiv". She started with a pragmatic point of view. At that moment, it seemed that Kharkiv had been forgotten, and such hype in the form of our marriage would draw attention to the city and help raise more funds to help people. She convinced me in a few hours.

We gathered the mayor of the city, all the press we found in Kharkiv, and volunteers. All acquaintances we have contacts of were engaged. They wrote to their acquaintances, those acquaintances wrote to their acquaintances, and so on. We were driving through Kharkiv to find the reporters. There were many of them in the city, both foreign and Ukrainian, who filmed the war. We just approached them and said that we have a wedding on April 3rd and we would like to do a big photo shoot. "We are getting married in the metro. The mayor is coming. You are invited!". This is how we organized a wedding in 3 days.


The wedding day seemed like a movie. I sat down, looked at Anton and thought: "Oh Lord, what have I done? Now will we handle it?". I just wanted to marry him... that's all! :)

It was very uncomfortable, difficult, and embarrassing with 50 or 100 cameras aimed at us. Photographers were quarrelling with each other about who would take pictures of us, and who disturbed someone's view. And then microphones, interviews...

It seems that the whole world saw our wedding. In the first week after, we received our photos from Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Poland. We were also offered to take an interview by Japan. We were broadcasted in Albania. They even sent me a printed photo from a Chinese newspaper. We also took part in filming the documentary film Beau Willimon (the main screenwriter of the series "House of cards"). Very cool dude! And now they saw that our wedding photo was included in the rating of The Guardian.

Perhaps the coolest wedding movie we could dream of is the one that journalists from Denmark made about us. This is a 40-minute film about our wedding: how we prepared for it, how they made my dress, how I went home before that to my apartment in Saltivka, where the windows were broken... The film turned out very cool and moving.

Anton: Of course, we attracted a lot of attention. The scale was impressive! We were given a lot of money for the wedding, which we used to buy medicine for civilian and military needs. Shower cabins were installed in the hospital so that the doctors who lived there could wash...

We managed volunteering ourselves, having neither experience of how it is done, nor understanding of responsibility to the state for these funds. How to pay taxes later? Should we pay? But everything somehow worked out. We were putting effort, people were grateful, and everything was cool.



And 2 weeks later, we got under fire in the city centre. I was injured.

On April 17, we went out for our volunteer needs, to bring a dryer or a washing machine to the regional hospital.

We brought it and on the way back stopped at the nearest pharmacy to buy something - and there was a big missile strike in the centre of Kharkiv. The Sumy market, the Palace of Marriage, the military hospital… there was a big explosion. A small piece around 3 millimetres got under my knee and cut off an artery and a vein in the leg. It is praise to all the gods that there was a tourniquet in the car.

Somehow I pressed my wound with a finger and dragged myself to the car. My uncle and Nastya ran out there, she put this tourniquet on me and we went to the same place where we just brought the washing machine or dryer.

By the way, on this particular day in the morning, I filmed a video on how to apply a tourniquet. On this very leg.

Nastya: While Anton was in the pharmacy, I sat with the dog in the first seat behind the driver. When it all started, I saw light coming through the window, like fireworks. My first thought was: "Oh my God, how beautiful" because it really looks a lot like fireworks. And then only one thing in my head: "If only Anton were alive." Thanks to uncle Zhenya, he immediately drove the car into the arch, so it was protected. Despite this, it was damaged outside with small fragments, and the dog dragged me under the seat out of fear. When everything quieted down, uncle Zhenya left, the door opened, and I saw that Anton was already limping towards me, shouting: "Tourniquet!", and swearing loudly.

And then - according to the plan: full concentration, act very quickly, no time for emotions.

We brought him to the operating room on the fifth or sixth attempt. We had to wait for the shelling to end. And then the operation lasted about 4-4.5 hours.

At first, Anton was not informed of the seriousness of the injury. The doctor told me: "Well, let's see, we will pray that the leg is warm and does not turn black...".

Anton was in the regional hospital for 2 weeks. He had a wheelchair and crutches, and the department was on the 7-8 floor. He didn't let me out without a bulletproof vest at all, I was like soldier Jane..

"I don't know what else we can be threatened with"

Anton: During these days, while I was lying in the regional hospital, and then undergoing rehabilitation for about a month, Nastya did everything by herself. She was tired, of course, but she managed.

Then, after the end of the rehabilitation, we decided to undergo a normal examination. It turned out that the artery was not working. It clogged in the place of the stitches and constrained the blood flow. Although new small vessels appeared, which circulated a little amount of blood and nourished the foot, this was not enough. Another operation was required. Then my mother-in-law, Victoria Volodymyrivna, found a clinic in Germany that agreed to operate on me for free. I did not really believe that it was possible. It was difficult to leave Kharkiv and to live in a foreign country, but at the same time, Nastya and our son Danya could be away from the war.

We decided everything unanimously: to stay in Kharkiv at the beginning of the war, to go volunteer, and to go to surgery after my injury.

And everything came clear: if in such a situation we are united, then I don't know what else we can be threatened with, what can prevent us from being together and, if possible, enjoying life.

Every day something changes, but I want to believe that our relationship becomes deeper, and our understanding of each other grows. We are doing it together.


We came to each other being mature. Anton is my third husband. The relationship began immediately after a terrible second divorce. Anton needed almost a year to make me relax a little and start trusting him.


Nastya, like many women, asked somewhen at the beginning of the relationship: "You're 37. Over the years, have you come to an image of a woman you like? What are her characteristics? And do I fit them?". And frankly speaking, I had certain preferences before meeting her. But Nastya simply overshone them… What happened to us during the 2 years of our relationship, I have not had this happen for the last 37 years.


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