The whole city under its steel president The war in Ukraine

A city that cannot deny its mining history. Just look at the long chimneys of many steel mills that seem to challenge time.

Kryvyi Rih cannot deny its history, where the metallurgical industry occupies a large place.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Parts of this long city look like ruined rural villages with brick houses and buildings that have a distinct Soviet look. The municipality, with a population of over 600,000, has this little gray side of steel towns, but above all, it’s hard as steel to protect itself for its survival.

The city of Kryvyi Rih cannot hide its Soviet past.

Photo: Radio Canada

Metallurgical fortress

When in the first days of the war the Russians tried to take President Zelensky’s hometown in a column of tanks, they got the typical reaction of a steel city: large trucks blocked the airport runway and closed the road to the neighboring city of Nikolaev. giant mining trucks about 40 minutes before the arrival of the Russian column.

Such a reaction, which is unlikely to surprise Kryvyi Rih residents, people of honor, words and actions, explains Serhiy Milyutin, as well as the city’s favorite, the Ukrainian president, he added.

Serhiy Milutin, Deputy of Kryvyi Rih

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

He knows what he is talking about, he first met Volodymyr Zelensky at the age of 17 in 1996, when they took part in a popular television competition for improvised and comedic works. Friendly competition in which the future president won.

Favorite president

The strong guy, who has now become the deputy mayor of the city, recognizes the features of a man from a working-class city. To be a good leader, you must establish your authority and you will be respected; and this is what the president has always done throughout his life, first as an actor and then as a politician.

Kryvyi Rih district 95, where the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky was born and raised.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

In the district where the Ukrainian president grew up, district 95, it is enough to say Zelensky’s name so that passers-by can speak only good things about him.

Tatiana, 30, who lives next door, admires him because, unlike other presidents, Zelensky remained in the country when Russia’s invasion began. He is doing his best in this war, and I believe he will deserve a second term after the war. The war from which she is convinced that Ukraine will be the winner.

And when we ask the young city barber Vladlen if he sees guilt in his president, he answers in the negative: No, he’s a good man. He himself admits that wartime patriotism probably explains this blind faith in his president.

Andriy Shaikan, a classmate of Volodymyr Zelensky, heads the Institute of Economics at Kryvyi Rih University.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Zelensky, a student comedian and unifier

To learn more about the identity of the president, you must visit the university where he studied. Vladimir Zelensky’s classmates celebrated the passage in the building of the Kryvyi Rih Economic Institute.

Andriy Shaikan is standing next to a wooden desk, all painted in royal blue, which the school kept in honor of the first famous actor and president, who he later became. He mentions his colleague from law and finance courses. If you look at Zelensky’s personality, some think he always plays because he’s an actor, he says. However, it is primarily a manager who fully controls the business. As it was during my schooling here. And he had a very fine sense of humor.

Natalia Volosheniuk, professor of the Kryvyi Rih Economic Institute

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

The same story from Professor Natalia Volosheniuk, who taught young Volodymyr’s finances and economics in the 1990s, and the qualities he demonstrated then are the same today. In those first years he was distinguished by decency, honesty and desire to achieve goals. He was already a leader because he knew how to unite and unite the world around him.

A city that targets Russians

After Russia failed to take control of Zelensky a few weeks ago, Russia could try again to take over the city and the resources it produces, according to constant rumors. A threat that does not frighten residents at all. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, it would be a symbolic and strategic prize to capture the homeland of his enemy, Ukraine.

Head of the city military administration Oleksandr Vilkul

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the city’s military department, is not too worried about this. With his green cap, which has the same shape worn by one of his idols, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, he likes to delineate the current front line between Ukraine and Russia, about forty kilometers south of Kryvyi Rih. No one can say that he is safe today because of the Russian invader, but here in the city, we have troops ready to intervene in any situation.

Vilkul is convinced that his president, a strong man of his country and hometown, will be able to lead his troops to victory. We just need foreign countries to send us ammunition and military equipment as soon as possible so that we can end the war.When is it needed? we ask him. “Yesterday”he answers directly.

The city of steel, Kryvyi Rih, remained frozen in time.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Frédéric Arnould

Despite all the praise, do not try to look for a life-size statue or cry of the president in Kryvyi Rih. Even with such unwavering support. The bearded giant, who is his colleague in the competition, Sergei Milutin, offers a ready answer. We don’t have a statue of him, but we have something even cooler, he is in our hearts and he is the pride of this city and this country.