Wednesday, April 17

The Asturian who opens the bomb shelter to the neighborhood in a city in Ukraine


Beni Brito he is living through a war and although he says he is not afraid –“I am from La Felguera, no Russian scares me”, he jokes– he spends the nights, from ten at night to six in the morning, stationed in the window of his House. “For now I only see cats and dogs barking, and I hope it continues to be that way”, although he admits that last Sunday he heard shots and when he looked out “there were two stiffs”, two dead men in the street, they were Russians, “two less” .

Brito lives in Vinnytsia, about 250 kilometers southwest of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which is under attack by the Russian army of Vladimir Putin. “No pepinazo has fallen here yet,” he says, but he is also sure that the war that is spreading throughout the country will reach his city, “the Russians will reach everywhere, there are many.” And when the time comes, this 33-year-old Langrean will defend his family “with everything”: his wife, Anna Fernandez, a 30-year-old Ukrainian, and her four-year-old daughter Mia. They are joined from time to time by María, also four years old, daughter of Brito’s father-in-law, who has had to go to the front. María usually lives with her grandmother but spends time at Beni and Anna’s house.

For the time being, this Langrean from La Felguera assures that they are fine “as far as it goes”. In the area where he lives “the tension is beginning”. And the sirens warn them of the bombardments, which for now are far away. Sometimes they go down to the shelter and other times they choose to stay at home.

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Les Langreano’s daughter, Mia (in dress), and Anna’s sister, Maria.

Brito is in charge of activating the protocol of the building in which he lives. “When the sirens sound, I am responsible for opening the door of the shelter, which is two meters from the front door of the house, and keeping an eye out for the neighbors to come in,” he explains. He already has everything ready in case things get complicated, even large headphones so that his daughter can watch the cartoons oblivious to the noise of bombs and gunshots.. At the moment the little girl does not know what a war is, although she has it a few kilometers from her house, and all the precautions they are taking tell her that it is due to the virus, the coronavirus, “which is now Russian ”. They don’t always go down to the shelter when the sirens sound, “because it’s too much stress for the girl.” Brito says that they are “very well informed” and that is why sometimes they prefer to stay indoors, although “if the sirens sound at night, we always go downstairs.”

The night hours are the ones chosen by Putin for the most aggressive offensives

The family has decided to stay in the Ukraine for now. “My father-in-law has had to get ready and my wife doesn’t want to go and leave him here, neither him nor Maria, her little sister”. Of course, weeks ago they contacted the Spanish embassy in Ukraine, “when we began to see that things were getting complicated.” At that moment, Beni took his passport and saw that it had expired, “my wife almost killed me.” That’s why he decided to talk to the embassy. “They told us through the passport there was no problem, that we should send all our documentation and that if there was any important alert they would contact us, and until today,” he says. “But not only us, the embassy has abandoned many Spaniards,” he insists. Who has contacted Beni Brito is the government of the Principality. On Monday they received a call from the Presidency and another from the Asturian Agency for Development Cooperation to inquire about the situation in which the family was.

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The Langrean is a Spanish citizen and that is why he has not had to enlist in the Ukrainian army as has happened to his friends, “some of whom are in the militia and others in the army.” Brito says that he does not like weapons, that he is a peaceful man, “but you have to be careful and each one fight for his own, and mine is my family.” Although he insists that in “physical fear” he has “absolutely nothing”, he also admits to being “worried” about his daughter and his wife. Beni and Anna met in Asia, they lived for a few years in Thailand“but as every three months we had to leave the country and re-enter and we had just had the girl, we decided to come to Ukraine”.

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He is a professional poker player, “although right now he is not in the mood to spend hours sitting in front of the computer”, so these days, since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, “all we do is chat with neighbors and with online friends”.

“I never thought I’d see myself in a war, I’ve lived through attacks in India and earthquakes in Bangladesh, and now here we are, giving it our all, like Atleti (his soul team)”, Brito jokes. “How am I going to return to La Felguera if I say I’m afraid of the Russians,” he concludes without losing his humor.


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