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The war in Ukraine will be remembered as the first that we have been able to follow practically live on social media. On Instagram, for example, fundraising campaigns have been launched to send money to organizations working in the field, or material has been collected for volunteers to transport to the Polish border. On Twitter some of the rawest images of the war have been seen and have gone viral, like that of the pregnant young woman fleeing a hospital in Mariúpol, but also photoshopped fakes aiming to spread misinformation, and political leaders have used the platform to communicate news, meetings, and at times, agreements. But it has been on TikTok that many young people have followed the day-to-day of the war, not so much in terms of mapping the territories Russia has conquered or watching Zelensky's addresses, but in the more personal experiences that take place behind the conflict.

One such case is that of a young woman, @Valerisssh, who has been posting videos since the beginning of the war: first in makeshift bunkers, then the journey to the Polish border and finally her new life as a refugee in Italy. A few days ago, however, she posted a video that shocked all those following her progress, in which she announced that her brother, who had not been able to leave Ukraine, had died and she placed the blame directly on the Russian president: "Putin is evil."


I love u, bro🖤 Putin is an evil

♬ eventually slowed - xxtristanxo

"Vladimir Putin killed my 18-year-old brother and people worry about closure of McDonald's. I can't stop crying, I don't wanna believe it," the young woman wrote in the video, accompanied by photos of the two siblings, before the conflict began. The posts has accumulated more than 20 million views and many have offered their condolences to Valeria Shashenok. For many young people around the world, her profile has been a way of understanding the effects of war and they wanted to let her know how they had connected to her.

Videos of her day-to-day

Before that tragic moment, the young woman had been narrating the situation with an ironic sense of humour, although she also used the medium to denounce Putin's aggression against the Ukrainian people and their cities. Her most-watched video, for example, was uploaded in early March from a shelter in Chernivtsi, a two hour journey from Kyiv. Backed by a jaunty Italian tune, very popular on TikTok, she explained her day-to-day life with her family. Her activities include using a heat gun as a hair dryer, going out to the street and checking on the devastation that the Russia military had inflicted on her city, going to her old home to pick up some possessions... With 45.7 million views and 6 million "likes", this video made her into social media star and since then this photographer has been accumulating even more followers.

@valerisssh Living my best life 🥰🥰🥰 Thanks Russia! #ukraine #stopwar #russiastop ♬ Che La Luna - Louis Prima

♬ eventually slowed - xxtristanxo

The effects of the war 

Before the war, her uploaded content was that of any young woman: videos with her friends, about her life and work, trips around Europe... Then she wrote in Ukrainian, and now she also writes in English. The day after the invasion, on February 25th, she posted a compilation of images of her country, to show that her reality was no different from that of any young woman her age. 


Shit happens

♬ Bound 2 Slowed n Reverb by Kanye - Jxy.Creations

With the onset of the conflict, Valerisssh began denouncing the Russian attacks: "Today Putin has destroyed homes in the city where I grew up and where my friends still live, while I am in an anti-aircraft shelter. Russia, stop! " In another video explaining her day-to-day life, she notes that among the effects of the war are "losing weight because Russia makes me worried" and how she walks around the city to check on the damage from Russian attacks.

From the shelters in Ukraine to refuge in Italy 

After weeks in Ukraine, where she explained everything from shopping expeditions to making coffee without electricity, following TikTok trends by using the songs of the moment as backing for her videos, she finally narrated the adventure of her flight from Ukraine. Valeria became one of the more than 4 million refugees who have had to flee Ukraine so far. She first travelled from her hometown to Kyiv, then ten hours by train to Poland where many volunteers were waiting for her, to continue her journey to Warsaw: "The worst trip of my life. Thank you, Putin!" she said, never short of irony. From Poland she also detailed her daily life, as she became a refugee. She spoke to different media there, and also got her camera out and, recovering her profession, devoted herself to photographing her fellow refugees.

From Poland she went to Italy, and has now settled. But she has continued to make daily videos, always with her sense of humour, and expressing her longing to be reunited with her relatives who remained in Ukraine, including her brother, who has now tragically died.


Italy loves Ukraine🇮🇹🇺🇦❤️

♬ Love In Portofino - Dalida & Raymond Lefèvre Et Son Grand Orchestre

Valeria Shashenok is just one case among the many Ukrainians who have taken their mobile phones and started recording the reality since February 24th, when the Russian army invaded their country and have broadcast, also live, their journeys to escape the destruction. In addition, many of them have, despite the war, continued to inject the humour which is a signature of this social media, and have reached people around the world. Some media have even decided to call this conflict the "TikTok War".