The keepers of Ukraine’s keys … and secrets

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For the last few months he has been criss-crossing the devastated Kyiv suburbs of Bucha and Irpin looking after homes and house plants abandoned when their owners fled for their lives.

“After the liberation, many of my acquaintances asked me to come and see if their houses were still intact, if they had windows or doors,” he told AFP.

Yevgen would go around and turn on a light to ward off looters, clear up the broken glass, send items on to their owners, or do a bit of gardening.

Soon, as word got around, the keys began accumulating. They would be “sent by mail, or I would take them from a neighbour, or from under the doormat”.

Some keys came with coffee or chocolates, as tokens of gratitude, as Yevgen had been doing it all from the goodness of his heart.

Returning friends would often find a little present from him, a bouquet of flowers or fruit to make them feel “happy”.

“If it was me, they would have helped me too,” he insisted. “These are my friends, all the keys I have are from the people I know.”

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