WHEN GIRKIN APPEARED, A LOT OF PEOPLE FELT EUPHORIA: “HOORRAY, THE RUSSIAN HAVE COME!”, THEY WERE SO HAPPY THAT THEY STARTED DRINKING HEAVILY OR GETTING HIGH ON DRUGS
“Four shells hit the roof of the school, there were only four windows left out of ninety-four. Our roof if one thousand square metres and there was not a single metre left untouched, they were either cut with pieces of shells or destroyed by shells...” - tells us Serhiy Borysenko.
Militants seized the school on April 20. They had phoned me on the eve and told that the school had been occupied abd the classes had to be cancelled. I came and tried to persuade them not to do that as the academic year was still in progress.
They answered: “Leave us alone, we like it here: there is electric power, running water and heating. The locaton is comfortable as well: the motorway and crossroads are nearby.”
They also added: “If you continue like this, you'll be in the basement. Go away and don't come back.” (“The basement” - the usual place for pro-Russians' torture chambers is in the basements.- Translator.)
But I kept coming every other day. There were a lot of armed people here and on the school grounds I was always accompanied by one or two guys with machine guns who used to tell me: “Don't go here, don't go there, you have nothing to do here, why did you come?..”
After the school was occupied, we resorted to distance learning for our pupils. There were problems with the Internet connection so we phoned them or, if it was impossible to phone, we visited them. This is how we finished the academic year.
Militants got support from the Crimea on May 5 and there was a very serious battle on the motorway nearby. Severe shellings followed and a lot of people were leaving the settlement: some of them did not go far, some went to the Kharkiv region, people went wherever they could go.
By the end of May there were only three kids and fourteen adults left in Semenivka.
I was not able to get into the settlement during the period of June 12-July 5. The shellings were so intense that militants who were “on duty” at checkpoints did not let us go through. I live in Slovyansk so it was especially difficult for me to get though to Semenivka.
On July 5, Girkin left Slovyansk and those militants who had been in Semenivka left the place and joined his convoy.
However, Ukrainian servicemen did not let me approach the school on July 6 — all the location has been mined.
I came here on July 7 by sideways and I saw destruction... The school library had been destroyed completely, there was no furniture, no kitchen equipment - everything had either been broken or thrown away. Trees around the school had been cut down to built blindages, to make beams or to use as firewood...
There was a lot of looting. We had six computers in our school cumputer lab and every time I visited school during the occupation period, I checked them. However, militants did not touch them. Residents of the neighbouring village did, as soon as they left.All the computers were stolen. I went there and tried to return them myself, but in vain.
Then I went to a checkpoint (25th division was on duty there) and asked them for help. They answered that it was beyond their authority and called the police. They managed to return all the computers though half of them had already been taken apart.
– They say Girkin introduced prohibition law and executed looters?
– Yes, when Girkin appeared and Ponomaryov was proclaimed “people's mayor”, a lot of people became ecstatic first. They were running around and shouting: “Hurray, the Russians have come!They are finally here!” To celebrate this, they were drunking heavily and getting high on drugs.
Several days later they were calmed down a bit. Drunk ones were taken away, selling alcohol after 10 p.m. was prohibited. It was good, of course.
But... When I came to my school, which had been seized by militnts, I saw used syringes thrown around everywhere. I could see some “soldiers” on duty at checkpoints with glazed eyes, their fingers on the trigger, swaying to and fro...
– Not only Chechen “soldiers” had glazed eyes, right?
– Not, not only. Besides, I didn't see Chechens at checkpoints, I saw them in my school.
Yelena Cherednychenko for UT. Life.
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