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Happiness in the town of Shchastye at the zero level. Living in ATO zone. Part 1

Happiness in the town of Shchastye at the zero level. Living in ATO zone. Part 1

Russia has arranged a training area near the town of Shchastye and tests here both weapons and guerrilla war methods

We somehow call the line of demarcation as "peredok" (a front line). Presumably, this term was derived from the word "peredovaya" which has saved from the times of the Second World War. But our guide Valentin Tkalich calls it "nulyovka": "You see, there is the concept of the" plus "and" minus " depending on which side of the line you move. So, there is also "zero", or "null". The town of Shchastye located right up close to the Donets river may be rightly considered as "zero" level because the occupied territory is just across the river.

ROAD

In Luhansk Valentin Tkalich was the most famous "nationalist". In the 90 years he headed the Regional division of All-Ukrainian political movement Rukh, and Ukrainian People's Party after split in Rukh. In electoral terms, Donbas did not pay dividends to pro-Ukrainian parties, and "leaders" in Kiev did not expend resources on the local like-minded people. However, Valentin managed both to maintain an office in the city center, and to arrange teeming "blue-yellow" pro-Ukrainian actions.

Obviously, therefore being at first an ordinary fighter of battalion "Aydar", he was invited soon to the battalion "Luhansk-1" to the position of political officer. For today, after a series of administrative (and regional) "movements" Tkalich has returned to the front ranks of the battalion but now his position is something like a press officer - in the days when he was not on duty at the checkpoint.

"Luhansk-1" is the only one battalion police-wide which fights in the above-mentioned "nulyovka". Naturally, the first thing I asked the press officer when met him in this new capacity is to organize a trip there. A few days later I received an order to come to the location of the battalion headquarters to get a helmet and a body armor.

The headquarters is located in the town of Severodonetsk, but its commander has chosen the town of Shchastye: hence it is more convenient to manage subordinates scattered from the Luhanskaya Village in the east, then along the Seversky Donets river up to the settlement Zolotoye.

It turned out not so simple to get to the town of Shchastye. Battalion suffers a shortage of vehicles. I had to catch a ride. Another problem is the roads that, apparently, no one is going to repair. The press officer knew the password that allowed us to slip checkpoints with minimal delay. I can not say how complicated the journey would be should I take a chance to get alone.

IN THE OPEN AIR

The town of Shchastye is an industry town which maintains Luhansk thermal power plant. In 2014, the town got almost more than any of the settlements caught in the firing line, but today you can not easily notice old damages to the naked eye. Unless one of the supermarkets still gapes a huge break on the facade. Well, anyone could be hardly surprised by a similar picture in the heartland ...

The town now is the object of increased attention of mass media thanks both to its name, and close proximity to the front line; the power plant maintains a high informational tension. So it was quite impossible to pass the local attractions.

Stella "Shchastya" (the name of the settlement means "Happiness") at the entrance from Luhansk where somebody has added that it "starts from here";  and very high smoking exhaust stacks of the thermal power plant... The bill board on the opposite road which wishes happiness on the Ukrainian, and in Russian ... In general, an untranslatable play on words. As we found out, this landmark was rustled up by local supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili to his recent visit. And someone has installed the sculpture of a mother marked by sorrow just by the side of the road. A modest monument which could not be seen at a glance.

But with the help of battalion commander Sergei Gubanov I managed to see the work of art which has remained likely unseen by the media. But I will tell about this a little later.

Mickhail Bublik, Severodonetsk

Please follow the link to read the 2nd part of the story

New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of three articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout.  You can subscribe here.

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