One of 112 Channel journalists got a letter from an old friend of his who lives in occupied Donetsk. One day he had phoned her to ask if she was fine and she told him that it was difficult to tell about everything via telephone. “Why don’t you write about it?”, asked he. So she did... We do not disclose the author’s name, of course as it can be dangerous.
Heart-cry from Donetsk: "We exist and we are not a mirage and we are waiting for you..." Part 1
This is a full version of this heart-cry from Donetsk:
We are constantly asked: “Why are you still there? Why don’t you move to a safer place?” We have plenty of official answers: elderly parents, work, home, property...
No one understands us and they are right. I cannot tell them during a telephone conversation: someone has to meet those who come out of “basements" (militants usually keep and torture arrested people in basements). Here I can do at least something to help with searching for a person — I have some contacts, I can telephone someone or just support them morally sometimes as relatives of detained people do not know what to do and who to address when they get to know about the arrest. I had to literally “meet” three people when they were leaving the “basements”, it was about a year and a half ago and militants were especially cruel with their captives at that time. If they treated civilians in such a way, what can be said about militaries then...
Do you know how they looked when they were leaving those “basements”? They had lice and sores, men had been beaten severely. They had no documents, no money, no mobile telephones... Where could they go? Who else could help them? That is why their family or friends informed me about the date of the “release”. They were not able to come (as they could end up in the same “basement”). So, you go and meet this woman after the basement. She does not know you and you do not know her but are already close people. You leave the place. Go as far as possible and you hand her a used mobile with your number and numbers of her relatives who addressed you asking to help her. She telephones and consoles them and they console her. You go to her home and it is good if there is a person who has the second set of keys. Everything is turned upside down as the flat had been searched. While she is trying to come to herself, you run to the chemist’s and to the grocery to buy the necessary medicines and food. It takes months to restore documents, at least passports, in separatists’ “institutions” as, for example, women fear such buildings after what they have gone through and it is difficult for them even to fill in an application form there. Sone of them got their passports back, some did not. Besides, you are trying to understand how to send this person to Ukraine. Everyone has something to do. I know that a friend of mine takes pictures of Donetsk for one news agency. Ukrainian journalists are not allowed to work here so amateurs are a great help.
Thus, we stay here. For me “here” means occupied territory. For my colleagues at work “here” means “in the young republic”. For my ex-colleagues, actually. I could not bear that any more so I quit. I could not stand listening to their panegyrics “better life is coming” and their words “Ukraine is dying” and “republic is getting on its feet”. One day my director invited me and said: “Do not wait till they report to the “police” about you, leave now. I will help you financially”. He kept his promise but later someone reported to the “police” about him. He managed to leave the occupied territory with his family.
So, I stayed there with my mum. I live on my grief, she lives on her fears. First, she was afraid of shellings. Then, she was afraid of going down to a dark and wet basement in our house which we used as a bomb shelter as she had seen a rat there long before. Gradually, she got used to the smell of mildew and it did not make her sick any more. She stopped paying attention to something grey hiding in the dark. It’s a cat, mum. Yes, honey, it’s a cat. Then, she was afraid to miss the day when Akhmetov’s humanitarian mission was distributing aid and if it was suspended for a day or two, my mum got panic feats.
The situation with this humanitarian aid is weird. First, we had a calendar for 2014 on the wall in our kitchen. My mum circled the date when the aid had to be given out with a highlighter and every time she would say: oh, I will have to live for one month more. Then she hung a calendar for 2015 next to the 2014 one. She would not let me take the first one off the wall. Now, we have three of them hanging in a row with dates circled by a highlighter. However, she stopped saying that she will have to live for one month more. She has a new “motivator” now: I will die when you are sixty and I will know that now you have food (mostly, people who are over sixty are provided with humanitarian aid here). So, everyone has their own anchors to stick to life.
Heart-cry from Donetsk: "We exist and we are not a mirage and we are waiting for you..." Part 3
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