Nadiya Zaslavska lost everything she had due to the “Russian world”.
“What do you think, Nadiya, would the war have broken out if it had not been for Russia? Or without Russian intervention it would never have started?”
“It would never have started without Russia. We used to live in a wonderful city, it was so European. We could go on living without any problems, we could go through the crisis. This war would never have started if it had not been for Russia. I swear, I am a witness if Russian intervention. Those guys who were sitting in my courtyard that night were discussing their holidays in Sochi. They spoke with Moscow accent. Can you hear the difference between my accent when I speak Russian and the Russian language that Moscow residents speak? I could hear them as well as I can hear you. They were sharing their impressions about holidays in Sochi, someone had just returned. I could not see clearly what chevrons they had but they were wearing official military uniform with three-coloured flags. They were also speaking about our land, how good and soft it was and how nice it would be to live there. There was a whole troop in my yard, so many Russian servicemen! It was obvious that those men sitting in my garden were not locals who had joined “DPR”, those were professional servicemen. They had a very convenient location on my premises as our Airport was nearby and they could shell it easily. I swear that nothing would have started without Russia. I accuse only the Russian Federation of what happened. I am not a politician, I am an ordinary citizen of this country and I do not understand all those hidden plans, but I am sure that this aggression had been planned long before and Russia played a crucial part in it".
“What happened to the dogs you were feeding?”
“They shot dead all my dogs, my dogs died. I had one neighbour, one of those “DPR” losers, he stayed there and told me later that all the dogs had died. They were just firing randomly from Kalashnikov rifles. There were a lot of shot dogs in our street when I was there, that summer of 2014 was extremely hot and they were decaying but we could not bury them as there were constant shellings. They were firing from the Airport, from the checkpoint, “Grad” was working somewhere. There were a lot of stories that they were trying to make our boys leave the Airport with the help of some gas or redirecting sewage waters there. I learnt all those things from my enemies, Russian partiots blinded by propaganda. They were so happy: “Today, those bastards, those cyborgs who are sitting at the Airport will be choked by gas. You should close all the windows.” So, I closed all the windows and doors with wet cloth that night. It was so stupid — the Airport and that gas were so far from us, but we were so scared, we were sitting and thinking that probably that gas was going to be all over the district and we would choke. Nothing like that happened, of course”
“What about those Russian patriots, did their houses burn as well?”
“Yes, my neighbours’ houses burnt as well, but it was my house that was the epicentre. Unfortunately, the fire spread from my house to my neighbours’ ones”
“What do you think, will “DPR” be there for a long time? Or will people understand one day what they have done and be sorry for that?”
“I have a lot of friends, well, ex-friends actually, there, but I do not communicate with them now. They are hooked on Russian propaganda and they pass it over to their children. They do not understand the reasons of events happening. They believe that they were protecting their right for independent life and believe that Russia is almighty. A lot of ordinary people who supported “DPR” have perished. Those who remained there will never put up with Ukraine. All those who were against “DPR” have left, those who continue living on occupied territory are either bedridden or they believe that Russia will give them better future”.
“Will you ever come back there?”
“Never. I just do not know how to live as I live barely in the street now, I can hardly survive. My pension is very little, just 900 hryvnyas. I live with my mum who is 85 years old and I should stay with her till the end. My daughter helps me. I do not think about the future here, I just live here and now and I look after my mum.
I asked lawyers about the possibility to take terrorists to court for destroying my house, for the fact that I lost everything in my life. I got the answer that we do not have the war officially, we have Anti-Terrorist Operation and there is no law which would secure my rights in the case of the ATO. I have to wait till the law is adopted. I have been waiting modestly and I am still waiting. I have prepared all the necessary documents, I have photorgaphs, I have the application form, but I cannot file a lawsuit as I do not know what to write there. So, here we are with my mum, trying to survive.
I am afraid to go back there. I should go and testify in “DPR” institutions. Our houses were examined by a special commission the first days after they got burnt. There are document proving that and I should go and collect them. I can file this lawsuit at “DPR” court but there is no sense in doing this. The territory is still cordoned off and even those who have passports with registration proving that they live are sometimes denied access to their homes. The area is so isolated that it is even worse than Chornobyl. There are still skirmishes there. I do not know how much time it will take to restore everything. They say, the centre of the city lives peacefully and feels all right. The suburbs are destroyed by shellings, there are still combats there and the centre lives and hopes that a brave new world is coming”.
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.