I got a phone call in Popasna (the Luhansk region) on Thursday:
- She military you showed in your reportage yesterday has perished.
You want to scream at such moments.
"Hot" Zaitseve. Interview taken on the day before death on red front line. Part 1
"Hot" Zaitseve. Interview taken on the day before death on red front line. Part 2
"Hot" Zaitseve. Interview taken on the day before death on red front line. Part 3
“What about salaries? Do you have any problems?”
“There was only one occasion when we did not get it on time, but it was usual bureaucracy, somebody was late to sent documents. After the second month we got everything.”
“What about the money you should get for taking part in battles?”
“Yes, here we have problems. We used to get that money but then this economy started...
The thing is that the headquarters have their own system which does not correspond to real events. Their notes do not reflect the situation. If you were wounded on that day, you will get this money for the battle. If not — then, you did not take part in hostilities.
Let us decide then, what we call “a battle”. If you are sitting in a trench and they fire at you — it is a battle?”
“How many servicemen would like to sign a contract with the Army?”
“Just a few and this is where the problem lies: our “one year of military service” finished two months ago and we are still kept here.
If Poltorak or Muzhenko told us: “Guys, there is a problem, you should stay here a couple of months more and you will be rewarded for this” — there would not be any problem.
About thirty people wanted to sign a contract, but then they changed their opinions.
We have been here for thirteen months, give us just a little break!”
“Zaitseve is a big village.”
“It’s a very specific one, Those houses, for example, have no gas, all pipelines have been damaged.
Zhebrivsky reported that he had repaired water but there is no water here. I understand it this way: if there is water then it must be running from a tap when you open it. But if it is somewhere two kilometres away and it never gets here, then there is no water.
But in financial reports they state that they used all the money for water supply which is fully restored.
The situation was the same with the logistics centre."
“What does it mean?”
“Building all that bullshit. Who needed it? For people not to stand at Artemivsk checkpoint for hours and to buy all they need at this centre. But people do not cross the demarcation line to buy a kilo of meat. They do it to take out some cash or to buy medicine, to do some other things.
The distance from here to the centre of Artemivsk is exactly two kilometres. There is an ATM, a chemist’s, a hospital, a lot of shops and even a cafe there. Still, they came up with this wonderful decision: “People need a logistics centre.”
Today there were a lot of people there, but they were sellers only, no one came there to buy anything. But a lot of money, according to documents, was invested in it.
Retirees still get “Russian aid” and to obtain it once a month they go to the part of the village which is controlled by separatists. To prove that, “Godzilla” brings one of local seniors. First, she is reluctant to communicate with journalists, and the serviceman decided to support her a bit:
“People cannot go to Artemivsk to get their pensions. There are a lot of reasons: no bus, no permit, no documents. This woman cannot get her pension on the Ukrainian side.”
After this, the woman tells us that it takes six hours to get to Artemivsk and it takes the same time to get back. Her pension is 1500 hryvnyas and this money is never enough. Of course, she does not refuse from “Russian aid”.
The woman invites us to her courtyard to show craters which mines that hit it left. She says that every night she sleeps on the floor under a concrete wall as it is safer. She “does not know” who shells her house and where from.
“How do retirees get to the other side?”, asked I when we left woman’s courtyard.
“There is one battalion commander not far from here, near Mayorsk. There is a pass near where he lives. We have told him so many times to close that pass as it would end badly.
He says: there is no order. He is an ex-police officer who was sacked from the police and then from the military enlistment office.
Things like that never happened in Mayorsk. We are soldiers, we are on the front line so we should do everything for safety. And if locals start weeping: “We have to go there, to the other side” - sorry, guys, this is war and it was not me who went to pro-Russian rallies or to the separatist “referendum”.
“Still, I do not understand, why do you need an order to close that pass?”
“This is what I am talking about: there must be a wish, some political will. Here, our battalion commander trusts us and we trust him”. If I decide that something must be done, he comes and I explain him what the matter is. He says: “Ok, I understand”, but in other places the situation can differ greatly.
The worst thing is that soldiers who subordinate that battalion commander are good guys, but he is a schmo.
Anyway, only one week is left and then I will go home..."
At this moment we approached our cars. I asked somewhat casually:
“Are you going with us?”, as i thought “Godzilla” would go with us back to the place where we had met.
“No, I am staying here”, he said sadly.
A mine explodes again somewhere not very far.
“Be quick”, ushered us “Godzilla”.
We hastily shook his hand and left.
He stayed there.
Borys Davydenko for UT
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