Hundreds of children have suffered since the beginning of Russian aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
On June 1, International Children’s Day, Andriy Parubiy, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada, voiced the data about 68 perished children and 186 wounded ones during the two years of war. At the same time, other sources claim that the number is even more tragic: Andriy Pavlenko, children’s ombudsman of the times of Yanukovych, states that 199 children have died and 500 children have been wounded by bullets or pieces of shells. About 10 thoгsand little Ukrainian citizens live in the “grey zone” and risk their health and lives every day.
This interview with Nataliya was recorded a year ago.
Perished children of Donbas. War without censorship. Part 1
"You were lucky..."
On July 2, 2014, there was a battle in Dzerzhynsk (2016 renamed into Toretsk – UP). This is a 30-minutes’ ride by bus. A militants’ grouping headed by Bezler was giving its positions in. Dzerzhynsk remained under Ukrainian control. There were no losses among civilians.
July 27, Horlivka. The town was just covered with “Grads”. Dozens of shells were exploding simultaneously hitting the very centre of it. They landed again and again.
None of the officers or generals has ever said that the town was shelled. According to official data, several dozens of people were killed near my children. I read about one woman who covered her baby with her own body. Her husband survived and she died.
I learnt all that later. At that time I refused to believe in what was happening. I was looking for my children, running to the square, calling their names.
As I was trying to find them, I ran into a bomb shelter.They did not let me out of it. I do not know how long I was there, one hour, maybe two. There was no light there. It was the first day of shelling and the shelter had not been prepared yet.
I was shouting: “My children, my children, where are my children? Kira, Khrystyna..”
They helped me on a bench and started asking who I was looking for. I told them that for a girl with a perambulator and a baby. They promised to find out.
A nurse came up to me and gave me an injection saying: “You are making everyone nervous here”. Later, someone approached me and said: “Everything is fine with your children, only the girl’s arm was scratched”. They tricked me. I got a little calmer but I still could not sleep.
They started letting people out of the bomb shelter and I ran to another one which was near the hospital, but my children were not there.
I went to the hospital and started asking if anyone had seen my children. I was told that they had been brought there. They told me the surname but it was not mine. I was shaking the nurse and shouting...
And someone says that my children have been brought to the morgue.
That was all...
Everyone was so beautiful that day. I had a long white dress, it was so gorgeous... All those green trees and grass around, people who were coming out of the shelter and smiling... I was running to the hospital and they were saying about me: “Runaway bride”... They were joking, you see?
And then endless telephone calls started. Unknown people called me and told me to come to the morgue. All the space was filled with those words. But I was looking for my children alive, I could not even think that...
It turned out later that blogger Oleh Zhelyabov had taken photographs of the torn bodies of my children and posted them on the Internet immediately.
I did not know at that time that my children had died, but everyone else knew, and Dasha who was in Kyiv knew as well.
Why did they show my children’s death? Why did not they ask me, their mother?!
Why did not they show the world the happiness we had?!
Why did not they post photographs where we were happy?
...A nurse showed me my girls in the morgue. “You are lucky”, she told me. You cannot even understand why I was lucky. I could not understand it either at that time.
When a “Grad” system is working, a person is just torn into pieces, but my girls had faces.
Their arms and legs were torn off, but they had faces.
And I was told that I was lucky...
"Mum, go away from there..."
We had managed to send Dasha to Kyiv two days before the tragedy. It was already impossible to call a taxi at that time so we had to stop a car on the motorway.
The railway station looked really scary though before that there had not been any fear. The building itself was closed. People were sitting on the grass, surrounded by their suitcases, bags, babies, as if they were in old films about the war. Some trains were to leave in the morning but due to the curfew people had to stay at the station overnight.
Before that, when Dasha used to go to Kyiv, she would sleep all night. That night she was calling me all the time, saying: “I am travelling by some train of terror, people keep talking about arms and legs that were torn off. Mum, leave, please, go away from there!"
All our things had already been packed. I was calling all the hotels, camps and resorts, but they refused to accept us as soon as they learnt about a ten-months-old baby. Someone gave me the number of Rinat Akhmetov’s Fund. But the girl who worked there told the same things: “Go at least somewhere, we will find you some accommodation and work closer to the town.”
On July 27, when all that happened, I had to make some more telephone calls. Khrystyna told me: “You’ll catch up with us as soon as you finish your calls.”
I was looking out of the window and telephoning everyone asking to take us out.
My children crossed the road and I finally arranged it: “Yes, we will take you to Svyatohirsk tomorrow.”
I phoned Khrystyna and told her the happy news. I heard her telling my granddaughter: “Kira, hooray, we are leaving with our granny tomorrow...”
Those were her last words.
The town exploded. Our favourite square was shelled with “Grads” and the world was destroyed.
I have been asking a thousand times: who was shelling? Who killed my children?
Both, Ukrainian police and “DPR police” are silent. No one wants to investigate into this case or recognize the fact that they had been shelling the town and killed my children and other civilians. No one gives any information.
Now there is OSCE there, but at that time no one was recording the number of deaths. And now there is an impression that no one has ever died there.
Horlivka was shelled all the time after that. They kept attacking it all the time... People were hiding. I was alone at the funeral of my family. Neither our relatives, nor friends were able to come. Even those who were in Horlivka at that time.
...There is a notion of “post-traumatic stress disorder”. Usually militaries who come back from the war suffer from it.
I am still at war. Everyone is trying to tell me that my children are dead and I do not want to believe it.
I am still waiting for them.
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