Новости Донбасса

The price paid. Principal of restored Slovyansk school about the war, children and teaching. Part 3

The price paid. Principal of restored Slovyansk school about the war, children and teaching. Part 3

Please follow the link to read the 1nd and 2nd part of the story


– Did many Semenivka residents join the militants?

– I didn’t see any of the locals among militants. Some of them were from Horlivka, some from other localities. There were Chechens, Russian citizens — I could hear Russian accent. Some locals were only feeding them.

Then, when a lot of Semenivka resdients left, those militants started looting their houses and basements looking for food.

As far as I could understand, their chief occupied my office: I discovered documents which  contained records about distributing weapons. Those documents contained passport and even senior citizens' Ids data. They also contained weapons numbers and insignia, everything was arranged in a serious way though it was written on scrap paper. Insignia of a Kalashnikov rifle, for example, informed about the plant which had produced it. There were Russian weapons.

– Why then, some Slovyansk residents, deny the facts of Russian military presence? Why don't they think about the sources Girkin took his ammunition from? When I ask them they say: “Some servicemen of a Ukrainian brigade surrendered to him with their three APCs.”

– People say this becuase they are zombified by Russian propaganda to such a degree that they do not see obvious things.

I stayed in Slovyansk during the period of occupation, I live on the outskirts, in the area called “Warsaw”.

Nona (self-propelled mortar system — editor) would come into my street, stop practically in my vegetable patch and shell in the direction of Artem district (Slovyansk). Then it would go to Artem district, stand there and shell in “Warsaw” direction, exactly into the place where it had been located short time before. This is how they were imitating Ukrainian Army returning fire.

So, people started saying: “This was Ukrainian Army shelling from Karachun Mount!” (a mount in Slovyansk vicinity where there were positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.), though Karachum is in absolutely different direction...

When shells hit houses from the opposite from Karachun direction. I used to asked people: “Tell me, how did they hit this house from Karachun if the shell had come from the opposite direction?!” - “No, it had come from Karachun.”

They are zombies, just zombies. People refuse to switch thier brains on.

I walked around my school after liberation and saw cans with meat which had been made in Russia, pasta which had been made in Russia, all the things they had there had been made in Russia, but people still claim Russia was not here. How come?

– First they were shouting “Russians have come, hurray!”, now they are saying that there weren't any Russians. I talk to different people and I can see that there is so much mess in their heads... What can be done to help them see things clearly?

– First of all, we need maximum truth on the official level.

Many people of the Donbas believe neither Russia nor our Government as they have been tricked so many times. Our authorities often lie as well, not only Russian ones do... For example, Slovyansk liberation. The town was surrounded by the Ukrainian Arned Forces, there was only one road which Girkin's militants could use to escape, otherwise they would have been killed right where they were.
Ok, Girkin and his convoy managed to leave the town... There is not a single village between Kostyantynivka (a town in the Donetsk region, about 100 km away from Donetsk) and Donetsk for about fifty kilometres! Why couldn't they just use a couple of fighter planes, five or six howitzers which can shell at a distance of fifteen-twenty kilometres and destroy this convoy? Why???

– This is exactly what all Slovyansk residents we have talked to tell us.

– Because it was possible to localize the militants there and to finish everything quickly!
What do people do with terrorists? They eliminate them.

I'm not bloodthirsty, but the global exparience teaches us that there are only two ways of communication with terrorists: they either surrender, or are killed. If you are not going to do either of these things, do not call them terrorists.

What kind of Anti-Terrorist Operation is Poroshenko talking about? Before he became president he had said that the ATO should not take weeks, it should take a couple of days: “Two or three days maximum.”  Those were his words!

...After Slovyansk had been liberated, I was invited to some TV channels in Kyiv and I talked to locals there. They had no idea what the war was, what was happening in Slovyansk in spring and summer 2014, just as we had no idea about what Maidan wa likes. However, we knew at least something about Maidan — it was shown on TV, we could see, for example, how the Heavenly Hundred was killed. I was watching it on TV and feeling all the horror of what was happening in Kyiv.

Kyiv residents do not fully understand what this war is as there are a lot of lies about it.

– A lot of people think that Slovyansk locals are to blame themselves as they were shouting: “Putin, come here!” and thus invited the war to their homes.

– This is true. Besides, the Communist Party was not idle either.

Slovyansk Communists, there was even one school teacher of history among them, wrote a letter to Putin and wanted a train conductor to take it to Putin. He was astonished: “What are you giving me? How am I supposed to pass it?” - “You should pass it to the Kremlin, to Putin! Tell him to come and save us!”

Slovyansk residents did that, not someone else. They invited the war themselves and it was done by many people, not just one person...

Pro-Russian propaganda had been active in the Donbas for many years, but if to speak about the conflict in the region, there is our mutual fault as well.

During all the years of independence Ukraine has not managed to elabotate the idea which would unite the population of all the regions.

- Tell us about your school.

- Currently we have 87 pupils fron Semenivka and other settlements and one IDP child.

This school is a real wonder for children. They started coming back to Semenivka in August 2014. They were able to see how the school was being restored, they could see me there from morning till evening.

One girl used to come several times a day: “May I have a look at what has been done?” In the morning they would be at the building site with a friend of hers, then they would reappear near the  school  several times a day...

My kids are wonderful, they are the best. However, when they returned to the village, it was so hard to look at them. They were scared, afraid of any sound and my most important task was to help them return to normal life.

I addressed the ATO Headquarters at the beginning of August and told them: “I need psychologists for children.” They reacted immediately, specialists arrived the next day and worked here. That helped but children still suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, they were scared by any loud sound in school.

A team of psychologists from Slovyansk Pedagogical University started working with them, they came to classrooms during several months. We talked to children calmly (actually, we never shout at kids here) and in the second term I realized that children were getting a bit naughty. I was thinking: “That's not good, it's time to punish them!..”, but deep in my soul I was happy — the kids were recovering!
I emphasize this all the time — our school is our big family. I tell my pupils that I'm their father and there is corporal punishment for the naughtiest ones (laughing), I say this in their parents presence, but it never happens, of course. We can always find words to solve a problem.

I never shout at kids, I come to the offenders, I hug them if they need this or I wag my finger at them — it depends. We have no fights and there have not been any cases of smoking in the last four years.

– By the way, how do you fight with drug addiction, one of the biggest problems of modern youth?

– We talk to children, try to explain them everything, we invite secialists. We are trying to do our best to protect them from any evil, but they have Internet access and can find a lot of malicious things there.

Yelena Cherednychenko for UT. Life.

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