Nadiya Zaslavska lost everything she had due to the “Russian world”.
The house that Putin destroyed. Part 1
A friend of mine used to live nearby, she also had a good house it was destroyed by shelling at the very beginning of the conflict. She was the only friend of mine who also thought that the events happening around were just a nightmare. She was trying to save something from her burning house and a piece of shell went straight through her body. She perished. Her car remained outside, not far from my house, as a memory about her.
Putylivsky Bridge was in the vicinity of my house as well. There was a checkpoint near it. When they started shooting, they hit the territory near our houses because of that checkpoint. Our mayor announced that all the people who lived there had been warned and the street had been evacuated, but we did not even know about being relocated to safer places, no one had ever heard about that. Our neighbours left and my mum and I stayed alone as we had pets: two dogs, two cats, and our neighbours had asked to feed their dogs as well. We lived like that for four months.
I was feeding my neighbour’ dogs and I had to go through Putylivsky checkpoint to central districts to get some cereals, it was possible to find some food only in the centre of the city at that time, we could not find anything in our district any more. We were blocked and the streets were closed by huge metal constructions so vehicles could not get to us. Then, a car was blown up under Putylivsky Bridge, there were Chechens in that area, they put dead bodies near garages.
One day I made two huge pans of some porridge and went to neighbouring houses to feed the dogs which remained there. As I was walking along the street, a SUV with open windows appeared. There were people who looked Oriental inside, probably, they were Chechens. They stuck a Kalashnikov rifle outside. I was all alone in that street where no one lived any more and when they reached me, the car slowed down and one of them started targeting it at my face. I dropped the porridge and nearly fell down near a fence. They burst out laughing and drove away. That was a kind of entertainment they invented for themselves in occupied cities. When I was walking though the checkpoint, I could hear a breechblock clicking behind my back all the time. They were curious to see the reaction of ordinary people. I could see the faces of people standing at checkpoints. Those were faces of mad people, drug addicts and alcoholics.
Shooting used to cease for an hour, from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. I took one shepherd dog and my mum and we ran away. We were lucky to get to the railway station and get on the last train which was going to Dnipropetrovsk, they let us go without tickets and with that dog. We arrived in some hamlet and we stayed there. Several days later my neighbours called me and said that my house had been fired at. I left my mum at that hamlet and rushed to Donetsk not understanding clearly what I was doing. I just could not imagine what it meant that my house had been fired at. I arrived there by the evening and I got under a shelling again. I was hiding under concrete fences when shells were landing around. It was a miracle that I managed to get to my house and I saw eight pieces of military machinery standing around it. There were tanks, APCs, some big covered vehicle which looked like a van. There were big wooden boxes near my fence, I do not know what was inside, but I think, those were “Grad” shells. I got into my house through the rear door and started looking around. I wanted to see what had been fired at there. The windows were not broken by blast waves, they were just shot through as if someone had been walking around with a Kalashnikov rifle firing at them. There was a basement where we had kept food before in our courtyard and I hid there.
I was sitting there alone and animals started gathering around me. Somehow they felt that I was there, so dogs and cats came. Can you imagine? Cats and dogs did not bite each other, they were just sitting around me.
In the twilight, I could see tanks with three-coloured flags, there was also a red-blue-black “DPR flag” on one of the cars. Those people who were in my courtyard, were speaking with Moscow accent. There was a nine-storey house nearby and their blindage was behind it and they shot from that blindage. They were arguing that evening, either something did not hit the target or there was another reason. I could hear all those talks. I am telling you this now and I cannot even describe you how fearful it was. When they say that there were no Russian servicemen in Ukraine, they are lying. I can swear on the Bible that those were Russian militaries in my courtyard. I heard and saw them myself.
I was sitting there all night writing a letter to my daughter. When I realized that shelling was going to be endless, I ran away to the railway station again. I got to the station by four o’clock in the morning and I was sitting there waiting for a bus or some other kind of transport to take me out of that zone.
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