It costs from 150 to 500 hryvnyas to get from the new administrative centre of the Luhansk region to its former “capital”. However, the value for money of this trip cannot be explained logically.
3. Meat will get spoilt, but people will endure the heat and waiting.
So, a serviceman with a tricolour emblem is looking at our passports. Then, there is an ex-petrol station in Horlivka which is now used as a self-proclaimed “DPR” “customs checkpoint”. Since last year, they have had a computer system for checking passports. It means, they have their own lists of pro-Ukrainian people. You had better not be on that list. We are waiting again. Our retirees are worried that the meat they have bought for home may get spoilt. They share different secrets: you should not only freeze this meat, but also fold it in a newspaper then it will not get spoilt even after fifteen hours of waiting. I have tried that recipe myself. Surprisingly, it works! Finally, we go through a couple of internal checkpoints (here our driver just gives the militants some cigarettes) and the customs between the “DPR” and “LPR”. A gloomy man with a gun looks into the bus. He sees a mobile in my neighbour’s hands and starts shouting that he will confiscate it. The woman tries to explain that she was just going to telephone her husband to tell him to meet her. The driver shows dozens of some papers and licenses. Everyone is on the verge as it is the fourteenth hour of our journey already. Finally, our bus is let through and we hurry along the motorway. The asphalt on the road is in terrible condition. Half an hour more, several minutes more — and we see the star on one of Luhansk mines and the name of our native city (which is written in Russian now). We get off the bus. It is about eight p.m. and there is hardly any public transport in Luhansk at this time and if you need to get to the outskirts, you have to take a taxi. Drivers accept both, hryvnyas and Russian rubles (the official “currency” of the “Luhansk people’s republic” is Russian ruble), but the exchange rate is horrible.
4. “Stanytsya Luhanska” bridge.
I do not know how many days a rest after this trip will take. Maybe, it depends on the aim you have. Personally I went back in three days and that time I went though Stanytsya Luanska pedestrian checkpoint.
There are some tips you should remember while crossing it. The Ukrainian checkpoint starts work at 6 a.m. It is a mystery why dozens of people are already waiting there when you arrive. Mostly, these are vendors. They buy fruit and vegetables in Stanytsya Luhanska and then sell them in Luhansk. The money they get for this is their way to survive. It is more expensive to get to the checkpoint by taxi, but they say that taxi drivers can “buy” you a place in the queue closer to the checkpoint. This is important. Here, on the “LPR” side there is a computer system for checking people who cross it. About a hundred or a hundred and a half people who are the first in the queue quickly get through the passport control and hurry across the bridge to join the “main” queue at the Ukrainian checkpoint. The distance is about two kilometres. It is difficult to walk if you have heavy bags, but there are “riksas” who will help you for about a dollar. The most difficult thing is to wait in the bright summer sun. People count time and distance by lightposts. It takes not less than an hour to move from one to the next one. There are benches and there are queues to all of them. There are toilets and there are queues to all of them. “Rescuers” are standing near the concrete blocks at the very checkpoint. They can give you some water or take your blood pressure. I suspect, a lot of people have high blood pressure after waiting in the sun for hours. Queuing takes not less than four hours. People in the queue are on constant lookout for those who try to get through the checkpoint quicker.
Besides, there is a serviceman walking by who calls people in the queue “separatists”, asks them why they do not stay in their “LPR”, and mocks at all those who “called the war”. Disabled people, families with children and those who have train tickets are allowed to pass without a queue. It takes from two to four hours to get from Stanytsya Luhanska to Rubizhne or Lysychansk where there are railway stations. There are buses waiting at the checkpoints (about 7 dollars for a ticket) and there are taxis (about ten dollars) as well. You will have to go through nine internal checkpoints on your way to Siverodonetsk, this is why the road is so long.
This is the way home. Not everyone will have enough strength to get to the destination point.
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