Lana married young. She went far away to live with her lover, got pregnant, but the beatings started almost immediately. It was so bad the girl ran off with her newborn to mother. The three of them have been living together ever since on the Pobedonosnaya St. in Lugansk. Those who spent 2014 in Lugansk know that in August artillery shells came in every day. Lana described how she saw “a woman torn in half” while waiting in line for water distribution.
There was no water, no electricity, no phone service. One could survive without many things, but not without bread and water. People came out of their apartments to get them, right under the shells.
I remember very well how the locals and Zhenya described August of that year at the time, shortly after these events. People could hardly bring themselves to talk about it. And if they did, only with trembling voices and flowing tears. Zhenya: “At that time, the ‘liberators’ were entertaining themselves by shooting at people who stood in line for water and bread, and where there was still phone service. Hundreds of people would meet there to send news to their relatives they were still alive. But the spotters worked there too.”
I remember how Zhenya told us about going to the roof to catch a phone connection to send a text message he’s still alive. There were no communications, but it was clear the city was under fire.
There are posts which are difficult to write because it’s hard, because no matter how you look at it, it’s pure hopelessness. So immense that it leaves you with a sense of emptiness in which one can hear only the sound of fingers hitting the keyboard. Don’t worry, this is not one of those posts.
Please open it, instead of scrolling past it. Please read it. Because this is why we and our friends got involved in all this in the first place.
It’s a post about you, about hopelessness, and about a miracle.
Sasha looks like a hero from Gaidar’s tales. Or perhaps not Gaidar’s, but there is something about him that’s positive and attractive. The pressed lips, the modest but penetrating gaze.
A beautiful boy with a terrible fate.
Sasha lives in Lugansk with his grandmother Taisiya. His mother was wounded by a shell fragment in 2014. They managed to put her entrails back together at the hospital, but she died two years later. He hasn’t seen his father for many years but he has not formally abandoned him and is not about to. Therefore Taisiya cannot obtain any child care benefits. She herself was in a hospital not too long ago following a stroke, with two days in intensive care.
You have to see this!!!
You see the girl on the photo, leaning against a door jamb?
That very same Anya who stopped walking during the winter. Her legs could no longer support her so she was able to move only by holding on to stretched-out ropes and stools. “Stress, nerves”–doctors who did not understand what was happening just raised their arms and said many words. But behind all of it there is only one word–“war”.
I wrote about her back in April. Anya is a mother of three who has a loving husband. After an unexpected illness, the family’s entire income went to treat it. But the money was desperately short. And thanks to you, we were able to collect enough for the first round of treatment.
Not too long ago, someone put one of my posts on Yandex-Zen and the number of my blog’s views went straight up.
I haven’t seen that since 2014, and that’s very good. And I would like to tell new readers that, in spite of my numerous selfies and Crimea photos, our aid to the people of Donbass is ongoing. We continue to help nearly every day. And thanks to those who participate in it. This is a complex, multi-stage process, linked by many invisible threads.
I don’t know how often I should write about Donbass. I could write reports every day, or once a week. Now I write several times a week, so as not to overload you. And to be honest, it’s hard for me to write more often, I get lost in the thicket of phrases. What’s more, I have written about it so many times that it’s difficult for me to find a new way to tell it, and I feel like a bore.
But, overall, thank you for being with me.
This report-post is about people under our constant care. There have been so many posts about them that I don’t want to become a parrot repeating the same over and over again. Please read about them, there are tags at the bottom of the post pertaining to them. This is assistance to people who find it hard to survive in wartime conditions.
This is our Seryozha. Seryozha, Seryozha, Seryozha…Not a simple story to tell. He now lives in a retirement home in Lugansk. Without a leg, a home, a family, but with polyarthritis…
An old friend recently wrote me a letter in which he was upset that, judging by my postings, one would think everything’s going badly in LPR. Because there are positive examples too. I could answer my readers that no, not everything is going badly. There are families whose affairs are in principle going well. Moreover, I would say there are people, everywhere, of a kind capable of surviving in any situation. And not only survive but find work or ways to make money even where it’s impossible. It’s as if they are literally a tank, they can fight to the end. But there aren’t so many of them. Since I mainly write about those who need help, my reports don’t include many positive examples. Not because they don’t exist, but because we help those who can’t help themselves. People with problems or in dire straits. Illness, loss of house, wounds. It’s single elderly, single moms with many kids, disabled.
And here’s what I wanted to say. If one were to work as an investigator, with time one starts thinking everyone around is a criminal. It’s a point of reference, a vantage point which influences one’s perception of the situation and the world as a whole. So it’s important to preserve clarity. I don’t know whether I have such clarity. What I see in LPR is, in most cases, sadness. It’s a region in a state of uncertainty where it’s nearly impossible to exist and improve one’s situation. The Republics are not recognized, formally they don’t exist, nearly all the economic ties have been interrupted, and yes, there’s fighting. People are getting by. But its possible my pessimism has to do with my vantage point, not objectivity. I don’t know.
But from what I see in shops, on the streets, and all the institutions I visit, people are for the most part surviving. Many (though not all, of course), those who could, left. I see heroic doctors, emergency first responders, utilities workers, who helped ordinary people under a rain of rockets. I see many genuine people, People with a capital P. But most of them are struggling. They have poverty wages, it’s hard to find work, and the prices in shops are like everywhere else. Many survive thanks to gardens and relatives. Possibly this is my own vantage point. Because barber shops, beauty salons, supermarkets where there are dozens of sausage brands and red fish keep on working. Sushi bars and restaurants are opening up, which apparently have a clientele? So there are consumers.
When I graduated from college, I went to work for a PR agency. , I remember myself swimming in a pool, after a month of endless press releases, press clippings, and press kits, and thinking–what’s the point? What’s the outcome? The answer upset me. It’s possible I poorly chose the way to apply myself and had I chosen something other than PR I’d have found myself. But it was what it was.
Back then, under a thick layer of chlorinated water, I thought about how much I wanted to go somewhere as a volunteer, so that my efforts would be useful and lead me to believe I do not live for nought. Volunteer at an orphanage, a retirement home, a hospice. Of course, I had no idea what these places were like, and that in reality helping there is an unbelievably difficult endeavor. Although perhaps I realized what the reality was like, because I did not advance beyond thinking about it. Even today I can say I’m not quite up to it. But by paths unknown, without even wishing it, I became a leader (is there a more correct way of stating it?) of a tiny unofficial welfare fund for aiding the people of the Donbass. There are many of us and the main people in this process are our Lugansk Zhenya and Lena. It’s also my many helpers and friends here, in Moscow, other cities, and other countries. I don’t fully know the scale of work we’ve done. I only see what’s happening today and write about it. We got ourselves into various situations, sometimes got experienced disappointment, bitterness. A lot happened–some of that you’ve read about and experienced with us. But there are several people whom we help on a permanent basis, people who have become flags, markers.
Taisiya Pavlovna went to wash floors in the neighboring stairwell. She had no money, the tiny Lugansk pension is not enough, and she also has to feed her grandson who lives with her. Neighbors pay her 400 rubles a month for this work, supplementing her tiny budget.
The day was hot, very much so. The Lugansk heat can be treacherous. This is one of the hottest steppe heats there is. On that day it was 45 degrees Celsius in the shade–or about 120 Fahrenheit. She went home right after washing. She felt fine, only a little uneasy. She laid down in her apartment, closed her eyes, and woke up naked surrounded by whilte walls. And butterflies before her eyes. She spent a day unconscious in intensive care. She was saved by her grandson Sasha. Another hour and she’d have been past saving. But the boy felt something–he came home earlier than usual and found her unconscious.
Larisa’s husband and son went off to defend their home on the Donbass in early 2014. The son was 20, when the war began he took up arms. They both defended Severodonetsk. Now this city is under Ukraine. During the UAF breakthrough, they both served at an outpost between Severodonetsk and Rubezhnoye. The father sent the son to Dremov to get reinforcements. They arrived–the father and others were brought out from under fire. But not everyone was evacuated, some remained. But here’s the interesting thing: there was a local “forest ranger”. It’s not his call sign, he genuinely was one. He brought the UAF through back trails to encircle those who remained. Who were all killed. Then he ran from his “hometown”, knowing his days there were numbered after what he did. Valera, Larisa’s husband, died later, in Kirovsk in April 2015. He is buried on the Alley of Glory in Stakhanov. The son suffered a serious wound after that.
Every paragraph of this post is saturated with facts which one can’t wrap one’s head around. It’s some kind of cold horror. I can’t believe why things turn out that way, with some people suffering so much pain, suffering, and desperation that it’s nearly impossible to believe.
Natasha has had epilepsy her entire life. She had almost no fits before the war, but after 2014 they became constant. Natasha used to work at the post office but was asked to leave after the first fit. Then things got worse. She’d get fired at ever next workplace after the first fit. No labor contracts help. Because they don’t exist, as there are few jobs and plenty of workers. The employer does not need someone disabled. But Natasha is a single mom, who needs to feed not only herself but also her disabled mom and two kids.