In may, Ukraine will host the Eurovision song contest, and tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Kiev.
Meanwhile, 70 miles from the capital, the conflict continues, which to date has cost the lives of 10 thousand people. Right now fierce fighting in the industrial city of Avdiivka.
Expressen reporter Diamant salihu (Diamant Salihu) (text) and photographer Kristoffer Hilmarsson (Christoffer Hjalmarsson) tell about events from the place of forgotten European war.
Diary, Avdeevka, 13 Feb
Olga Dudnikova and her children live in the midst of war.
A little less than a week ago in their kitchen was hit by a rocket.
“I always fear when flying the rocket, but I know what to do,” says Daniel, 11 years old.
The apartment is on the third floor Olga Dudnikova, 31, shows a big hole in the kitchen wall.
The apartment Windows overlook the side of the separatist Donetsk Republic. The front line runs very close.
As always at night, in the evening, the family heard the whistling and explosions of rockets exchanged between Pro-Russian forces in Donetsk and the Ukrainian government troops.
According to the Ukrainian military, trenches on both sides of the front in some places is at a distance of only a few hundred meters from each other.
On Friday night, when the clock was 22:45, one of the shells hit the kitchen wall.
Year-old Maxim was sleeping in a cot, a four year old Eva was lying on the lower tier bunk beds. The elder brother slept upstairs. Olga resting on the couch, where she sleeps with her husband Roman. He that night was working the night shift at coke plant.
“We got that evening there was no electricity, so the children went to sleep early. We were lucky that we were not here,” says the mother of the family, showing the place where the rocket hit.
At the time of entering the apartment was filled with dust and smoke.
“I grabbed Maxim and eve and ran to the bathroom. Don’t know how I got so much energy to raise both at the same time,” she says.
Despite the sound of impact, she had to shout at Daniel to Wake up. He almost doesn’t react to missiles. The son ran after them into the bathroom and sat there with the others, while the mother is not convinced that you can quit.
These are the everyday for just over 16 thousand inhabitants who remained in the plant. An important industrial city in the first week of 2017 was the center of the most brutal battles in the Ukraine over the last year. Both sides came to the agreement on a cease-fire, but constantly violate it. For 2016, the cease-fire, according to the OSCE, leading to the observation of the conflict was changed to 300 thousand times.
Olga Dudnikova inspects what is left from the kitchen. The outer window glass is also broken, but after another explosion. Hole in the wall while covered with a blanket as protection from the cold. Local Pro-government officials have promised that the wall will be repaired in a short time and in the same brick. He saved the lives of children.
“This building was built in Soviet times, the walls consist of brick masonry in four rows. They are much stronger than the newer concrete houses. There’s a rocket pierced through the walls,” says the mother, who is very proud of how many can withstand her house.
As we stood and talked in the kitchen, the children have returned home after several days spent with my grandmother.
Daniel didn’t sleep well this week. At school he was taught to behave during the attack, but this time he did not have time to do anything.
“When you start to fly rockets, you need to rush to the ground,” he says.
Ten-year-old cat named Liza and kitten Busya, which the children recently picked up on the street, rubbing around the feet of Daniel. He takes his hands and hugs his younger brother Maxim.
Darkness descends. As if by signal, again start firing.
We ask Olga, would she move to a safer place, not to live with children in the line of fire.
“This is our home and our city, where my husband and I met. We have nowhere to go.”
The fighting claimed 10 thousand lives
In January 2014 to 200 thousand demonstrators gathered in Independence Square in Kiev. Demonstrators have occupied several government buildings, while between activists and riot police turned bloody street battles.
22 February 2014 the Ukrainian Parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. The former President fled to Russia.
In Eastern Ukraine, a region where mainly concentrated in the coal and steel industry, which provides most of the country’s GDP, grew discontent with the new government.
In March 2014, formed a separatist Republic in the Autonomous Ukrainian Republic of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin was granted authority to “protect the interests of Russian citizens” on the Peninsula, where at that time lived just over two million people. The annexation was condemned, against Russia imposed international sanctions.
The regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the East of the country in April 2014 proclaimed themselves independent people’s republics. Control is transferred to the local militia. This marked the beginning of armed clashes in the East, which to date has claimed 10 thousand lives. Although it is not confirmed officially, it is believed that Russia supports Pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine, sending men and munitions.
After Donald trump became President of the United States, fighting in the East of Ukraine, including in the industrial city of Avdeevka, increased again. In recent weeks killed many soldiers and civilians on both sides.