Today the center of Donetsk is a showcase of the Donetsk national Republic (DND). He remembers a time when the city is constantly heard shots, and through the deserted streets was driving a rare bus.
Now there are lively. On weekends, on the embankment of the river Kalmius, a lot of people, grandparents in the parks playing ping-pong in an expensive cafe seated ladies and sipping a latte on a large rink on the last floor of the shopping center “Donetsk city” young skater discharged pirouettes. Everywhere fluttering black-blue-red flags, and on every second Billboard says that the separatists celebrate its third anniversary of independence.
About the war, it resembles an unusually large number of people in the form of a curfew, the news from the front and the distant rumblings of the cannons and mortars that evening heard from the Western and Northern suburbs of a million city. A kind of war and not war at the same time. After the signing of the Minsk arrangements, the front line does not change, but continues to shoot. Local say that if every day were torn sore: a little blood flow, but that’s it.
But on the outskirts of the city, the blood really flows, and people still die. It is well known to residents of the Oktyabrsky district, which is North of town between the main station and destroyed the airport. When crossing railroad tracks and wander in the labyrinth of Russian houses and blossoming gardens, can’t help but notice that the signs of the war getting bigger. Almost each house has a gate riddled with shrapnel, in some houses, holes in roofs, and other house just burned down. On the streets accumulated mountains of debris, and in front of the charred skeleton of the market is a monument to the victims civilians.
80-the summer pensioner Luba comes here regularly to check their destroyed apartment on the ground floor of the building. “I’m not living here since July 2014. When began intensive shelling, I’m deaf. Still can’t hear. The son drove me away, and I didn’t want to go anywhere. There is no water, electricity not working, heating is disabled. If I’d stayed…” — shrugs-indicates the window was broken from the explosions.
“I am 50 years old worked in a factory, and her husband of 38 years worked in the mine. He died of cancer. Before the war we lived well. We were not rich but not poor. Once lived. And now?” she asks and comes back from his destroyed apartment to other retirees sitting on the bench.
There is only the help of Russia
In January 2015, at home 41-year-old Julia fell pomegranate. Then reached the peak of the battle for the airport. “Since the beginning of the war I lived in the garage and could be hiding there in the basement,” she recalls the days when sleeping in an earth pit covered with a bulletproof vest and with a helmet on his head. “There I stayed for seven months, and then winter came and I moved back home. So it took about a month, and then directly to the garage got a grenade,” recalls the slender blonde.
“This is not a hot war, both in 2014 and 2015. Sometimes all is quiet, and shoot at night. Schools remain closed, and the local market just started this year,” says Julia. It outraged that, while there still are fighting the separatists in the centre holding parades. “The center of Donetsk and the suburbs are two completely different cities. We don’t understand why there on Victory Day conduct of the celebration. Here everything remains as before,” — she complains.
Previously, Julia worked in a local factory, and now unsuccessfully looking for work. Money is scarce and prices are rising. “We have no Windows, no roof. In the winter I can’t stay here. For a year I moved to the center of Donetsk and managed to live in three different places,” she adds.
Until recently, local residents could hope for humanitarian aid. But neither the Fund of the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, any Czech organization “People in need” which the leadership of the DNI was accused of espionage, no longer have the right to work in this area. “Humanitarian aid Akhmetov stopped when the Ukrainians announced the blockade. We had a window from the Czech Republic, but that ended. I don’t know why. Is just the Russian humanitarian aid, but it is very difficult to obtain,” says Julia, referring to the convoys of white trucks from Russia.
Keep away from Windows
We are approaching the airport. Here the consequences of the severe fighting already visible at every step. The beveled tops of the trees on the highway are mortar shells. Stretch of road along a deep trench. Local explain to me that this is not the trenches, and the legacy of rebel commander Givi. When the war started, people came with an excavator, dug up the pipe and sold it for scrap.
We come to the ruins of the Iviron monastery, which is just half a kilometer from the remnants of the control tower. The inscription on the fence: “Shame to those who steal in the ruined convent”. Lying inside the box of ammunition and pieces of shrapnel. The walls are covered with slogans of the rebels. My guide warns me that to get closer to the Windows is dangerous. Close to the Ukrainian position.
“For some time there were Ukrainian troops, and now the airport is in control of the DNI. 800 metres from the landing field are already Ukrainian soldiers,” explains 53-year-old Volodya, who is caring for victims of the attacks on the cemetery near the monastery. “People come out and we help them. They are few, but they go. Family reserve again. Before people came, dug a grave, buried the dead,” he says about the past three years.
Danger mines here, apparently, one is not particularly worried. “I don’t think about it. At Easter we had a big procession to the monastery, and, thank God, no one, nothing happened”, — laughs Vladimir. Together with his wife in a month they get 5.2 thousand rubles, but not complaining. “We have a vegetable garden, and we grow cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and in the garden we have rabbits running,” he says.
It will not please everyone
On the way back we see the largest mosque in Donetsk. It is named in honor of Akhat of Brahima, the local mafia of Tatar origin, which in the dashing 90-e years have grown out the butcher king Donetsk crime. In the end, nicknamed Alex the Greek blew at the stadium “Shakhtar” in Donetsk, whose Chairman he was. From the authority were only rolexes.
After his football club was engaged in his student, Rinat Akhmetov. Today, this oligarch in Donetsk — the enemy of society, whose business, the rebels nationalized. But the local Imam bravely defends him. “Rinat Akhmetov helps everyone. And Christians and Muslims. For three years he helped us”, says the Imam, and invites you to tea.
The war did not spare his mosque. In the dome there is a hole from the shrapnel. “Before the war we had a full house and not enough room — people were standing in the yard. We did not close even during the war, and always came seven or eight people. We saved what we could,” says the Imam, and he shows us a room with bunks, spring 2014 children, fleeing the war in Slavyansk.
Local Muslims, according to the Imam, not enemies, either Russia or Ukraine. Politics does not interest them. “You cannot please everyone. Today they are enemies, and tomorrow they will be friends. It is better to stay away. We want to live in peace with everyone. Different religions, but God is one,” concludes the Imam.