Year without ATO: Life in peaceful Mariupol

Author : Olena Holubyeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

Mariupol turned out to be in the epicenter of hostilities in Eastern Ukraine. In April 2016, the front line was moved for 25 km from the city
10:15, 10 April 2017

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112 Agency

Before the beginning of the war, it was possible to get to Mariupol by Kyiv-Donetsk plane (for one and a half hours). Now Donetsk is temporarily occupied territory, and Donetsk airport is a legendary monument to the courage of Ukrainian "cyborgs" who kept its defense to the last.

Almost everyone gets from Mariupol to Kyiv by train now. Given that the train goes through Zaporizhia, the trip takes almost 16 hours. Earlier the route ran through Donetsk, which was much more rational in time than now.  

People in the train often complain about this endless trips, this is one of the main topics of discussion. At least the high-speed train "Hyundai" could be launched if there is no plain. It turns out that my fellow travelers on the Kyiv-Mariupol route are travelers with great experience.

Experienced people do not advise to save on tickets in the reserved seat. Usually the soldiers travel in these cars.

Related: Donbas: Mariupol sector remains epicenter of combat activity

They often drink and even fight. Everything happens,” sighs my conductor.

People in our car do not drink, but they are very sociable. Except the transport, the people are worried about the war. Ironically, everyone who has gathered for the evening tea knows about it not from news.

We immediately took the children and moved away. We thought, in some short time, everything will calm down,” the man who left Donetsk in 2014 shares his memories.

"And we thought that it would be like in Slovyansk," says another one.

They remember their abandoned houses and apartments.

The man travels to Volnovaha, and then to occupied Donetsk; he wants to sell an apartment.

"We have already lost our hope." But the realtor called. He says he got the deposit already.

Related: Car explosion in Mariupol qualified as terrorist attack

He decided not to go with the car. The road is not good: 100 km to Donetsk the highway is just terrible.

By shelling?” I specify.

No, - the knowledgeable interlocutors object. - By armored personnel carriers.”

So we decided to travel through Volnovaha. The taxi drivers have established regular routes through a checkpoint. But how to export money. DPR representatives say, more than a thousand dollars is not allowed.”

"Russia banned money transfers to Ukraine. In the sense, if you go to Russia and send from there.”

And how are you going to take your furniture and other things?" I ask.

Related: Mariupol residents report of powerful explosions in city center

"We never thought about it, - they say. - Then, in 2014, during the shelling, people just took their dogs, cats, everything needed. Then those who stayed (acquaintances, neighbors) have send everything they could, for example photos. That is all.”

So you sell an apartment with furniture?”


Related: French delegation arrives in Mariupol

Of course, with furniture, with curtains, rugs, towels, dishes. With everything that we had there. I will take only photos of what have remained.”

Is it painful?” - I specify.

"Very painful," says my interlocutor, "because I remember how we finally managed to buy this apartment with my wife back in the 90s. We exchanged our one-bedroom apartment with surcharge. And then the times were restless, and the information that the apartment was being sold was passed through acquaintances so that the bandits did not find out. Our daughter was born, already in this apartment.”

Well, it is good that at least you sold it. But how about those houses and apartments in which those who stayed in the occupied territories are settled without permission? What would happen when the territory returns home, under the control of Ukraine?” I ask.

Related: Mine blast was the cause of death of three marines near Mariupol

"Let them just try, I will kick them out of our house, nasty invaders," the young girl said. "Our cottage stayed in Shyrokino. For a year we do not know what's going on there. Earlier, my mother called neighbors, and now they also left. My mom and grandfather build it with their own hands. It is close to the sea...”

"Well, you, you cannot do that," the interlocutors gently softened her, "you cannot judge those who stayed there. After all, someone's parents are sick ...”

“But they come to Mariupol to get Ukrainian pensions… And my grandmother, unlike them, does not receive a second pension in the occupied territories.”

The interlocutors are silent. Little by little, the conversation returns to Mariupol.

Related: Earthquake of 4.5 points magnitude took place in Mariupol

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