Zaitsevo

Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

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DPR Peoples Militia Platoon Commander Ryka.  Photo | Eva Bartlett

October 16, 2019, Mint Press News

On September 2, I left the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don via minibus heading northwest to the border of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and on into Donetsk. For my first few days there, I rented an inexpensive apartment in the heart of the city. Walking on a long tree-lined and cafe-filled pedestrian walkway, life seemed normal. But I would soon find that for the people living in Donetsk, it is anything but. 

I passed a cafe where a former DPR leader and military commander, Alexander Zakharchenko, was assassinated by a remotely detonated bomb in August 2018. He was beloved, and as I stood there, two women stopped to pay respects and pray.

Memorial to former DPR leader, and a former military commander, Alexander Zakharchenko who was assassinated in 2018

Days later, at a transit hub in Donetsk, I met with Alexey Karpushev, a resident of the northern city of Gorlovka, an area hard-hit by Ukrainian bombing, and whose outskirts continue to be shelled near-daily.

A long line of mostly students extended around the corner waiting for the next available minibus to Gorlovka. After an hour of waiting, the minibus arrived and we boarded for the bumpy ride north.

Alexey deposited me at a hotel, a rambling Soviet-era structure just off a pedestrian area that during the evenings becomes crowded with families, lovers and friends strolling, and children bicycling.

In the morning he took me to a central park where a chess tournament was taking place. For the next five hours, fourteen adults and eight children played chess. A hundred meters away, an old but functioning children’s park with small amusement rides attracts more kids as the morning morphs into the afternoon.

Chess in a central Gorlovka park. Four years prior, all of Gorlovka was repeatedly targeted by Ukrainian missile fire.JPG

In the tranquility and normalcy, it was hard to believe that Gorvloka’s central areas were terrorized by Ukrainian-fired bombs just a few years prior. “Summer 2016 was last time city center was bombed,” Alexey would tell me later. “We still hear the shelling, but it’s on the outskirts. People are sniped there, too.”

Gorlovka was hardest hit in 2014, especially on July 27, when the center was rocked by Ukrainian-fired Grad and Uragan missiles from morning to evening. After the dust settled and the critically-injured had succumbed to their wounds, at least 30 were dead, including five children, Alexey tells me. The day came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

Alexsey and I walked around the city, where he showed me the Bloody Sunday sites. We passed a busy bus stop on a busy street where residents were amassed waiting for their buses. This bus stop was one of the Bloody Sunday sites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Alexey told me:

The largest number of victims happened near this bus stop. There were mainly babushkas (grandmothers) here, selling flowers and vegetables. They came under Grad strikes and they died.”

Hero Square, not far away, also came under fire: “There was mainly youth there, students. Several people died from the blasts, including the ‘Madonna of Gorlovka’, Kristina Zhuk, with her infant daughter Kira.” CONTINUE READING

From Frontline Village of Krutaya Balka, Where Residents Under Constant Ukrainian Machine Gun Fire, Sniping, Bombing

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The other day I went to Krutaya Balka, a frontline village N of Donetsk and just outside of Yasinovataya. Around 15 people (mostly elderly) remain in this village, under Ukrainian shelling & heavy machine gun fire.

I spoke with those I could find at home while I was there. All told me they were constantly being assaulted by Ukrainian forces) by heavy machine gun fire and shelling. The machine gun fire not only punctures the walls but also can set fire to the roof, thus the whole house.

All said they had no where to go, so they stay, living in hell in an area otherwise quite lovely. Same as I heard in Zaitsevo, further north in the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The man in the photo (walking down the lane) allowed me to interview & film him, but without including his face because every day he has to walk across an extremely dangerous area to reach his home. He said he had already been shot in the leg by a Ukrainian sniper crossing in that area. But what to do? Where to go? So he daily faces death, walking without any sort of body armour.

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DPR Defender: “(Ukraine’s) biggest mistake here was using weapons against civilians”

 

Recently, I visited Zaitsevo, a village in the north of the Donetsk People’s Republic. It has been relentlessly shelled by Ukrainian forces/paramilitaries since 2014, and continues to be bombed nearly every day and night. 

The population has dropped from 3,500 to 1,600, including 200 children.

With me was Dmitry Astrakhan, press officer of the DPR People’s Militia, and a People’s Militia officer going by the nickname “Gyurza”.

In this clip, Gyurza relates how events unfolded in Zaitsevo, how the local defenders have maintained their defensive position, and some of the violations committed by Ukrainian forces.

See related videos/posts:

DPR Village Resident Says Ukrainian Bombings Destroying Homes Street By Street

Resident of the Mine 6-7 District, DPR, Shows Damage to her Home After Ukrainian Shellings

Zaitsevo (DPR) resident: “We are not living, we are surviving”

DPR Village Resident Says Ukrainian Bombings Destroying Homes Street By Street

Zaitsevo, a village in the north of the Donetsk People’s Republic, has been relentlessly shelled by Ukrainian forces/paramilitaries since 2014, and continues to be bombed nearly every day and night.

The population has dropped from 3,500 to 1,600, including 200 children.

I interviewed Irina Dikun, head of the administration of Zaitsevo, who spoke at length on the terror civilians have faced over the years and continue to face with the Ukrainian bombing that erupts nearly every single night, targeting civilian homes and village infrastructure.

“Those who could leave, left. Mostly it’s elderly remaining here. None of the ceasefire agreements (24/5) reached here. Not more than 1 or 2 days of ceasefire,” she said.

“They are destroying street by street in the town. They take one street and destroy it house by house. Then they turn to another street.
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Zaitsevo resident: “We are not living, we are surviving”

Yesterday, I was able to visit areas on the outskirts of Gorlovka: mine 6/7 and Zaitsevo, both hard-hit by incessant Ukrainian shelling. Civilians are suffering immensely there, to the silence of Western corporate media.

En route to these areas, Dmitri, press officer of the DPR People’s Militia, gave me this advice:

-When you hear the whistle of a mortar, drop down immediately–to avoid the spray of shrapnel.

-Don’t go off the road; most areas haven’t been checked for unexploded ordnance.

-They (Ukraine) use drones with explosive devices; you don’t know whether its a reconnaissance drone or one that can bomb [I remember this very well from Gaza].  If someone yells air attack, you need to run to find a shelter with a roof. When you hear the ‘outgoing’ call from the spotter, you have 10 to 15 seconds to run.

He spoke of the heavy artillery Ukraine uses in spite of the “ceasefire”, and how Ukraine hides their shelling from the OSCE by doing so after hours (when difficult to film, in dark), claiming any damage was done by the DPR side (to itself), or say they (Ukraine) were merely defending themselves, replying to DPR attacks.

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[See this:

“In the period from September 2 to September 8, 86 ceasefire violations by Ukrainian armed formations were recorded. Overall, 918 rounds of ammunition were fired (8.5 tons or 99 boxes).

During the designated period, the enemy fired at the DPR 40 152mm artillery rounds and more than 260 120mm and 82mm mortar rounds. Two civilians were wounded and 23 houses and infrastructures facilities were damaged in shelling.”

A new comprehensive, lasting and indefinite ceasefire came into force in Donbass at 00:01 on July 21.”]

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