Babushka at the front mistakes DONi.Press team for OSCE

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Grandmother at Zaitsevo gives her visitors an earful about what’s going on…
Screen capture from video above.

Laurent Brayard
DONi.Press, February 13, 2016

Translated from French by Tom Winter

During a mission up to the front line, an 80-year-old grandmother mistakes the DONi.Press and DonbassDefence team for OSCE members.

Faces are tense. 

This area of the front is forgotten by the organization of observers from the European Union. None of them have ever set foot here, yet every day there is gunfire and shelling as the Ukrainians do not hesitate to blast away at everything that moves in the sector, civil preferably.

 A little girl of nine years was injured in the afternoon, the houses are entangled with trenches and barricades, these people are the hostages of Ukraine. This elderly woman’s daughter lives few hundred meters away. But, they are the subject of a reprisal battalion: the black and red flag of the Nazi Pravy Sektor regularly flutters over the Ukrainian positions. Result: her daughter can not come visit her elderly mother, but is subjected to ridicule and ongoing harassment of Ukrainian soldiers. 

 The people report on the mood of the Ukrainian military: the regular army was behaving normally for now, but for some time they’ve been political combatants in the manner of the Waffen SS, the sinister Einsatzgruppen, these reprisal battalions of that ‘AntiTerrorist Operation’ of the Ukraine of Kiev, called ATO. 

At the Gorlovka front, soldiers extort money from civilians who want to cross to see their families, but here they have no chance to get through. In the evening, the soldiers get drunk on spirits, vodka, beer, not to mention the drugs that are everywhere. The civilians tell us at night, the Ukrainian soldiers leave their barracks, to enter and plunder the houses of civilians who have fled eastward. They fire bursts, sometimes throw grenades, and yell insults. 

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Then it starts all over again in the morning. At dawn, around 6 or 7, they fire bursts at houses and insurgent positions. Every time you go out the door there is danger, Ukrainian shooters attack anything that moves, yet they know the village has over 1200 inhabitants.

Looting is just about systematic. Residents explain how during lulls, it is not uncommon to see wrecked homes, libraries turned into toilet paper. Ukrainians do not hesitate to smash what they can not take away, to say nothing of the boobytraps, grenades, and mines they leave as parting gifts. The most innocuous objects can turn out to be deadly. 

The grandmother also recounts her advanced age, the memories of the war, German troops, and and Ukrainian auxiliaries even then, the police battalions who collaborated with Hitler. She screams her fatigue, two years of living in fear, midst whistling bullets, the two years that her husband, who has trouble walking, has to run along the walls after his nap to get to the settee, where he is not sure that he’ll someday get a shot between the eyes because he has reached for his cup or has turned on the television.

The conclusion of many of the Donbass inhabitants is often the same: “What we expect, that they’ll kill us?” Even though they understand that the large scale international game confuses all the issues, interferes and creates sudden storms here and there, they are tired, worried, and aren’t far from desiring the resumption of the advance “you know they await us on the other side, they are all waiting to be released from the Ukrainian occupation, they can only be patient, but they are waiting for us.” 

The woman who tells us this might be 60, she finally asked quite innocently when the war will end, I can not answer, and there are hundreds who ask: “I do not know, I think it will last long.” I don’t have the strength to tell them anything but my belief, though I read the weariness in their faces and the great weight on their shoulders. 

“Petro, that bandit, should just leave us in peace,” a man of forty years says, speaking of Ukrainian President Poroshenko. I cry alas for them, since the guy who broadcast that the children of Donbass would live sheltering in their basements, with his imprecations and curses, is not going to let them alone. Hatred dwells in the hearts in Ukraine, and there lies the difference here.

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