'Nothing is Sacred in War'. Part Five. The Diary of Volunteer Evdokiya Sheremeteva.
05:19 GMT 27.04.2022 (Updated: 15:34 GMT 16.01.2023)
© Sputnik / Valeriy MelnikovLugansk on the eve of elections
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov/
We continue to publish pieces from a heart-rending and sometimes unbearably honest book. This is a diary by journalist and volunteer Evdokiya Sheremeteva, who throughout the eight years of the conflict brought humanitarian aid to Donbass, rescued the sick and the wounded, and stalwartly collected evidence of the truth.
– At least there are no communication problems now. When they bombed Lugansk, I was lucky to get a signal sometimes on the roof of my house. I climbed up at my own risk. And I could see everything. Houses were burning down, shells were falling in my neighbours' gardens.
And you know what? There were only a few places in the city where you could get a signal. People flocked there. And guess what? It was these places that the Ukrainians were shelling.
– Zhenya, it can't be! It was an accident!
– Of course, it can't be. Of course, it was an accident. In fact, we were shelling ourselves. Point-blank. Oh, no. It was the air conditioners, I'm telling you! I'm no expert. I don't know how to judge. You see, they were pounding us like flies. First those and then the others. Then only the Ukrainians. My neighbours and I counted yesterday. Within a radius of 500 meters from my house, 15 houses were hit. Some shells landed in the garden, some under the gate, some in the barn, and some in the house. Two people were killed, three were maimed. All within a 500-600 metre radius. We know where it came from. Methodically. By the hour. Every day. Social facilities, infrastructure. More than 80 percent of the substations were destroyed. Gas distribution stations were busted, water pumping stations... Systematically. Every day.
And you know, sometimes, when there was no communication at all, we used to communicate using notes. We used to pass them around on shuttle buses. You know, we should erect monuments to those fellows. Drivers. They drove to the hottest places. When the Grads were hitting the city, they took people to basements. They didn't take any money.
The people we were with immediately became family, and it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Zhenya is not young but he makes an immediate impression with his assertiveness and charisma. I remember his green, completely dated sweatshirt and fingerless leather gloves.
That evening, around the table, we discussed Carlos Castaneda, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the philosophy of language. The guy's house is big and full of flowers. A huge winter garden. Lena keeps a watchful eye on her plants. Sometimes it seems as if she is talking to them and they listen to her.
© Evdokiya SheremetevaStreets of Lugansk, 2014
Streets of Lugansk, 2014
© Evdokiya Sheremeteva
All the shelves are full of figurines from Thailand, Peru... Zhenya's voice is low and resounding. It makes you want to jump up and stand at attention. He is an architect by training, but has hardly ever worked in his profession. In the wild 90s, he used to drive cars from Europe, transport people, and resell goods in Moscow. Now he has his own bus, which used to help us out all the time. A bus is what they call a minibus, like a GAZelle,, in the south.
We unloaded all the humanitarian aid at Zhenya's garage. He refused to take us to Pervomaysk - the town was under fire from all sides at the time. It was and remains encircled. Despite the ceasefire, it was constantly shelled. Zhenya and Lena risked their lives when they went to the bomb shelters and basements of the city to distribute humanitarian aid. The commandant of the city, Yevgeny Ishchenko, helped them do that.
Initially, I agreed with my husband that I would only get as far as the border and then hand the whole load over to those guys. They would distribute everything themselves and record it on video. For some reason I believed them immediately and unconditionally. It was very naïve of me, but I was lucky. It just so happened that I had met Zhenya and Lena, and not one of the thousands of swindlers and crooks who live like parasites, profiting from the war. And if it hadn't been for Zhenya and Lena, there would have been no other trips. Many things would not have happened. And perhaps most importantly – they gave me faith in humanity.
© Evdokiya SheremetevaNovosvetlovka, Lugansk People's Republic, 2014
Novosvetlovka, Lugansk People's Republic, 2014
© Evdokiya Sheremeteva
I used to think that everything was sacred in war. That it was horrible, scary and painful, which is why people should unite. I did not realise that many people were profiting from it. Now, nothing surprises me anymore.