The children of the liberated Mariupol are adults in a special way. They don’t talk about toys or entertainment, they talk about how to survive during combat. Having visited the ruined city, the “RG” correspondent talked with unusual guys who hit to the core with their childish reasoning about life.
Filtering is not a big deal
When you enter Mariupol from the right bank, you immediately see a large number of cars and people. The roadsides on both sides are littered with broken-down vehicles: there are cars and trucks shot up. Here you can also see columns of cars entering and leaving the city. Many cars do not have windshields or rear windows, some drivers cover them with film and tape them, often you can see the inscription “Children” on the side windows. In the cabin, several tired children with anxiety in their eyes.
Ordinary pedestrians move in the same direction, many people leave the city with children with large trunks in their hands. Finding no transport, they go on foot, hoping someone will take them to the village of Volodarskoye, where there is a temporary accommodation center for evacuees. There, employees of the DPR services receive refugees: the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a field kitchen, a first aid post, people are filtered, after which they are sent, if you wish, to a peaceful place. cities of the Donetsk People’s Republic or to Russia.
The Ukrainian media continues to speak to residents of Mariupol and other liberated territories about the “horrors of the filtration camps that the DPR authorities are forced into.” Some even believe these rumors. In fact, it turns out that the filtering is a routine review of the data of all those who leave the territories affected by the hostilities. As the security officials themselves explain, the procedure is aimed at preventing people involved in the Ukrainian security forces, members of nationalist battalions, members of sabotage and reconnaissance groups, as well as their accomplices, from entering the DPR. In a word, they check that fugitive Nazis do not infiltrate peaceful territory.
The peculiar smell of the burned city
As soon as you cross the city limits, to the right along the Zaporozhye highway you can see the huge anthill-like territory of the former METRO shopping center, where the United Russia Humanitarian Aid Center is now located. It is there that they distribute humanitarian aid to people, form evacuation lists, after which they can leave Mariupol by bus in an organized manner.
We stopped next to the humanitarian aid center. We have to deliver the package to a family of relatives from Donetsk, and also wait for the guys who accompanied us through the city. And we draw your attention to the fact that a car from the Ministry of Emergency Situations is standing nearby in the field near some kind of well. Rescuers and several people in white medical overalls and respirators crowded in on the spot. Several of us decided to see what was going on, went to the pit, talked about something with the rescuers and quickly returned.
The guys came back, they said: “Don’t go, don’t look at it. Especially take photos. It’s hell there: the bodies of the dead are piled up in the pit, 40 people, maybe more. Now they are being taken out for exhumation.” .From the other side, there was a strong corpse smell.Now I understand why people put on respirators.
After some time, we were approached by three people: the head of the family, Sergei, his wife Natasha and their son Danil. The boy appears to be about 10 years old, when we asked them if they knew who was buried in this pit, the boy himself offered to say so. “When the war started here in the countryside, there were many dead lying on the side of the road. There are both civilians and soldiers from the DPR and Russia. As long as the Armed Forces were here, no one removed the bodies… After the Russians came in, picked up the bodies and buried them in the pits so they wouldn’t decompose. Look, there are still bodies buried nearby, and over there too, “Danil showed us several hills of dirt next to the already dug pit. .
As we were dumbfounded by this information, Natasha nudged her son in the back, “Let’s go home now, smart boy. And thanks to you guys for the package, you brought the medicine just in time.”
It should be noted that when we arrived in Mariupol on April 23, the bodies were no longer lying in the streets. At that time, they were gradually removed by the DPR security forces, but there were still many dead in the cellars and under the rubble of houses. Thus, a mixed smell of burning and decomposing bodies of the dead was felt throughout the city.
chocolate bar price
At the humanitarian aid distribution point in one of the schools, near the minibus, from which volunteers were unloading boxes with medicine and baby food, a crowd of children aged 8 to 12 on scooters and bicycles gathered. It was evident that they missed sweets. Therefore, when volunteers Marina and Yasmin took several chocolate bars out of their bags, the boys came over, thanked the gift and hid the sweets in their pockets, but did not eat right away. “We will take it home, we will share it with our people,” the boys explained.
And then two of them came up to our Grisha driver and softly whispered in his ear, “Uncle, are you still coming? If so, come on, we’ll show you where you can get whole wheels for a car.” The fact is that in Mariupol the roads are still littered with shell fragments and smashed houses. And if they have already been removed on the road, then in the yards you can easily tear the wheel. As the volunteers themselves acknowledged, once they had to return with a flat tire, and a few days ago they lost two more wheels. Good thing there were spare parts in the car – now it is a huge shortage throughout the Republic.
Literally 10 minutes later, I saw Grisha come back with these guys, and in his hands he had two whole wheels. “Where does this wealth come from?” – Asked. “The little ones were showing broken abandoned cars in a neighboring yard. The owners died, but these wheels will still be useful to us. This is not the last time we come here,” admits the driver.
Maybe someone will be outraged that you can’t do this and take someone else’s. I agree, of course not. But in war, they have their own special rules for survival, and these rules are well understood by the guys who gave the driver whole wheels for chocolate bars. They know for a fact that Uncle Grisha will come again and again to help them deal with many post-war problems.
Charge the phone, read the newspaper and eat porridge
As volunteers in the school lobby handed out Easter cakes to all the remaining residents for Easter, candles from the church, and a new edition of a Donetsk newspaper to the elderly in nearby houses, I walked into the courtyard, where a generator diesel was humming very loudly. According to local residents, the generator works every day from 08:00 to 13:00. At this time, you can charge mobile phones, gadgets and flashlights here. “We don’t have electricity and we charge devices here. It’s noisy, of course, but it’s not scary,” says Nikolai, who was sitting next to two teenagers.
“And this is our” Lace “- the head of the entrance, – laughs the man, pointing to a guy about twelve years old. – He not only charges the phone for himself, but also for all the neighbors.” He rides a scooter too and it amuses us all.”
For such words, the boy was embarrassed: “I’m not the eldest, we have Dora Nikolaevna, the eldest, but I just help her, that’s all,” he muttered under his breath. Next to the children in a wooden chair he stalked a frail seven-year-old girl with a newspaper in her hands. She looked at the sheet, which contained a color photograph of a Russian soldier in uniform. The girl said that her name was Masha and that she liked the newspaper very much. “School doesn’t work yet, but I like to read. Newspapers are distributed here, I take them and read them every time. Mom allows me,” admitted the little girl.
There were two huge pans on the patio fire. As the girl Daria, who skillfully wielded a stick instead of a ladle, said, she cooks porridge in one pot every day, and tea is brewed in another. “Today we have rice with canned fish and tea with bread. More than 70 people come for dinner, mostly elderly people who have absolutely nothing to eat,” admitted the girl. Just then, a younger girl ran up to her and asked to let her stir her porridge. “This is Alyonka, my little sister,” explains Daria. Still, Alyonka begged her sister for a homemade ladle, and importantly she began to cook.
When the volunteers had distributed all the Easter cakes, a young woman entered the school lobby with a little girl in her arms with funny ponytails on her head. “Tell me, have the Easter cakes been distributed in our house?” the woman asked, and hearing that it turned out that her house had not yet chosen an elder and had not presented lists, she turned sadly. “Wait,” volunteer Sergei yelled at her, “Well, how can we leave such beauty without a gift?”
She ran to the car, took out two Easter cakes, a bag of candy, and handed them to the little boy. “What’s your name?” asked Sergei. “Margot,” the girl answered quietly. “Yes, you are the future queen Margo! Smile, everything will be fine now,” said the volunteer and the girl smiled back.
When the volunteers and I left the school, local children walked us back. The boys waved to the cars and yelled, “Let’s go again!”
We will come, we will definitely come!
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