Spring 2023. Many neighborhoods of destroyed Mariupol were rebuilt. And the city center is carefully restored. Photo: Alexander SUKHOV / RIA Novosti
LIVING “ACTIVE ARMOR”
Mariupol had an unenviable fate: the Ukrainian national regiment “Azov” * deliberately locked its inhabitants in city blocks, turning them into a “human shield”. Ours reached the outskirts of Mariupol in a matter of days after the start of the NWO. The authorities of the Ukrainian city convened the last meeting on February 25 and a day later fled directly to kyiv. They still represent “city management” on their telegram channels. I don’t understand who reads them, being in their right mind.
Real power in the city then passed to Azov and a hodgepodge of Ukrainian border guards and marines. As the residents of Mariupol told me, there was no difference between the first, the second and the third in terms of the degree of brutality towards the “peaceful”. This is a Vaseushny tank, not an “Azov” one, playing Tetris with a high-rise building on Metallurgov Avenue, knocking down apartment after apartment, until the entrance collapsed.
As one of the “Azovites” wrote on the Internet with a laugh: “Now the Mariupol separatists will be our “active armor”.
Exits from the city were blocked, cars were shot at. Infiltrated units behind the front line.
A familiar family, trying to escape from the ring of fire, walked 40 kilometers in one day. The children were carried in his arms. And they took it out. After the liberation of the city he returned. I met them in October, near the polling station – Mariupol was returning to Russia.
WATER WAS MORE THAN GOLD
My first encounter with the people of Mariupol happened in March. An elderly couple struggled across the blown-up bridge, balancing on a surviving strip of concrete no wider than a postcard.
All the wounded inhabitants told similar stories: “I sat in the basement for a month, went out to see the sun, a mine blew up”, “I went to the fire hydrant for water” …
I remember an old man approached me on the street and asked me for water and a handful of pills. I handed him a sealed bottle of mineral water. He backed away, “Is that all for me? Is this a gift?” And I cried. Perhaps it was in those seconds that I realized what was happening in the city. And he never returned to TOT Mariupol without filling the trunk of a car in Donetsk with bread, water and milk. And he drank cigarettes. As one city dweller told me, “Water is now more expensive than gold, and smoking is even more expensive.”
The spring of 2022 was cold in Mariupol. And after the fighting, people came out of the cellars, where they hid from the bullets, in the sun, to warm themselves.
Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN
STORM RELATED WALLS
It so happened that I entered the city as part of the “Vostok” battalion of the DPR, my vision of what was happening was literally “from the trench.”
The commander of the Vostok mortar battery, Yura, having taken advantage of a break in fire, came up to me:
– Dima, do you recognize me?
I remembered. 2014, April, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine approached Mariupol, and representatives of the insurgents went to talk, as it seemed to them, with “their” servicemen. Yura was one of the negotiators. The military swore that they would not shoot their own people, and a couple of weeks later, on May 9, together with the scum of the national battalions, they massacred the people of Mariupol.
Yura understood everything then, he fought all these years and now he threw mine after mine at the enemy, destroying his hometown, telling me: “It hurts, but there is no other way, we will rebuild everything better than it was”.
I remember how I was sitting with the assault group in Azovstal, in the corridor, where there were solid walls. Shells were falling 200 meters from us every 15 minutes, and I could see the brick wall of our shelter bending from the waves. The liberation of Mariupol was moving inexorably towards the end.
“WE REBUILD BETTER THAN IT WAS”
I talked to a lot of people from the town. Not everyone believed that Mariupol would be rebuilt, it seemed impossible.
But I saw how Grozny revived, I told them, they still did not believe.
Now believe, of course.
Mortarman Yura was right: “We will rebuild everything better than it was.”
Already rebuilt and continue to build. And even the historic center, torn apart during the assault, will not be restored, but restored. There is no longer any doubt about it.
In the middle of last summer, I passed through Mariupol. They took me to a newly opened bakery in the city. They didn’t let us go empty-handed: they handed us a box with two dozen loaves of amazing white bread. My image of a post-apocalyptic city collapsed. But he could not leave this city with bread. The smell of him lingered in the car for a long time. I went to one of the markets. The blown up tanks have already been dragged from here. I chose the woman with the kindest face in this market and told her:
– I have a box of hot bread in my car. Take it, I can’t take your bread away.
The woman understood me well. She distributed the bread and was left with two loaves. They caught up with me near the car, put a circle of the freshest sausage in my hands. They said that in the morning, the farmer friends brought a whole lot for sale.
I went to Donetsk. Along the way, I stopped on a concrete bump with the most accurate hit of the projectile. I always stopped there, to collect awareness in a bunch. I ate sausages, broke bread with my hands and thought that if they fed me like that in Mariupol, then the worst was behind this city. The signal is true.
INSTEAD OF EPILOGUE
people are coming back
I remember well how the revival and restoration of Mariupol began. At the end of the fighting, some 200,000 inhabitants remained in the city and were deprived of all basic human needs: food, water, medical care, electricity, communications and the Internet. We start with a non-standard move, they do not like to mention it in the recent official history of Mariupol. The military command, still storming the city, decided not to interfere with the opening of the warehouses of the local logistics center. The people distributed water and food to hold out until the end of the fighting. Then, on the site of a hypermarket, the first humanitarian center appeared. There they distributed rations, medicines, charged phones. Bicycles were repaired for the townspeople free of charge, few people understand how important it was! They began recruiting teams of volunteers to clear the streets. In the middle of summer, the transport began to work.
What do we have now?
The trams are gone. Mobile communications, water and electricity – in all areas of the city. More than half of the schools have been restored, and not only have windows been put in and shell holes repaired, but also the layout has been changed, the facades have been insulated, and new equipment has been brought in. The streets have been cleared of rubble and rubble, the asphalt has been restored. Cafes and supermarkets are open, cards are accepted for payment. In the vicinity of Mariupol, in either direction, roads and bridges have been restored.
The biggest problem is destroyed multi-story buildings. Those that cannot be restored are being demolished; in return, 37 new houses with 2,709 apartments have already been built. About to deliver 4 more new microdistricts. There is a problem – the restoration of the destroyed in the private sector. There is no doubt that they will succeed. Now 300,000 people live in Mariupol, including returnees and builders. And there will only be more.
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