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Stories that you confided to us

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Liubov Zhukova

‘We are tired of running down to the cellar in a race against death’

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In February 2015, at 3 o’clock in the morning, we heard an explosion. We were here sleeping with my mother (Yevdokiya Fedoseivna Shukhina, she is 91 years old). We got up in what was on us, in our nighties, and rushed to the cellar barefoot. In the morning, when the dawn broke, we got up and looked around. The worst thing was that four shells fell in our courtyard. They destroyed everything they could: the summer kitchen and this new house too. One shell fell in the garden and badly damaged the trees. In fact, it destroyed the garden.

‘We are tired of running down to the cellar in a race against death’

Then after some time, there was the second shelling, in a few days. One shell fell just outside the gate, and one landed behind the house. The roof was blown off by the blast. Well, thank God, the village council helped us and we managed to put a new roof, but the house still requires some major renovation. And we get a pension of 1,300 hryvnias. My mother is 91 years old. We get two pensions of 1,300 hryvnias each. One pension is spent entirely on medicines. For 1,300 hryvnias, we barely live from hand to mouth.

This is where we had a bathtub. And there was a gas stove here. There was a storage room over there. What saved us was the fact that the shell fell in the storage room. The bathtub was moved outdoor [by the blast]. All this was torn off and collapsed. We got a slight concussion, but at least we could go down to the cellar, and we escaped it and remained alive.

Well, we came to our senses and then moved into the house. Three days later, there was another shelling. I don’t go out of the yard. I have sore legs after the concussion. On our street, I was the worst-hit. The deminers, who came over, took this "Grad" shell, which was stuck in the fireplace in our house. They barely dug it out. It was such a long rocket. They said: ‘You have a good guardian angel.’ We survived miraculously. We remained alive just by miracle.

We had an old icon hanging over there in the corner. So, not a single stone fell into this corner where we were lying, although shell fragments and bricks were flying. In the morning, when we saw what this shell had done, we were shocked. The dogs were both lying here shell-shocked. The goats survived just by miracle. There were three goats and all survived. They were just scared. They were stunned a little, but they remained alive. Neither we nor our livestock suffered.

There is no money for major repairs of the house. We don’t even have money to put the windowpanes. Every morning you go out, look at these ruins and think: where did I put my validol (methyl valerate) this time? You experience this horror every morning. You can't even imagine what a person feels when a shell falls upon your head in the middle of the night.

‘We are tired of running down to the cellar in a race against death’

You live... in eternal fear. At night, in the evening, you listen trying to tell where they shell from, where they shell to, thinking whether to run to the cellar or not to run, what to wait for. I cannot describe it to you what horror we live in, what a nightmare. How long will this last? We all will simply die here from heart [diseases]. Every day people die here from heart attacks and strokes.

After the explosion, my legs almost ceased functioning. I can barely walk and have a high blood pressure. And I have some problems with my heart too. I take some pills. I spent 800 hryvnias on pills yesterday. And my pension is 1,300 hryvnias. And I only buy the most important, cheap and vital drugs.

Basically, we do not live, but rather survive, survive and wait. We hope that they will stop shooting, that peace will come soon and we will have the opportunity to die in peace.

Only elderly people remained here. There are few young people. We wish they would let us live our days and die in peace, but what is this? Every night you go to bed and listen: will there be a shelling or not, will an explosion wake you up at night or not?

We are tired of running down to the cellar in a race against death. We lie in bed and wait. What will be will be. You cover your head with a blanket and wait for what will happen next. Local population has suffered so much... Who will compensate us for this material and moral damage and when? We are not needed to anybody.

We wish they would at least give us some people and a vehicle to take out this debris, so that we would not be so scared to look at all this every morning. All local people suffer from heart diseases. We are surviving and waiting for the end of the war, so that we could somehow start to improve our everyday life. But how can you get things better if they shell day and night?

Luganskoe 2016 Video Civilian's stories pensioners 2016 destroyed or damaged housing safety and life support elderly (60+)
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