Does it really matter who shoots on Donetsk?
Fighting in Donetsk have never stopped. Even now, that the howitzer shots are not as frequent as a few days ago and the city is looking for an apparent normality, Ukrainian army and separatists fight their battle in the neighborhoods just north of the station. Meanwhile, people struggle to live. This is the story of one day in Donetsk.
- Friday, 14 November 2014
In Donetsk's not hard to get to the front, just take a bus. It is one of the many absurdities of this war, like the restaurants open in the center and the sandbags on shop windows. Like the walls of the room trembling at the blows of howitzers and children going to school. And like the bus that takes people home zigzagging between shells holes on the ground.
Bus nr. 2 goes to the station. Trains no longer go. There are a couple of locomotives half destroyed and soldiers guarding the entrance. On the door of the left-luggage someone wrote “Shelter” with a red spray. The underground passage is open, there goes those who must go the other way, to Kuybishevskij district. It is an area made up of old houses with sloping roof, and courtyards. And in the courtyards there are games for kids, slides and baby walkers. And then, from there, small buses go to the suburbs of Pisky and Vesele. A stone's throw from the airport. These areas were not evacuated. "People also need to go home," says Andrei, the bus driver, shrugging. "What should we do? It's my work."
A semblance of normality
How to try to describe this city? While I am writing, in a restaurant in the center frequented by the militiamen, the music from the speakers is so loud that is impossible to hear the explosions. It is one of the few places that do not close straight after dark. The waiters smile as they serve the few customers. Two boys in camouflage with Kalashnikov came to pick up takeaway pizzas. Another man in leather jacket and holster to the waist walks around the tables bumping all the chairs with his gun.
During the day, the center of Donetsk assumes a semblance of normalcy. Many shops are closed, but many are slowly reopening. In the distance, the sound of the artillery seem just a thunderstorm. People wait at bus stops, but sometimes it is a tank passing through. At an intersection, a police car checks an accident between a Toyota and a cannon.
The search for normality is almost paradoxical. It is not the result of an easing of tension or fighting, but only the result of the routine that makes the ordinary extraordinary.
The war within a few meters
People are angry. When they see pull out the camera, the old women ask me what the hell I have to photograph. But then the desire to tell their history takes over. A young man pulls me by the sleeve and shows me his cell phone photos: a hole in the roof, splinters as big as eggs. Two guys take me to their house on a narrow street full of smashed roofs and gates pierced by shrapnel. The front is a little further on, machine guns seem very close, explosions shake the air, women with shopping bags walk fast, as if that would change something.The Ukrainian army is west and north of the airport, in Pisky. Battalions Vostok and Somali of the DNR militia are a few hundred meters south, and in the eastern suburb of Spartak. They fight their war between a handful of streets. It makes no sense to try to figure out who shells the city. It makes no sense to look for a culprit to one side or the other.