From Fort Russ
Laurent BRAYARD, in DONiPRESS, February 24, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter
Donbass war widows, one of them Natalia, agreed to meet the team SaveDonbassPeople and received from Laurent Brayard’s Donors Group a sum of 10 000 rubles to mitigate somewhat the suffering of her hellish situation. They came from Ukraine to kill them, they defended themselves to be free, they died in battle for a just cause, they leave widows and orphans — Brown Ukraine that kills, has killed, and whose hands are dripping with blood. Thank you to those French people who helped assist this young woman who is left without work and without resources with a 9 year old child.
We are in a small village of Donbass, between Gorlovka and Jdanovka. The place is grim, the roads are potholed, a Lada comes up dragging a trailer with two punctured wheels. They make a soft, strange noise because there isn’t an asphalt road in the village. The temperature is warming up and has transformed the place into a cesspool. The small houses, poor and quirky, are in a line. For all that, this is also the Donbass of the rich capital of Donetsk, with its monuments, theaters and universities — and then here this village clinging to a hillside. Only the sun of a late cold day mitigates this impression.
Natalia opens the door of her house. It is very modest. She might be 35, a simple woman. She was a waitress in her husband’s cafe in the nearby town of Jdanovka. A shop built after some hard work, a quiet life, a little boy of seven, but that was two years ago. And then the Maidan happened. Natalia said:
“I did not pay attention, we were at work, but I was nervous and my husband, who was 40 years old, was increasingly angry about what was happening in Ukraine. On top of his work, he was one of the first to participate in rallies against the Maidan. That was in February 2014 and then step by step he became increasingly active. I was scared and I told him I thought it was dangerous, he was a daddy, but he thought the most important thing was to defend our land, our freedoms. I can not say that he wasn’t right, but I was afraid for us and for him and I felt that something terrible was going to happen. “
She continues her story, I feel her emotion and also her difficulty in talking, she does not dare look at me and looks toward Yevgeny, member of the syndicate that takes care of wounded soldiers, war widows, and families of soldiers. Her husband signed up among the first in the ranks of the insurgents. Initially they had no weapons. Yevgeny says,
“We had no weapons, but in front of us, we knew that there were conscripts of the Ukrainian Army, all young, unmotivated and with no idea at all what they were doing here. Then it was not difficult to disarm many, to seize their weapons, gather everything we could find around us and this is how we started to defend ourselves. We had nothing but we had faith in our just cause and we were not afraid, we might have been, but when you know that what you are doing is just, you do not think about the danger. “
Natalia’s husband participated in the battle of Jdanovka with the local insurgents. Ukrainian forces then were settling in everywhere in the Donbass, and special battalions of neo-Nazis had no hesitation about coming in as reinforcements and the fighting became tougher day by day. The village was taken by the Ukrainians, he and his comrades then dug trenches and built up positions, they will soon retake the town.
He was killed one day in July, carried away by an artillery shell, thus leaving a widow and an orphan. Yevgeny continues, “so many of my comrades are dead, and now I have to help their families, I’ve had to tell them about the death of their son or husband or father, I saw the tears and I see now with this question: why not me too? I hope I myself will not survive this war, because all my life I will have to deal with these women and families and I always feel in their glances this question, why did I not stay with them?”
This statement is terrible, I do not know how to respond to this brave man, a former building contractor, I read in his blue eyes the pain and the convictions, for he is of course convinced that they had to defend their liberty.
We don’t part without leaving Natalia a bit of cash. It comes to 10 thousand rubles, money that the French people in my network entrusted to me before I left, telling me month after month that I deliver it where I feel it is needful. Natalia has not been receiving any aid, as her husband was killed when there was no military structure, and is not until now considered “killed on the field of honor,” one of the many unnamed victims war, a forgotten. The process is underway, but the case is long, you need witnesses, certificates, documents, and most in his volunteer unit have died.
She does not fit into any category, however, she receives precious help from the Russian Federation, a very small bit from other funds, but it is the neighbors and people like Yevgeny who help the most. Without income, with a child, without work, she survives in this place forgotten by God. Yevgeny then tells me that there are others in the Donbass … I shudder at the thought, how many are there?
When I announced the sum, Natalia collapses in tears. Yevgeny tells me that he has seen her cry twice, the day he was forced to announce the death of her husband, and today. It was not so much the money, but above all the desperate situation in which she struggles with her child, who is also ill and she refuses to let us approach him, at least for now.
I understand full well her embarrassment. As we take our leave, I have no reassuring words to say to her, so when I hold out my arms, we hug, I have no other reaction, we have but a few words for saying goodbye. How could I alleviate her pain, how could I wish her happiness. On the way back we stop. This is the grave of another volunteer, near the village of Rozovka. Another insurgent killed; his comrades made him a memorial, near the trenches where he perished.
In the village, there is another grave. The soldier rests in the middle of the village, in the central square, a fresh wreath adorns his grave, there is only a cross, not even a stone or a mound of earth. This is then, the Ukrainian assault, the men who came to bring misfortune and death to people who wanted and want to be free.