“We have no electricity, no Internet, no telephone network, no TV. We got used to it!”, explains Lubov who, despite the circumstances, never stops smiling. She is wearing her multicolored summer dress and a pretty hat in which a shrapnel is still stuck. Lubov lives in the village of Vremivka in Donetsk Oblast.
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For more than a year, he remained in a gray zone, neither in Ukrainian territory nor in Russian territory, but between the two, under the crossfire of the two armies. Few civilians remained in Vremivka. The area was recaptured by Kyiv forces last June, but living conditions there remain extremely precarious.
Three houses still standing
Of the 11 windows in the home of Lubov and her husband, only three remained intact. All the others are covered with an assembly of plastic sheeting. The shells continue to fall, but a little further, more in the courtyard. The roof is also patched. “These are splinters. After each strike, we repaired the roof. Here we had trees, but with the explosion in the yard, they disappeared”describes Viktor, 71 years old.
Viktor and Lubov don’t lack money, but they never wanted to leave. Yet, at the height of the war, the shelling was incessant, according to Viktor: “It was Armageddon”. They are not sure if these bombings were Russian or Ukrainian, but the important thing, even in this corner of Ukraine where some feel close to Russia, was to take care of all the inhabitants of the village. “I was cycling back and forth on my bike and bringing back provisions for everyone, whether it was bombing or not”assures Lubov.
“People who stayed became more united, believes Victor. They help each other more, they are more human. Those who left… They won’t understand us. Because we, every day, struggle to survive.” A few months ago, the couple had to bury Lubov’s 92-year-old mother on the strip of land in front of the house. “We buried her here, because at the cemetery, we were told that it was not possible, that it was mined. In addition, it is high up, it can be bombarded”, he adds. The couple has only one wish: to celebrate their golden wedding, in three years, and die together, of old age say the spouses, not of war.
Ukraine: the report by Isabelle Labeyrie and Gilles Gallinaro in Vremivka