Eight and a half years of life in occupied Donetsk left an imprint on the mind of every person residing here. The latest six months have been especially traumatic. After all, as it turned out, there are no safe areas in the city anymore. If since 2014 only the outskirts have been shelled, now there is not a single street where the windows would not have been shattered.
It is really scary to go outside. Nowadays, the residents of Donetsk can be compared to frightened animals that hide in their burrows and do not leave them without necessity. Although, as it turns out, staying at home is also dangerous. The ratio of deaths on the street and inside houses or apartments is approximately the same.
There have been no passers-by slowly strolling through parks or boulevards since summer. And in recent weeks, there have definitely been more people in camouflage than ordinary civilians on the streets.
It seems that even the most persistent and stoic ones cannot cope with the stress anymore. Farewell wishes for peace and excuses for leaving are increasingly appearing on social media. Those posts are coming from the ones who stayed in 2014 "because I love my city and I won't leave it". But, apparently, time forces to change the principles.
It is typical that many "supporters of the russian world" leave not for rostov or moscow, but for the EU countries. And they receive temporary protection status and refugee social benefits somewhere in Germany or France. Without any remorse.
Across the European border, they continue to love the "russian world" and are waiting for "our victory". After watching the news feed from Donetsk, they admire the well-coordinated work of communal services, which quickly repair the damage and clean up the surrounding area after each shelling. They dedicate special laudatory odes to specialists from the russian federation who came to help rebuild the city after the destruction. Like, they set an example of real fraternal relations.
The Donetsk residents, who remained in the city, also pick up this topic because they see the repair equipment and water trucks with russian license plates in their yards. This event was preceded by an April PR campaign, during which the people of the long-suffering Donbas were promised that the russian brothers would not leave them without support and that "there will be a garden city here". In the spirit of old Soviet traditions, russia declared that it took patronage over the occupied cities. Of course, it was initiated by the leader of the "most peaceful" people - putin.
All local and russian media wrote that every "DNR" city and town was assigned to regions of the russian federation that are considered economically successful and have great construction, industrial and financial potential.
They also wrote that the russian government even created a special headquarters dealing with the restoration of the "liberated" territories of the "DNR" and "LNR". Specialists must rebuild destroyed housing, roads, bridges, factories and social infrastructure facilities.
It is curious that the document on the procedure for the "DNR" and "LNR" restoration by the russian regions signed by putin was never published.
First deputy head of the kremlin administration Kiriyenko, who oversees the Donbas, also did not specify at what expense the restoration would be carried out.
Soon after, a mishap occurred, when putin’s press secretary peskov told the Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper that putin did not instruct the regions to take patronage over the Donbas regions. "There were no documents on this matter, but by and large, they are not needed. The regions, at their own discretion, can independently take other regions under their patronage, including the regions of Donbas", - he said bluntly. That is, when they want to, they begin to help, and when they do not feel like it, they may stop helping...
Regional media report that 30 regions of russia are participating in the restoration of the infrastructure of the Donbas. Kuzbass helps Horlivka, nizhny novgorod region helps Khartsyzk. Specialists from st. petersburg came to restore Mariupol, whereas moscow took patronage over Donetsk. Russians are repairing kindergartens, schools and residential buildings. They even began to restore the fountain near the circus despite the cold and icy wind.
The Donetsk residents, stressed out by shelling, witness the help of the "bosses" and are in awe. You can often hear: "For 30 years in Ukraine, our house’s entrance has never been renovated, but the muscovites came and did it" or "The basement pipes have been replaced recently, even though we had been asking Ukrainian housing office to do this for a long time even before the war".
I think many have heard about the "white Kamaz trucks" that brought humanitarian aid from russia in 2014-2021. But few people know that a monument was erected in Ilovaisk in 2016 - a white Kamaz was placed on a pedestal in gratitude to the russian ministry of emergency situations. Now Donetsk residents look at the orange special equipment with enthusiasm. Because both water trucks and repair vehicles from russia are orange.
Most of the local gossip centers on new houses that have been being built in Mariupol since the beginning of summer. It seems that some of them are already inhabited. It is felt that some Donetsk residents are even slightly envious. Like, they demolished the old high-rise buildings and now they are building new, modern ones. Wish it were like this here... Hearing something like that, I want to shout: "Hey! Don't you understand what is going on? Don't you remember why these houses are being demolished in the first place? Don't you know how many people died under their rubble?"
It turns out they do not want to remember that. Just like they do not want to remember that until 2014, Donetsk was culturally and economically developing, and new residential areas had been being built here. Beautiful, modern and comfortable ones. Unlike what is now being built in Mariupol.
I wouldn't be surprised if these houses fall apart in three to five years. Because russian specialists are actually able to make a silk purse of a sow's ear. As recent events have shown, they cannot create new things, however, they have learned to give an external gloss well. They paste plastic cladding on the old walls without caring that the insides were rotten. Like, that will do for now and the rest will be repaired someday soon as well. As it turned out, there are a great many of these repair teams in "mother russia".
But for some reason, people do not want to see the obvious and realize that if it were not for the war unleashed by russia, the planned demolition of old houses would begin in Donetsk after some time. And even if not as fast as we would like it to be, but people could move to new buildings. Alive people. And people without psychological disorders caused by war. Those who would not thank for the candy after they were beaten up.
Unfortunately, many Donetsk residents can easily be diagnosed with the Stockholm syndrome. This is a psychological response wherein a victim develops positive feelings towards an aggressor. This is why monuments to "white Kamaz trucks" appear here alongside immense gratitude to orange trucks that bring dirty technical water to people who have already begun to forget that both cold and hot water used to flow from the tap.
Lusia Molchanova, Donetsk, OstroV