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Front line city in Ukraine only wants “peace and silence”

#Front #line #city #Ukraine #peace #silence

Little is left of Soledar. A church, a few grocery stores and a hardware store in a basement.

The mining town in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, which is located directly on the frontline and is still home to several thousand people, has been under continuous shelling for more than three months.

Terrible sounds of explosions periodically break the stillness in the now spooky town, whose name translates to ‘the gift of salt’ after a huge salt mine on the outskirts.

The mine, managed by Ukrainian company Artemsol, typically produces millions of tons a year and is also a tourist attraction known for its “fairytale salt sculptures,” according to prospectuses.

Soledar, which had 15,000 inhabitants before the war, is also known for an underground sanatorium for the treatment of lung diseases.

That was before the invasion.

Soldar was in the path of Russian troops pushing to take over the Donetsk region and came under fire from both sides.

The multiple hit mine is now closed.

Many residents have fled. According to the remaining residents, only around 2,000 people are on their own.

The houses along the main street are half destroyed or blackened with smoke.

The cultural center is destroyed and its ruins still smell of smoke. Papers can be seen strewn about the ruins and a telephone receiver lies on a desk.

“It happened on the night of July 9th/10th. That night, a dozen rockets hit Soledar,” said Tetyana, a woman walking by with her five-year-old daughter and 67-year-old mother.

The center burned for several days without firefighters being able to put out the flames.

“There are no more local authorities, no police, no doctors, no pharmacy. Everyone has gone. We were abandoned,” Tetyana said.

– ‘I can’t leave her’ –

Like an apparition, an elegant woman with short white hair walks along a deserted street with five cats.

Smiling but scared, Lyudmyla explained that her husband was disabled and could not move.

“And then there are the abandoned cats. I can’t leave her alone,” says the former teacher, walking towards one of the few grocery stores that are still open.

The store is supplied by volunteers who come twice a week and brave shelling and rocket attacks.

Below the store, in the basement, is a large hardware store that has become a relatively safe meeting place for the town’s residents.

Residents come to buy gas bottles, nails, dishes and bedding. It’s one of the few places where neighbors can chat.

Yuri, the 59-year-old shopkeeper with a long gray ponytail, baseball cap, and overalls, leans on his walking stick behind the counter.

Despite everything, his eyes still sparkle.

“If I let myself be depressed, it’s not good for my old bones,” he said.

But his eyes darken as he talks about his two grandchildren, aged eight and twelve, who still live in Soledar.

What are they doing with their days? “You create stress,” sighed the grandfather.

He said he was employing them to build a heating unit with zinc plates “to prepare for the winter.”

– ‘We are not separatists!’ –

As in all cities on the frontline of eastern Ukraine, those who remain cannot or do not want to evacuate.

“We just want to stay where we live. We are not Separatists! Write that down – we are not separatists!” Larysa, a former bank teller, leans from her balcony.

Regional authorities regularly urge people to evacuate, and those who remain are often seen as having pro-Moscow views and awaiting the arrival of Russian troops.

Liya Cherkashyna, 84, sits in front of her house and doesn’t give a damn about either side — she just wants someone to fill her five bottles of water from the city’s one working pump.

Yesterday someone promised to bring her water in exchange for a bottle of vodka that she doesn’t have.

From her balcony, Larysa said, “We only want peace. And silence.”

Social Tags:
#Front #line #city #Ukraine #peace #silence

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