LittleHirosima: The Roads of Donbass

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Original written by Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva and posted on her littlehirosima blog; translated from Russian by J.Hawk and originally posted at South Front. September 25th, 2015

Each road is specific to time and place.
It’s literally a marker which shows what is happening. It shows the character and the daily life of a place, of a country.
Even small details tell you where you are.

Road signs, shop signs. Trees growing alongside it. Or not growing.
Are the streets wide? Are the intersections convenient? Pot-holes, bumps, bridges…
Bus stops – are they big? Abandoned? Well maintained?
In some places, for example South Africa, road signs warn against
wild animals, such as rhinos and elephants, which may cross the road.
In some places, like Europe, the roads are smooth and clean.

Donbass has its own kind of road.
Its own marker of time.

The roads have changed since I started going to the Donbass. One can understand a lot by the roads alone.
Some places have new shell holes, others have had their holes patched up, making it easier to drive.
LPR closed many of its checkpoints due the ceasefire, even if it’s an uneasy one.
The majority of signs are being repainted.
It’s a marker of self-identification.
The desire to make a clean break.
An attempt to understand oneself.

Roads by the frontline have their own specificity. The closer to Gorlovka, the fewer cars.


 
But in the “rear”, the roads are being fixed. Krasnodon, Lugansk, are full of cars, flags along the roads, greetings.

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One sees Russian tricolor flag everywhere along the roads, in various contexts:
[Photo: Russia, Novorossiya flags. Poem (very roughly) “We are all Slavic / We won’t be bought / Russians are brothers / Yankees are not”]



During the winter and early spring, people started writing various things all over bus stops:
[Photo: LPR Flag, “Do not lose heart, we will make it”]



The signs of war are nearly everywhere:
Although the burned out tanks and bmps have been removed, the war has burned itself into this land.


 
Bunkers, sandbags, trenches–that’s all real life, not in a movie:



One can’t get used to the empty advertising billboards on the Donbass.
There are no ads, so you see the empty iron sheets with paper shreds.
This is Gorlovka, where the shooting stopped only a week and a half ago. Although even that is relative…
Half the population left and is still afraid to return.

One can see burned out gas stations in many parts of the Donbass. Iron bars and rods, hanging uselessly.



The whole of Donbass is covered by checkpoints, which can’t be photographed.
I remember the Lugansk-Pervomaysk road during the winter, with some 8
or 9 checkpoints. Had to stop at each one, show documents, answer
questions. Now everything is different, only one checkpoint along the
way.
DPR is different, still. The fighting is still going on there, therefore the checkpoints are unavoidable.


 
Everything is changing, and the road, the path is changing too.
May the Donbass road be covered with colorful flags, billboards
advertising childrens’ diapers, and roadside cafes, even if they serve
expired and tasteless food.
 
PS. If you want contribute to humanitarian assistance to the people of the Donbass, contact me in person through my livejournal account, through Facebook, or via email: [email protected] [Paypal donations can be made to the same [email protected] address]. Everything will be delivered and reported.

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