A big portrait of Marina Grigorievna is one of the memorials that remind us of the war victims. What do other memorials look like?
The mural portraying Marina Grigorievna is one of the most famous remainders of the war in the Eastern Ukraine. In the centre of Avdeevka, there is a humble memorial assembled from shells and grenade fragments that hit the town. A few faded photos of those who lost their lives during shelling of the town.
Humble Ukrainian memorials are in stark contrast with those of the Soviet times. Next to the cultural centre in the outskirts of Avdeevka, there is a huge plane fighter with names written down on granite boards underneath that remind us of fallen soldiers of the Red Army. That corresponds with the idea of the Soviet Union after all; a huge empire needed to demonstrate its size through monumental memorials of its victories in WW II.
When one approaches the front line, there are a few flags of the Ukrainian troops along the road before the last crossing point. These are reminders of those who died when defending Avdeevka and particularly Promka, a strategic hill above the town. Below the flags, there is a van wreck riddled with bullets. Grenade fragments and spent cartridges are neatly assembled in the sand below. Portraits of fallen soldiers are sometimes only a few months old. Here the war is not over yet.
Why did Viktor have to leave his house to fetch water? And what is the situation like with electricity and heating?
Viktor was wounded while queuing for water. In war zones, some of the basic products and services, such as water, gas or electricity are often inaccessible. The situation often does not get better even when heavy fights stop. There is running water again in Avdeevka and the local coking plant supplies heating to the town during the winter. However, in the surrounding villages, the situation is still hopeless. The fire has destroyed local wells and damaged pumps. Therefore, some humanitarian organizations import the most basic commodity – drinking water – in plastic barrels.
The situation does not get better even in winter because there is neither firewood, nor coal available. The front line has cut off the supplies of coal that used to be so common in Donbass that it became the symbol of the region. Now it is inaccessible. Some of the neighbouring woods might be save in terms of mines, but the firewood there has all been collected.
How many people were wounded as Viktor? And how many died in the war?
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, around 13 000 people died in the Ukraine since the beginning of the war, and a quarter of them were civilians. Another 30 000 have been wounded. However, these are just estimations because there are no reliable statistics on the separatists’ side. Passengers from the flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia that was shot down in the Eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014 were also included in the number of civilian victims.
There is decrease in number of wounded or killed civilians in the Donbass area each year; still, it does not mean that nobody dies in the continuing war. It is estimated that clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance would last around 15 years after the conflict is over.