Mr. Dmitri’s family from the Kherson region arrived in Zaporizhia four days ago. They brought a month old baby with them.
We packed up and left, describes Dmitri, who fled with his family from the Kherson region to Zaporozhye. Listen to Martin Dorázin’s report
“Especially the last few days have been really hard – a lot of shelling. I get it. I know that ours are advancing, liberating the city. It’s nothing to do. There are few of us left, everyone is trying to leave as quickly as possible. We left the family home there as it was. We packed up and left,” Dmitrij explains for Radiožurnál.
Dmitry had a good business in the Kherson region. He is a trained locksmith and auto mechanic, which helped him because the Russian occupiers also needed such professionals.
“They treated me normally. Some came to me to fix their car that they had stolen before and needed to fix things like brakes. I had no choice. What was I supposed to do when they came with guns? For me, my children were the most important,” he explains.
Coexistence with the occupiers was an art of diplomacy, it follows from the words of Mr. Dmitri. “I tried not to get involved with them, so as not to get into any unpleasant situations. As everywhere – people are different. I asked them why they actually came to us. They replied: ‘This is ours, this is our home and we will stay here.’ I didn’t say anything about it. There’s no point in arguing with those people, especially when you’re alone and there are four of them with machine guns.’
Dmitri’s village near Kherson was occupied not by Buryats or Tuvans, but by Russians and Chechens who behaved somewhat normally. The worst were the militants from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.
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“They were very cruel. They called me to come to them and bring the car and the papers. They looked at the engine, liked the car and told me they would take it. Four guys with machine guns took me to the forest with their car. But I was lucky that they were drunk and there were Chechens driving by who thought it was suspicious. I complained to them that drunken men took my car and papers, that they were threatening me, and I added that I have three small children. They helped me,” Dmitry recalls.
“I don’t know what would have happened to me if they hadn’t helped me. That was the last straw. The next day we packed up and left. We pray every day for your return. It’s good at home,” he adds.
Replacement housing is a problem in Zaporizhia due to the influx of refugees. But Dmitriy is lucky that he was offered help by acquaintances in a village about 40 kilometers from Zaporizhia, and is therefore not dependent on hostels for refugees.
For the time being, his neighbors will take care of the house in the Kherson region and the farm – all the dogs, cats, chickens and parrots. But every day the whole family prays that they can return home.
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