war crimes in Ukraine

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‘My brother was blown up by a tripwire mine. We don't know anything about his fate’

23.04.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Taras Viichuk, Oleksandr Viichuk
Meshcheriakova Tetiana was evacuated from the village of Seredne to Kramatorsk, to her mother. “Once it hit so hard that it blew out the windows, and then it hit again… Then we decided not to tempt fate and evacuate to Lviv,” — says Tetiana.

I am Meshcheriakova Tetiana Nikolaevna, born in the city of Sloviansk. I grew up there. Then the parents moved to the city of Liman, to the village of Seredne. Our town is at the crossroads of three regions: Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Lugansk.

How did the events of 2014 develop in your region?

We heard that the war was going on; my mother had just left for Sloviansk, then she was evacuated to Donetsk and later to Russia. But, personally, we did not see the war because we were in the village. Well, helicopters were flying. But it was different from what it is now, of course.

How did the 2022 war burst into your life?

We watched the news. My brother and husband are not into politics and said it would not reach us. If anything happens, then in Liman or Sviatohirsk. On the 24th, I got the children ready for school. I didn’t turn on the TV because I didn’t have time. I fed the children and got them ready, but our school bus was missing. I called a neighbor and asked: “Olya. Will there be a school bus today?” She answered: “Didn’t you watch the news?” — “I haven’t turned on the TV yet.” — “The war has started, don’t send your children anywhere.”

How did you evacuate from your village?

We’ve been there for two weeks. There were alarms and sirens, and we descended into the basement. We took warm clothes and water there. My daughter, who studied in Kramatorsk, told me: “Mom, there will be no evacuation from the villages, so we have to get out on our own and go to Kramatorsk.” Her husband was in Terroborone [Territorial Defence Force], and he warned there would be no evacuation from the villages. So we walked 4 kilometers to the railway station with the children and reached Kramatorsk.

The consequences of the shelling of Kramatorsk, February 1, 2023, photo: Donetsk Regional State Administration

Once, they hit [in Kramatorsk] so hard that my mother’s glass in the hall was broken. And one more time, so the house was moving. There were cracks in the walls. We didn’t tempt fate after that. We packed up and boarded the evacuation train, and came to Lviv. A military convoy was driving towards us, and later they called me and said that bridges had been blown up that night.

Have any of your loved ones been affected by the hostilities?

My brother was blown up by a tripwire mine. We don’t know if he is alive or not. He was taken away when Russian troops were stationed there. We still don’t know anything about him. He was out with our dog. And she caught a wire. They were together with a friend; they went to the village for food. People brought food and traded since the shops were no longer open. And they went for groceries. The dog caught the wire, and they got what they got.

They say the man with him only injured his leg, but I don’t know what happened to my brother. They say he was seriously wounded in the head and taken to Svatovo, but no one knows the details — no phone connection and we couldn’t get through. The man said a tank or rocket launcher was in front of our house — I am not sure what. And that man had a concussion twice. They say that the buildings were shot through with bullets. The windows were all smashed.

Are there any problems with access to food in the village now?

No, we called some people this morning and learned they are bringing humanitarian aid to the village council from Shandrygol. We have a small village — Seredne. Now there are 11 people left. And the soldiers live in the houses. Those with their cars go to the village council, bring humanitarian aid and distribute it. They said there was an impossible situation: on one day, it was possible to buy food for Ukrainian hryvnia, and on the other — for Russian rubles. There was no phone connection during the occupation, so I know nothing specific.

Was it possible to receive medical care during the occupation?

They say that when our brother [Slavik] was in trouble, they ran, looking for a car but barely found it. There was a hospital in Shandrygol, but they had to find bandages in their stocks. He was injected with two ampoules of Novocain, loaded into a military vehicle, and taken somewhere. Nobody explained anything. They said if he dies, we will bring him back to you. And still no one knows anything.

Meshcheriakova Tetiana, Seredne village

What do you know about the destruction of civilian objects?

As far as I know, my sister does not have a home. There is no mother’s house either. There is no school, no village council. The phone connection just appeared in September, I called Vika’s mother-in-law, and she said: “Oh, God, I don’t know what’s going on, it’s burning from all sides, flying from all sides, and I don’t even know what’s going on.”

Where did people hide during the shelling?

They hid in the cellars. My eldest daughter was there when I was getting ready to leave. They sat, prayed, and remembered all the prayers that we knew. Then, maybe two hundred meters from them, a bomb exploded or a rocket. She said the house was destroyed. There were also shellings in Shandrygol, a woman died, and another 5-7 people were injured by shrapnel. My husband’s mother was also injured. She is now in Kropyvnytskуi. She was immediately taken to a hospital in Kramatorsk, where she received treatment. She said: “I left the cellar, and a fragment flew into my chest.”

Do you plan to go back home after the war?

There is such a dream, but I do not know. I don’t know anything yet, because of the children. I, maybe, would have gone, but the children ... Also, there is the education of the middle daughter. And the youngest is learning. The eldest gave birth to a child, so I can’t tell you anything specific right now.

The article was prepared by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group with the support of the "People in Need"
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