In Russia, evacuees from eastern Ukraine are staying in old Soviet-era resorts

In Russia, evacuees from eastern Ukraine are staying in old Soviet-era resorts

The Tanganrog-Mariupol highway, once a tourist route for Russians who wanted to relax in Crimea, is now only used by buses of civilians evacuated of the separatist areas of Ukraine, where there are new clashes.

Despite the fact that it is already getting dark nearby, the border post on the border between Russia and the separatists’ self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” it is full of people, from women with their children to the elderlyall of them loaded only with small bags or suitcases.

These inhabitants of the territories of the Donetsk mining area (Donbas), under the control of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, they were transferred to neighboring Russia.

In the meantime, clashes multiply along the front linewhich raises fears of a resumption of the war with Kiev that began in 2014.


The fear

Evacuees, invited to warm up in tents at the border, are redirected to sanatoriums, the resorts of the Soviet era that abound in this sunny region of southern Russia.

Others choose to join their relatives who live in Russia. According to the Russian government, more than 40,000 people have already been welcomeds on the other side of the border.

“My husband told me: Take the children and go! Their physical and psychological health is more important than anything else,” 31-year-old Anna Tikhonova told AFP.

This nurse lives in Gorlovka, right on the line of contact between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.

“When we were leaving, we heard shots”, said. “It took us almost a day to arrive. We stayed at the border for a long time,” she explained, describing a “25-kilometre queue, made up only of cars” seeking to flee to Russia.

The border post on the border between Russia and the “Donetsk People’s Republic”. Photo EFE

Anna arrived with her family to the former Soviet pioneer camp “Sputnik”on the Sea of ​​Azov, seven miles from the border, but found that the children’s recreation complex was full due to the influx of evacuees.

“They told us to come here and that we would be welcome. But we arrived and they told us: ‘Sorry, there is no room’ and to call the emergency room,” he laments.

On Friday night, the self-proclaimed breakaway “republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk called for the evacuation of civilianssaying they feared an attack by Ukrainian forces.

These accusations are rejected by Kiev and Western countries, which accuse Russia, a supporter of the separatists, of having concentrated 150,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s borders and of seeking a pretext to launch a military operation against its neighbor.


Not far from the border, the small town of Rojok, whose streets slope down to the icy shore of the Sea of ​​Azov, it’s deserted but full of cars with “Donetsk People’s Republic” license plates.

The evacuees are received in the complex “Zvezda” (“Star”), guarded by armed Russian policemen and Cossacks.

One of the complex’s new tenants, Yulia Gorbushina, 44, said she was satisfied with the living conditions, confirming that there were “a lot of people” from Ukraine.

This Donetsk resident, a housewife with two sons and a granddaughter, says that He hesitated to leave but that he was finally convinced by the rapidly deteriorating situation in recent days.

“The day I left, I was very scared. It was like in 2014”, in the worst days of the war that has already left 14,000 dead, he says.

In 2014, when the fighting with the Ukrainian forces began, the separatists had already carried out a mass evacuation of women, children and the elderly to Russia, while many towns had come under fire.

Today, the only thing that Yulia hopes is that a ceasefire will be declared again between Kiev and the separatists, so that the bombs stop falling and she can return.

“If everything stops, of course we will be happy to come back home,” he says.

AFP Agency



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