Vlad. 'Donbas people may be different'

Vlad is a displaced person coming from eastern Ukraine. He sincerely believes that each person should be responsible for his or her life no matter where a person comes from. Vlad has come from Donbas and he himself had to build the new life in the new environment.

We continue to publish the stories of people, who lost their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as of those, who lent a helping hand in difficult times.

I'm from Yenakiyevo… #I try not to show off where have I come from. I feel ashamed to speak about this in relation to all the events that are taking place. Even when you rent apartment, it is very unpleasant to hear how much “Donbas people” have come. There are different sorts of “Donbas people.”

I have almost nothing in common with Yenakiyevo, I have walked off from this city so far that I have erased a lot of emotional memories. As for Luhansk, there are some fresh moments, landmark, interesting, romantic moments, but I #link them rather to people, not the city. However, I am gradually erasing the emotional memories about Luhansk as well as I was there long time ago and I would not live there most likely.

When it all started, it developed in a very strange and very stupid manner. It seemed to me a foolish fairy tale, normal people should not have believed in that and joined that. When people screamed that everything was bad and that we had to protect our people from some strangers when the Luhansk department of the Ukraine’s Security Service was seized, weapons were stolen, and people were walking along the city with the guns, I perceived that as some kind of gangster movies, because I had never imagined such a situation in real life, everything had always been quiet. I thought that it may affect me, that I could become insane too. Why did I experience that fear? Because I realized that the people, whom I had talk to during the two years of studies, thought in a totally different way when it all started. I could not understand them any longer. I felt as if I had been in an out-of-the-world place, where nobody hear and understand me and everything has changed around me. #I thought that either I started to change or everybody around started to change.

If I had not left, I would have had no opportunity to travel somewhere now and in future. These forced circumstances gave me opportunity to travel across Ukraine. Summer and autumn outside Donbas, the area where I was born and grew up, I visited a lot of places, met a lot of people. For me, that was #a good opportunity to leave the settled place and start a new life.

I had the chance to participate in the LGBT conference in Kyiv. I was invited as a participant, so I went to buy tickets on the same day. The parents tried to dissuade me, saying it would be dangerous to go somewhere and it would be safer to stay in Yenakiyevo. When I left, I was scared. We drove through the checkpoint and saw the sandbags, people in camouflage with machine guns and assault rifles who might ask us to leave any moment if they did not like something. During the conference, it turned out that #there was a shelter for LGBT IDPs from Crimea and Donbas in Kyiv. And I took the opportunity. At first, when I told my parents that I was not going home and stayed in Kyiv, they were shocked, but the next day, when they realized that here I would be safer, they said to stay in Kyiv.

I have a double feeling when I call my parents and they tell me that a shell slammed into the house of my uncle today, blowing up a half of nine-storey building. They were not injured, they moved to my grandfather, but all the windows in their apartment were broken as a result of explosion. I have a double feeling about that, because this is my family, whom I know very well and I feel very sorry for them, but, on the other hand, I can not help them. On the other hand, I am not there, I am not affected, I'm not involved, and I feel indifference. And it's scary because it's my family, which I have to worry about. I worry about them and I ‘m indifferent too, like most of the population of Ukraine. This #indifference appeared because there is a distance. And what happens there ... Well, there is war in Iraq too, but we don’t care as we are safe.

Last semester, I studies here as a student who had been admitted temporarily. I do not know whom I should thank, but personally I have written five letters to the education minister. I went to the Education Ministry almost every day and demanded that something was decided with this issue, as the studies had to start in a week and a half, and no one knew what we should have done as we could not return and we wanted to study. Finally the decree was issued that we were temporarily admitted. #Now I'm a student officially, but I am not paid educational scholarship, I am not given a room in a hostel, I am given nothing. In the near future I'm going to visit the Education Ministry again. It is a little bit annoying already, because neither the Ministry nor the State apply any effort to help students who were forced to leave the place of study and place of residence.

As for help from the other people, I think they should not do that. If they have such a possibility and they want to help, their assistance should be not in form of money or something large-scale. It should be a tiny help. #Even the emotional support or positive mood help. People, who come from the ATO area​​ and Crimea should understand that they are not guilty of what has happened. I think they are not guilty in a greater degree. However, they have to get used to the fact that nobody will do anything instead of them. They should pull themselves together and change themselves.

The story of Vlad is presented within the framework of the exhibition "My Place", organized by the Educational Centre "Space of Tolerance" and the Congress of National Communities, supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The authors of the texts are Kyra Kreyderman and Uljana Ustinova. The exhibition’s design and the photos are made by Dana Verstak, some photos were taken from the family archives.

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