We were only able to relax and breathe while waiting for our flight from Tbilisi to Tel Aviv. It was already possible to talk normally there. In Donetsk, where we spent 5 or 6 days, the posters hung everywhere: “In case of detection of suspicious persons, conversations, etc., call the MGB hotline.” In the hostel where we were placed, were the DPR officers. In order to talk, my mother and I used to go out to the embankment or we would whisper with the TV on.
From Mineralnye Vody we flew to Alatau in Kazakhstan, then to Tbilisi and then to Tel Aviv. We landed in Israel on the evening of April 15, the eve of Pesach. It was a true Exodus.
Mom is still dealing with the consequences of the blast injury. A fragment of a mine hit her head, there was a large hematoma, and her ears were bleeding for several days. She still has seizures.
Emotionally, it's hard, too. There are people who chose to stay in Ukraine, protect it, volunteer, and we are far away and there is nothing we can do. Because we need help ourselves. We went with just two backpacks and two shopping bags, in what we were wearing, so to speak.
In the Russian field kitchen, they gave out swill. Even pigs aren’t fed like that
The apartment that I rented in the center of Mariupol was destroyed, and my parent's apartment also burned down. We have nothing left in Mariupol, and there is nothing left of Mariupol. 95% of the city is simply destroyed. And this was done neither by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, nor by Azov, but by the Russian army.
There were some who rejoiced: look, your great Ukrainian army abandoned you. But there were those whose eyes opened. But now, for a piece of bread and some water, they will support anything. Near Prospekt Mira, 105, there was a field kitchen. They gave out swill there – even pigs are fed better. And the bread was just lying scattered on the floor in the garage expropriated by the DPR: loaves covered with a dirty tarp. When you asked for a loaf, they would cut off a chunk and throw it to you: take and be grateful. But people stood in lines waiting for these scraps. This is the worst.
They put on a show that they were doing us a favor: that they “rescued” and “liberated” us. Like, you lived under the Nazis, now it’s hard, but soon you will get electricity, gas, water again. But when they started to reconstruct it all, everything began to burn and flood. Friends, who get in touch sometimes, told us. A short circuit would occur in a house, and it burns again. The bodies, barely dug in, began to emerge – floating like along the Ganges.
And people swallow it because they have no strength to fight. They feel that they have been abandoned, and in this situation, no matter how bad it sounds, they will support the aggressor. They are afraid of de-occupation, because they do not want to experience it all over again. But there is not a single yard in Mariupol where at least one corpse was not buried.
In Israel, people shout after me: “benderovite”, “fascist”, “Uke”
I have not been in contact with my friends from Russia since 2014. The war began exactly then, with the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of part of Donbass. But in Ukraine, I have never heard so many insults from the Russian Jews like here, at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv.
After our flight, a plane came from Russia. I wear yellow and blue ribbons on my backpack and clothes of Ukrainian brands, I occasionally speak Ukrainian. And I hear after me: "benderovite", "fascist", "Uke".
While we were staying in the hotel, we went through the consular check and all the bureaucratic procedures. The Russians stood in line with us. At first they apologized, like: I'm sorry that I'm Russian. And I asked this girl from Moscow, why did you leave?
“You know, we had it worse than you did”.
“Worse than what?”
“Well, worse than in Ukraine.”
“Worse than in Mariupol? Let me show you my house. If this is worse than in Moscow, then what is happening in Moscow?”
Another one said, you will later be grateful to Putin for what he did to you. I was just dumbfounded.
“Why did you leave, then?”
“We are victims of the regime.”
It came to scandals, cries of “Glory to Russia!” and so on. It is so strange when you are Jewish and everyone around you is too, but they tell you that you are a Nazi, a fascist, and so on, and since you are from Ukraine, then you are definitely a “benderovite”.
Mariupol is now a living hell. But those who make it out of there are not always welcomed with open arms.
On the other hand, we are living in an area where there are many pro-Ukrainian neighbors; yellow and blue flags are around, and the atmosphere is generally nice. And ordinary people helped so much: they gave us everything, from spoons to mattresses and beds. And they were complete strangers to us. It is a great blessing that there are such people, and there are many of them.