“Are we fighting for territory, or for the people who live in that territory?”

 

International

By Jeffrey Stephaniuk

Television journalist Nastya Stanko posted on Facebook on September 7, 2014 her reflections about an emotional few weeks in Donbas and other parts of Ukraine.

“I had been invited to give a presentation in Odesa a few days ago. I showed some of my work that had been done before the war. One piece featured Battalion Aidar before they had been committed into battle to liberate Ukrainian cities. I hadn’t watched it for some time,” she writes.

It became quite a powerful experience “watching it again that day with this audience… So many individuals featured in the report are no longer alive, and of those who are, most of them have been wounded.

“When I made this observation, I could hear someone in the room begin to sob. I begged them to stop crying, saying there really was no need to cry, or rather, although I myself felt that way sometimes, it was best to put one’s efforts into something else.

“As some will recall, this video is about a father and son, the Kosolapov family. I haven’t mentioned them for quite some time. They are a very typical family through whom one can learn about the fate of so many other families from Donbas and what these people are experiencing.

“Very recently I have been travelling throughout Donbas as well as the southern regions near the border, near the illegal republic and the territory that has been temporarily occupied. Additionally, these are places to which large numbers of refugees have arrived.

“As might be expected, there are lots of complaints about the refugees. Typically, one hears, ‘my child doesn’t have a spot at daycare because of them;’ ‘my wife has fewer hours at work because of them;’ ‘my friends told me that their neighbours had to give up their apartment because of them;’ and ‘most of their men are fighting against us.’”

Stanko uses this description as an introduction to the point she wants to make about the Kosolapov family as an “everyman” Donbas family:

“The Kosolapov family is from the town of Schastia. It was one of the places controlled by the separatists. For this reason, Volodia Kosolapov decided to relocate his family, his wife along with their three children, and also his sister with her son. Then he joined Aidar together with his father.

“On 12 June Aidar liberated Schastia. However, in July, near the town of Lutuhino, Oleksandr Kosolapov suffered wounds to his feet and stomach. He was evacuated to a hospital in Lviv, where he currently remains and is recovering. He has been transferred to rehabilitation, and he will walk again, although it will take time.

“Just last week the Russian army began its bombardment of Schastia. Volodia managed to rescue the last of his relatives, his grandparents. He returned to Schastia and remains with Battalion Aidar.

“So now the question becomes, what has happened to Volodia’s wife? Their son is very sick. And Volodia’s sister? As it turns out, she divorced her husband when it was disovered that he believed in different values than she did, and you can guess who his sympathies were with.

“These two women now live with the four children at a former tourist resort near Odesa, where there are also many other refugees. Soon the weather will be getting colder.

“I’m not sure what you know about refugees, but they all share common experiences. The bottom line is this: are we fighting for territory or for the people who live in that territory? Do we desire to be a united country, helping them, understanding them? Or do we want to take the easy way out and simply exile them from our common life as a Ukrainian society?

“This is my reply to all the criticism: Yes, your child did not enrol in pre-school this year. But someone else’s child did have that chance, someone who is far away from home, someone who is so traumatized that even now they still re-live inside of themselves the memory of the mortars, the sound of the hrad.”

Nastya Stanko’s presentation in Odesa led to an interview with Volodia’s sister. “It so happened that I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with this family. But I am well aware that they are a very typical (Donbas) family.”

Source: Nastya Stanko’s FB

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