What it’s like for a refugee from the east in Western Ukraine

Village in Ukraine 


Article by: pauluskp

They ask me whether it is difficult for a migrant from Donetsk to live in a village in Western Ukraine. Of course, it’s difficult. Let me explain and demonstrate.


Milk, smetana (sour cream) and salo (lard)

This is milk, smetana (sour cream) and salo (lard).

The milk just came from the cow, the sour cream has just the right amount of fat. Neighbors bring it for almost nothing. It is very difficult for me, as a city-dweller, to consume sour cream, milk and sour milk in such amounts.

I don’t eat pork, but it’s no challenge for me to find salo for a photo, it is always around here somewhere. They say it’s good salo.

Honey Barrel

Honey Barrel

This is a honey barrel.


Sometimes you walk by, sigh, open it, and…


Bread and Honey

Bread and Honey

Of course, it’s difficult: but what to do? An unopened barrel stands nearby.


Potato Field

Potato Field

This is a field, from which they’d just removed the potatoes, but there is a ton of them still left on the surface, nobody would pick them, so the city-dwellers can walk by and take it – gratis. Well, if they are unable to pay 1,30 UAH per kilo with delivery.


These are chickens, they provide us with fresh eggs absolutely free of charge on a daily basis. Feeding the chickens costs practically nothing in the village.



It is very difficult to eat so many eggs, so the chickens are constantly multiplying. I don’t eat chicken, but some people might be interested.


These are apples.

Apples Ukraine

Apples Ukraine

It is completely impossible to eat so much fruit, just like it’s impossible to process and sell them. Here, they are just used for compost.

Apples Ukraine

Apples Ukraine


This is grain. A useful thing in the village.

Grain Ukraine

Grain Ukraine


A truckload of firewood costs 500 UAH here, and, as they say, it’s enough for the winter. But the esthetics can have gas.

Water comes from wells.

I can go on and on in the same key.

The bad things: the toilet is outside and the situation with the internet is more difficult – but everyone who wants it, has it. Perhaps not as fast as the cities, but you can even watch movies.

In Luhansk people are enlisting as mercenaries for food; they defecate in trenches which were dug especially for this purpose in many courtyards in residential areas. What little food there is is cooked on fires. Luhansk has no communication, no water, sparse electricity, no security…

But in the villages the food is almost free and there are houses standing empty.

Like many other migrants, I no longer have a permanent job: there are more than enough journalists in Ukraine for a mid-sized country, and I fear that soon they will start burning them at special plants. Seriously, this is my fear. I have no money to rent an apartment even in a relatively inexpensive city like Kyiv, and definitely not in an expensive metropolis like the capital of Dnipropetrovsk Republic or Mariupol, where real estate prices have jumped sky-high because of the war.

I am not asking the state for help; the state has enough problems. It is easy to find everything necessary for life in the village and to live on a shoestring.

Of course if I do find interesting and productive work I can live in the city, but for me the village is better in all regards.

The villagers have a healthy psyche, they are not fanatics, not vatniki. Though many of them have the Ukrainian anthem as their cell ringtone and hate the Russian invaders, in Western Ukraine nobody said a word to me about my speaking Russian, and I practically always speak Russian except when I want to practice my Ukrainian.

In our village several people are fighting in Donbas as everyone was summoned for service with the pro-Russians; not volunteers, mainly those who are older and those who have already served. Nobody here has complained to those of us who are Donetsk citizens: why aren’t you fighting? The people understand that if the summons comes, even Donetsk citizens will go to war. We are not given a choice.

Pseudo-patriotic hysteria on Facebook is a product of sick city-dwellers and even sicker propagandists, in my view.

In general, to the Donetsk office workers, journalists, other professionals and particularly teachers who lost their jobs because of the war, I recommend finding a village that would suit their taste and work at a village school. By my observations, the best villages, with roads, gas, normal kindergartens and schools are in Western Ukraine.

Cover Photo: englishrussia.com


Salo at Wikipedia

Vatnik, Vatniki: Russian patriotic redneck

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Edited by: R. White
Source: Cover Photo
Source: pauluskp

Since you’re here – we have a favor to ask. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is ongoing, but major news agencies have gone away. But we’re here to stay, and will keep on providing quality, independent, open-access information on Ukrainian reforms, Russia’s hybrid war, human rights violations, political prisoners, Ukrainian history, and more. We are a non-profit, don’t have any political sponsors, and never will. If you like what you see, please help keep us online with a donation!

Tags: ,