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Photo report: disengagement of troops in Zolote-4 & “grey zone” in Katerynivka, Luhansk Oblast

All roads leading to and from Zolote-4 are blocked by armed police patrols that are on 24/7 guard duty. We were not allowed to travel by car. So, we set out on foot…
Photo report: disengagement of troops in Zolote-4 & “grey zone” in Katerynivka, Luhansk Oblast

We visited the village of Zolote-4 and the village of Katerynivka. There’s an atmosphere of total distrust among the villagers. Some are for, others are against. But, everyone is scared. They are scared of one other, the police, the military, the media, the gray zone and the fact that “those guys will come here”.

Most of the people we spoke to were inadequately informed by the authorities about events directly related to their present and future, and to their actual physical existence.

Photo report by Andriy Dubchak, with Marian Kushnir, October 31, 2019

(description under each photo)

The Rodina mine is situated in the village of Zolote, but it is not operating. Nearby are the Zolote and Karbonid mines, the only place of employment for locals
Today, 526 people live in the village. Before the war, they say that there were over a thousand inhabitants
Many soldiers, National Guardsmen and police patrol the streets. One of the reasons is the presence of war veterans here in Zolote. These are Azov volunteers who oppose the withdrawal of troops from the front lines. Locals are divided – some are “for disengagement”, others are “strongly against”. Both camps are united and divided over one thing – fear of the future
There is a bus four times a day from Zolote to Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast (liberated by Ukrainian troops-Ed)
71-year-old Liubov Semenivna shows us the bullet holes fired on the walls of her house a few days ago (October 28). The 7.62 caliber bullets hit the walls and the roof
This dog survived a missile that hit his mistress’s summer kitchen. The dog and his kennel were thrown violently into the air by the blast. Nothing is left of the kitchen
The reserve positions of the second defense line of the Ukrainian army is situated on the heights beyond the village
Today, the Ukrainian soldiers deployed in defense positions before Zolote-4 have not withdrawn. Disengagement district No.2 is located between the villages of Zolote-4 and Luhanske (No.1 is Stanytsia Luhanska). Pictured is a tattered Ukrainian flag on a utility pole in Zolote-4
We walk from Zolote-4 to Katerynivka; part of the road is in the “grey zone”. To the left of the road are signs, politely warning passers-by that they might be shot at without warning
This field lies in front of the new positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. New fortifications were erected and rows of barbed wire were placed before the trenches. We were not allowed to take pictures of the new positions, so we just walked by them slowly. The new positions look rock-solid
The OSCE monitors the disengagement of troops near the entrance to Katerynivka
In the streets of Katerynivka we meet 79-year-old Ivanivna. She read about the disengagement of forces “on a utility pole” and said that she didn’t like what was happening
According to the terms of the disengagement, one side of the street in Katerynivka is now, so to speak, Ukrainian, the other is in the “grey zone”. The village has already been in the “grey zone” – from 2014 to January 2018, when the Ukrainian army liberated it (from Russian-backed militants-Ed)
A resident of Katerynivka, Grannie Liuba, tells us what’s happening in the village. It’s been very quiet for a few days; nobody is shooting. She is “for disengagement”; she wants “the shooting to stop”. But, she doesn’t want to live in the “grey zone”, and adds that if the authorities had offered to help her leave, she would have gone
Young kids on a street in Katerynivka
On the way back, we pass an abandoned house where the Ukrainian military was stationed. The walls are illustrated with the names of the soldiers’ native towns and villages
Katerynivka – no comment
Katerynivka – no comment
We completed our visit and photo report. Leaving the area, we saw the crescent moon starkly outlined in the dark sky over “grey” Katerynivka. It was quiet…
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