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The only Ukrainian-language bookstore about to shut down in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast

Photo: Suspilne Donbas
The only Ukrainian-language bookstore about to shut down in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast
Article by: Oleh Lomakin
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
The only Ukrainian-language bookstore in Bakhmut – Eney – is about to close its doors unless a good soul comes to the rescue. The owner, Volodymyr Deryvedmid announced that all the books will be put on sale. There is a great variety of books, and all of them are in Ukrainian.
Photo: Suspilne Donbas

The Eney bookstore appeared in Bakhmut about six years ago. It was opened by a former soldier, a volunteer soldier serving in the Donbas Battalion – Volodymyr Deryvedmid. He named the bookstore in honour of his fallen comrade-in-arms, Anton Tsedik.

Anton Tsedik, call sign “Eney”, was born on July 31, 1987 in Poltava. He took an active part in the Revolution of Dignity. He served in the 2nd Special-purpose Donbas Battalion. On the morning of August 29, 2014, a convoy of Ukrainian soldiers from the Donbas Battalion was retreating from the Ilovaisk hellhole along the so-called green corridor, moving from the village of Mnohopillia to Chervonosilske.The convoy came under fire from Russian-controlled militants. Anton was shot and killed by an enemy machine gun. On September 3, Anton’s body, along with the bodies of 96 other Ukrainian soldiers who perished at Ilovaisk, was brought to the Dnipro morgue. He was identified by relatives and buried in his hometown on September 8, 2014.

Eney, Aeneas, is the hero of Ivan Kotliarevsky’s classic Eneyida written in 1798, a parody of Virgil’s Aeneid, where Kotliarevsky transforms the Trojan heroes into Zaporizhzhian Cossacks. It is considered to be the first literary work published wholly in Modern Ukrainian. Although Ukrainian was the everyday language for millions of people in Ukraine, it was officially discouraged from literature in regions controlled by Imperial Russia.

“This was my front line. When I arrived in Bakhmut, I had great ambitions. I wanted Ukrainian-language books to be available to the people here, novels, poetry and books about Ukraine, including today’s history. I decided that I’d sell the books at a minimal price, just slightly more than the retail price.” says Volodymyr.

Photo: Suspilne Donbas

Volodymyr says that for many visitors, Eney has become more than a bookstore. It serves as a gathering place for Ukrainians, a cultural venue where visitors can exchange ideas and news, recite Ukrainian poems, and read novels, magazines and booklets.

“My friend Anton, “Eney” as he was known to all, always had a book in his hand, even during the last minutes of his life in the Ilovaisk hellhole. Why? We were told to take our weapons, ammunition, but not to bother about food, because not everyone would return. “Eney” took his weapons, ammunition and a book, ” added Volodymyr.

Currently, prices have been reduced and all the books are on sale. The Eney bookstore will shut down at the end of November. Volodymyr says that the bookstore was not meant to be a profitable business, but a social project. He used most of his pension to pay for the rent, as the bookstore did not bring in much money.

Volodymyr with a customer in his bookstore. Photo: Suspilne Donbas

Volodymyr hopes to find a person who could continue this business. Otherwise, the doors of the Eney bookstore will close in one month.

Bakhmut, formerly Artemivsk, is the oldest historical and cultural centre of Donetsk Oblast, located about 88 km from the city of Donetsk, and very close to the front line (only about 30 km).

During the Russian invasion and occupation of the Donbas in 2014, Bakhmut was captured by the Pro-Russian militants and declared part of the so called “DNR”. The city was eventually retaken by Ukrainian forces on July 7, 2014.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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