#5kfromthefrontline

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#fivekilometersfromthefrontline#5Kfromthefrontline#5kfromthefrontline#Repost#repost#andrewlacey#welcometodonetsk#everydaywar#warispersonal

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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Vladislav, a high-school graduate from Toretsk, is moving to a bigger city outside of the war zone this September. He will study in a military academy.
Most of young adults living in the frozen conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine have a clear sense that they won’t be able to fulfil their potential in their native towns. War and infrastructure disruption related to it has nearly destroyed the local economy. If you buy an apartment or a house, you can never be sure that it will survive the next shelling. Toretsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.
Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Olga and Nikolay Grinik live 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast.
Both their children were born during the war, and they joke about it. “In 2014 we were sitting without electricity for three months because of fighting. Nine months later our daughter Miroslava (right) was born. In 2016 we had no light for a month, and nine months later we got our son Kirill (left). How else you gonna entertain yourself in the darkness? Now we pray there is no electricity outage again,” says Nikolay.
The family owns the only horse in frontline Avdeevka – 11-years old Lastochka (Swallow). She contributes to the family budget: on the weekends they give cart rides to kids in downtown Avdeevka.
Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Members of the Ukrainian army occupy a position under a highway bridge in Peski, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

The active phase of the war was suspended by the Minsk Agreements, which succeeded in setting a ceasefire and temporarily froze the conflict, but failed to resolve it. Four years later, two armies are still stuck in a deadlock in front of each other.
Soldiers spend most of their time watching the enemy’s positions and sustaining their own living. Activities like digging trenches and building fortifications, cutting wood, cooking and doing laundry take up much more time than actual fighting.
Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Members of one extended family, Aleksandra Mountyan, Miroslava Grinik, Olga Grinik, Victoria Mountyan and Valentina Mountyan (L-R), hang out in the backyard of Olga’s house, 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

Around dusk the sounds of shelling and gunfire begin. People may appear relaxed, but it’s an illusion: they listen to determine the degree of danger. Usually they don’t react as long as they hear that the shelling is outgoing. When they hear incoming, they start listening carefully. Signs of closer hits, such as a particularly loud sound, a tangible explosion wave or car alarms triggered by it, usually serve as signals to go inside. Everyone knows the safest place in their home.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Anna Kirichenko just moved into a new house in Toretsk, eastern Ukraine, together with her husband, Andrey, and 3-year old daughter, Ksyusha.

The family didn’t move by choice but by necessity. About a month ago they were having a barbecue in the backyard of their old house when a shell exploded in the garden, only 20 meters away from them. It was the final sign that the neighbourhood was too unsafe to stay in any longer. So they moved, but not far, only a few kilometres away.

The place where they live now is a bit better, but not significantly safer. They regularly hear shelling and see tanks manoeuvring on their street. Their survival strategy is simple: if the sound of fighting is moderate, they don’t pay attention. If the widow glass begins shaking, they go inside. If it becomes really bad, they get into the car and drive to downtown Toretsk to spend a night at Anna’s mother place.

It’s always hard for an outsider to understand why people, especially young middle class people, keep living in war zones. The simple exercise in this case is to imagine that you have to leave your home tomorrow, forever, with only one suitcase or what you can fit in the car. And to try to answer all the questions that arise. Will your parents agree to go too or will you have to leave them behind? What about grandparents? What are you going to do with your pets? Do you have enough resources to start over in the new place? And, anyway, where will you go?

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | When Alina and Igor Leschina decided to marry this summer in Avdeevka, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, they had two venue options: the local registry office with two small, dark rooms in a building that had been shelled, or the community center down the street. In the end, they chose the center—generally considered a more pleasant venue, despite being next to a minefield. After signing their marriage certificate, the bride and groom bowed to their parents. “Now that you are married to each other, don’t forget to call your parents,” said the registrar who married them, “and come to visit them.” That simple advice to the newlyweds, the kind that most newlyweds elsewhere may receive, was also a reminder that in these frontline areas of a war that has simmered for years, many young people still leave for safer places while their parents stay behind.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Credit to: @natgeo
[ Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Anna Kirichenko just moved into a new house in Toretsk, eastern Ukraine, together with her husband, Andrey, and 3-year-old daughter, Ksyusha. The family didn’t move by choice, but by necessity. About a month ago they were having a barbecue in the back yard of their old house when a shell exploded in the garden. It was the final sign that the neighbourhood was too unsafe to stay in any longer. So they moved, but not far, only a few kilometers away. The place where they live now is a bit better, but not significantly safer.
It’s always hard for an outsider to understand why people, especially young middle-class people, keep living in war zones. The simple exercise in this case is to imagine that you have to leave your home tomorrow, forever, with only one suitcase or what you can fit in the car, and to try to answer all the questions that would arise. Would your parents agree to go too, or will you have to leave them behind? What about grandparents? What are you going to do with your pets?
It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began. The front line is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children. Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline ]


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#repost from @natgeo
Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Members of one extended family, Aleksandra Mountyan, Miroslava Grinik, Olga Grinik, Victoria Mountyan, and Valentina Mountyan (L-R), hang out in the backyard of Olga’s house, 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

Around dusk the sounds of shelling and gunfire begin. People may appear relaxed, but it’s an illusion: they listen to determine the degree of danger. Usually they don’t react as long as they hear that the shelling is outgoing. When they hear incoming, they start listening carefully. Signs of closer hits, such as a particularly loud sound, a tangible explosion wave, or car alarms triggered by it, usually serve as signals to go inside. Everyone knows the safest place in their home.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static, and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married, and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Anna Kirichenko just moved into a new house in Toretsk, eastern Ukraine, together with her husband, Andrey, and 3-year-old daughter, Ksyusha. The family didn’t move by choice, but by necessity. About a month ago they were having a barbecue in the back yard of their old house when a shell exploded in the garden. It was the final sign that the neighbourhood was too unsafe to stay in any longer. So they moved, but not far, only a few kilometers away. The place where they live now is a bit better, but not significantly safer.
It’s always hard for an outsider to understand why people, especially young middle-class people, keep living in war zones. The simple exercise in this case is to imagine that you have to leave your home tomorrow, forever, with only one suitcase or what you can fit in the car, and to try to answer all the questions that would arise. Would your parents agree to go too, or will you have to leave them behind? What about grandparents? What are you going to do with your pets?
It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began. The front line is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children. Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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#Repost @natgeo
Made by @Image.Downloader
· · · ·
Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Members of one extended family, Aleksandra Mountyan, Miroslava Grinik, Olga Grinik, Victoria Mountyan, and Valentina Mountyan (L-R), hang out in the backyard of Olga’s house, 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

Around dusk the sounds of shelling and gunfire begin. People may appear relaxed, but it’s an illusion they listen to determine the degree of danger. Usually they don’t react as long as they hear that the shelling is outgoing. When they hear incoming, they start listening carefully. Signs of closer hits, such as a particularly loud sound, a tangible explosion wave, or car alarms triggered by it, usually serve as signals to go inside. Everyone knows the safest place in their home.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static, and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married, and raise childreyan, and Valentina Mountyan (L-R), hang out in the backyard of Olga’s house, 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

Around dusk the sounds of shelling and gunfire begin. People may appear relaxed, but it’s an illusion they listen to determine the degree of danger. Usually they don’t react as long as they hear that the shelling is outgoing. When they hear incoming, they start listening carefully. Signs of closer hits, such as a particularly loud sound, a tangible explosion wave, or car alarms triggered by it, usually sen.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | Members of one extended family, Aleksandra Mountyan, Miroslava Grinik, Olga Grinik, Victoria Mountyan, and Valentina Mountyan (L-R), hang out in the backyard of Olga’s house, 50 meters away from a Ukrainian frontline military position in old Avdeevka, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

Around dusk the sounds of shelling and gunfire begin. People may appear relaxed, but it’s an illusion: they listen to determine the degree of danger. Usually they don’t react as long as they hear that the shelling is outgoing. When they hear incoming, they start listening carefully. Signs of closer hits, such as a particularly loud sound, a tangible explosion wave, or car alarms triggered by it, usually serve as signals to go inside. Everyone knows the safest place in their home.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static, and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married, and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Foto de Anastasia Taylor-Lind @ anastasiatl | Quando Alina e Igor Leschina decidiram se casar neste verão em Avdeevka, uma cidade industrial no leste da Ucrânia, eles tinham duas opções de local: o escritório de registro local com duas salas pequenas e escuras em um prédio que havia sido bombardeado ou o centro comunitário rua. No final, eles escolheram o centro - geralmente considerado um local mais agradável, apesar de estar ao lado de um campo minado. Depois de assinar a certidão de casamento, a noiva e o noivo se curvaram para os pais. “Agora que você é casado, não se esqueça de ligar para seus pais”, disse o cartório que os casou, “e venha visitá-los.” ​​Esse simples conselho para os recém-casados, do tipo que a maioria dos recém-casados ​​em outros lugares pode receber Foi também um lembrete de que nessas áreas da linha de frente de uma guerra que fervilhou durante anos, muitos jovens partem para lugares mais seguros enquanto seus pais ficam para trás.

Já se passaram mais de quatro anos desde o início da guerra na Ucrânia. A linha de frente é estática e a vida ao redor é bem normal - ou assim parece. Pessoas em zonas de conflito se acostumam com o perigo. Como em qualquer outro lugar, eles trabalham, cozinham, se divertem, se apaixonam, se casam e criam filhos.

Texto de Alisa Sopova @ sopova.alisa, jornalista ucraniana de Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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From @natgeo:
Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | When Alina and Igor Leschina decided to marry this summer in Avdeevka, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, they had two venue options: the local registry office with two small, dark rooms in a building that had been shelled, or the community center down the street. In the end, they chose the center—generally considered a more pleasant venue, despite being next to a minefield. After signing their marriage certificate, the bride and groom bowed to their parents. “Now that you are married to each other, don’t forget to call your parents,” said the registrar who married them, “and come to visit them.” That simple advice to the newlyweds, the kind that most newlyweds elsewhere may receive, was also a reminder that in these front-line areas of a war that has simmered for years, many young people leave for safer places while their parents stay behind.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began. The front line is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa , a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl | When Alina and Igor Leschina decided to marry this summer in Avdeevka, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, they had two venue options: the local registry office with two small, dark rooms in a building that had been shelled, or the community center down the street. In the end, they chose the center—generally considered a more pleasant venue, despite being next to a minefield. After signing their marriage certificate, the bride and groom bowed to their parents. “Now that you are married to each other, don’t forget to call your parents,” said the registrar who married them, “and come to visit them.” That simple advice to the newlyweds, the kind that most newlyweds elsewhere may receive, was also a reminder that in these front-line areas of a war that has simmered for years, many young people leave for safer places while their parents stay behind.

It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began. The front line is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children.

Text by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa , a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk. #5kfromthefrontline


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Last week I spent a magical few days in upstate NY with the wonderful Alberto Caputo @onealberto1 , learning about silver smelting and sculpture for a new phase of #5kfromthefrontline Lots of what I needed- new ideas, good food, creative company and beautiful views.


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#5kfromthefrontline work-in-progress sculpture element of ongoing work on the war in Ukraine. Still a ways to go yet but super excited about taking the project in a new direction with @andrewlaceysculpture and @onealberto1 @sopova.alisa


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Shrapnel being sent to the foundry for casting this morning - super excited to be developing a new strand of #5kfromthefrontline with @onealberto1 as part of my ongoing work on the war in Ukraine.

@sopova.alisa #andrewlacey #welcometodonetsk #everydaywar #warispersonal


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@time Magazine published our work from Eastern Ukraine today, the result of a summer spent reporting with my dear friend and collaborator @sopova.alisa on assignment for @eyewitnesstoatrocities . "It has been more than four years since the war in Ukraine began, and nothing spectacular is happening anymore. The frontline is static and life around it is pretty normal—or so it seems. People in conflict zones get used to danger. Like everywhere else, they work, cook, have fun, fall in love, get married and raise children. Being from Donetsk myself, I have graduated learned that war is experienced in small everyday details, rather than in epic scenes of destruction. As my normal life collapsed in the first few months of the conflict, I felt panic, fear, hatred. Since then, I’ve adjusted." LINK IN BIO. With much gratitude to our phenomenal editors @katzandrew and @naina.bajekal ! #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Getting some much needed help with editing #5kfromthefrontline today from @finbarroreilly 💕


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Abbess Elizaveta is the mother superior of a convent in the village of Peski.

Currently she has no nuns under her supervision because Peski is on the frontline. The monastery was hit 35 times by shelling damaging buildings, the fruit garden and killing peacocks in the poultry house. The facility has had no water, gas and electricity for four years since the war started.
The Abbess sees taking care of the convent despite the fighting as her responsibility, her obedience and an important spiritual experience. In practice, this experience includes long weeks of hiding in the basement, being threatened and being subject to looting by members of volunteer battalions.

Now that the fighting is less intense the convent is slowly coming back to life. Apple and pear trees in the garden are recovering from the damage. Recently the two surviving peacocks had chicks. The baby birds are growing and recognize Abbess Elizaveta already. Two weeks ago a mass was served in the convent for the first time since the beginning of the war. The only parishioners who attended were the soldiers from nearby positions: almost no civilians remain in this previously lively suburb of Donetsk. ***
This is the last post in the series for now: our current assignment is over. We are very grateful to @eyewitnesstoatrocities who sent us to record the human stories in shelled civilian neighborhoods, to the beautiful and brave people in Eastern Ukraine who shared their experiences with us and to readers who approach our posts with open minds and hearts. We will continue soon because we believe that people who live on the frontlines pay the greatest price for the political and military ambitions of others, and that we must listen to their voices.
Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Abbess Elizaveta is the mother superior of a convent in the village of Peski.

Currently she has no nuns under her supervision because Peski is on the frontline. The monastery was hit 35 times by shelling damaging buildings, the fruit garden and killing peacocks in the poultry house. The facility has had no water, gas and electricity for four years since the war started.
The Abbess sees taking care of the convent despite the fighting as her responsibility, her obedience and an important spiritual experience. In practice, this experience includes long weeks of hiding in the basement, being threatened and being subject to looting by members of volunteer battalions.

Now that the fighting is less intense the convent is slowly coming back to life. Apple and pear trees in the garden are recovering from the damage. Recently the two surviving peacocks had chicks. The baby birds are growing and recognize Abbess Elizaveta already. Two weeks ago a mass was served in the convent for the first time since the beginning of the war. The only parishioners who attended were the soldiers from nearby positions: almost no civilians remain in this previously lively suburb of Donetsk. ***
This is the last post in the series for now: our current assignment is over. We are very grateful to @eyewitnesstoatrocities who sent us to record the human stories in shelled civilian neighborhoods, to the beautiful and brave people in Eastern Ukraine who shared their experiences with us and to readers who approach our posts with open minds and hearts. We will continue soon because we believe that people who live on the frontlines pay the greatest price for the political and military ambitions of others, and that we must listen to their voices.
Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Valentina Mountyan loves foraging for mushrooms. When she was a child, her father taught her how to identify the good ones from the bad ones. Now she is teaching her niece Miroslava to find Russules, the most popular forest mushrooms in this region, among the leaves. This hobby provides the family with a nice dietary supplement: mushrooms get fried with potatoes, added to soups and pickled for winter.

Currently Valentina cannot go to the mushroom places she knows from childhood: nearly all the woods around her native Avdeevka are turned into frontline positions or contaminated with landmines. So she has to limit her foraging to a single forest zone that locals consider relatively safe.

Unfortunately, the knowledge of the surroundings often fails people who live by the frontlines, and landmines appear to be where they don’t expect to find them. Last Saturday, three teenagers stepped on a mine in a graveyard in rebel-controlled Gorlovka, two of them died. Only a few days earlier a farmer was hospitalised with heavy wounds after driving his tractor over a hidden explosive device in a field near the government-controlled village of Granitnoe.

According to a recent UN report, Eastern Ukraine has become one of the most mine-contaminated regions in the world.

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Valentina Mountyan loves foraging for mushrooms. When she was a child, her father taught her how to identify the good ones from the bad ones. Now she is teaching her niece Miroslava to find Russules, the most popular forest mushrooms in this region, among the leaves. This hobby provides the family with a nice dietary supplement: mushrooms get fried with potatoes, added to soups and pickled for winter.

Currently Valentina cannot go to the mushroom places she knows from childhood: nearly all the woods around her native Avdeevka are turned into frontline positions or contaminated with landmines. So she has to limit her foraging to a single forest zone that locals consider relatively safe.

Unfortunately, the knowledge of the surroundings often fails people who live by the frontlines, and landmines appear to be where they don’t expect to find them. Last Saturday, three teenagers stepped on a mine in a graveyard in rebel-controlled Gorlovka, two of them died. Only a few days earlier a farmer was hospitalised with heavy wounds after driving his tractor over a hidden explosive device in a field near the government-controlled village of Granitnoe.

According to a recent UN report, Eastern Ukraine has become one of the most mine-contaminated regions in the world.

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Rodion Lebedev lives in Opytnoe, a suburb of Donetsk that became the frontline.

He used to be a small business owner. He had three children and a house that he built by himself and finished decorating three months before the war started. He also had three dogs, two cats, a guinea pig, a parrot and a turtle.

All the pets died during the war – some from shelling, others from stress. The oldest son, the one who would always help Rodion in business and housework, moved away when the war started and the family hasn’t seen him in two years. Their house was shelled multiple times. Rodion walked us around to show the furniture, wallpaper and wrought iron railings, all mutilated by shell hits.

Rodion suffered a lot from the actions of the members of Ukrainian volunteer battalions who suspected him of helping the enemy. They beat and humiliated him, looted his house in his presence and threatened to rape his wife.

Despite these traumatic experiences, Rodion stayed in the village and began helping neighbors, mostly elderly people more vulnerable than himself. Currently his yellow minivan is the only connection between Opytnoe and the outer world, driving free of charge people, groceries, cash and humanitarian aid along the mud road through the minefield to nearby Avdeevka.

Currently Opytnoe has no electricity, gas or water supplies, and the prospect of resuming them is not promising. But Rodion stays there, and for all the grandmas depending on him it means that the village is still alive. He also has a new pet in his house – a Scottish Fold cat named Tyoma.
The authorities make it clear that the heavily damaged infrastructure in the grey zone won’t be repaired in the foreseeable future. But Rodion is stubborn and resourceful. “I saved some money and I am ready to rebuild my house,” he says, “And I am planning to install a solar panel on the roof.” Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Rodion Lebedev lives in Opytnoe, a suburb of Donetsk that became the frontline.

He used to be a small business owner. He had three children and a house that he built by himself and finished decorating three months before the war started. He also had three dogs, two cats, a guinea pig, a parrot and a turtle.

All the pets died during the war – some from shelling, others from stress. The oldest son, the one who would always help Rodion in business and housework, moved away when the war started and the family hasn’t seen him in two years. Their house was shelled multiple times. Rodion walked us around to show the furniture, wallpaper and wrought iron railings, all mutilated by shell hits.

Rodion suffered a lot from the actions of the members of Ukrainian volunteer battalions who suspected him of helping the enemy. They beat and humiliated him, looted his house in his presence and threatened to rape his wife.

Despite these traumatic experiences, Rodion stayed in the village and began helping neighbors, mostly elderly people more vulnerable than himself. Currently his yellow minivan is the only connection between Opytnoe and the outer world, driving free of charge people, groceries, cash and humanitarian aid along the mud road through the minefield to nearby Avdeevka.

Currently Opytnoe has no electricity, gas or water supplies, and the prospect of resuming them is not promising. But Rodion stays there, and for all the grandmas depending on him it means that the village is still alive. He also has a new pet in his house – a Scottish Fold cat named Tyoma.
The authorities make it clear that the heavily damaged infrastructure in the grey zone won’t be repaired in the foreseeable future. But Rodion is stubborn and resourceful. “I saved some money and I am ready to rebuild my house,” he says, “And I am planning to install a solar panel on the roof.” Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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People in rural Ukraine rely on subsistence farming a lot, especially in times of war when jobs, access to goods and the banking system is unstable. Everyone here knows that you cannot depend on the government to survive winter but you can stuff your cellar with potatoes, conserved vegetable salads, pickles and jams from your garden. Summer is the time to grow, harvest and conserve plants.

Even people whose houses are uninhabitable because of the damage come back almost every day to work in their gardens. They clean up debris, bury shell holes and continue to cultivate the land. Often they find bullets and shrapnel among tomato and cucumber beds.
It’s too hot in the middle of the day, so people usually start gardening late in the afternoon. So did Elena and Alexander when we visited them in their house next to the militarized zone. Afternoon is also the time when gunfire begins at the frontline, a few hundreds away from here, to be followed by shelling later in the evening. But the couple ignores shooting and continues weeding and watering plants. They believe it’s relatively safe as long as you follow some simple rules. For example, avoid climbing trees because the higher you are the greater the chance of getting hit by a random bullet, one of the many that fly around here in excess. Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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People in rural Ukraine rely on subsistence farming a lot, especially in times of war when jobs, access to goods and the banking system is unstable. Everyone here knows that you cannot depend on the government to survive winter but you can stuff your cellar with potatoes, conserved vegetable salads, pickles and jams from your garden. Summer is the time to grow, harvest and conserve plants.

Even people whose houses are uninhabitable because of the damage come back almost every day to work in their gardens. They clean up debris, bury shell holes and continue to cultivate the land. Often they find bullets and shrapnel among tomato and cucumber beds.
It’s too hot in the middle of the day, so people usually start gardening late in the afternoon. So did Elena and Alexander when we visited them in their house next to the militarized zone. Afternoon is also the time when gunfire begins at the frontline, a few hundreds away from here, to be followed by shelling later in the evening. But the couple ignores shooting and continues weeding and watering plants. They believe it’s relatively safe as long as you follow some simple rules. For example, avoid climbing trees because the higher you are the greater the chance of getting hit by a random bullet, one of the many that fly around here in excess.

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Masha was born four days ago. She doesn’t know yet that her home is next to the frontline.

Her parents, Diana and Dmitry, are Baptists. They believe that whatever happens, either war or a new baby, is God’s will. The family already has two daughters, 10-year old Sofia and 5-year old Veronica. All of them live in an unsafe neighborhood in Avdeevka, next to the battlefield.

When the war started, Veronica was only one year old. Once Diana was outside with her when shelling started. She had to throw her daughter on the ground, lay over her and pray that they survive. When she had a chance to look up, she saw that a neighbor, an old lady who was just standing next to them, had her head torn off in the explosion.

Sophia, the older daughter, is going through therapy to recover from her war trauma. On the therapist’s request she made a drawing of her life: children in the playground and a cave next to them. The cave, she explained, is to hide from shelling.

Now the situation in Avdeevka is more quite than before: you can hear shelling nearly every day, but it seldom reaches residential areas. Even though there is no political solution to the conflict currently, Dmitry and Diana hope this standstill means that their youngest daughter will have less traumatic childhood.

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities
www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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Masha was born four days ago. She doesn’t know yet that her home is next to the frontline.

Her parents, Diana and Dmitry, are Baptists. They believe that whatever happens, either war or a new baby, is God’s will. The family already has two daughters, 10-year old Sofia and 5-year old Veronica. All of them live in an unsafe neighborhood in Avdeevka, next to the battlefield.

When the war started, Veronica was only one year old. Once Diana was outside with her when shelling started. She had to throw her daughter on the ground, lay over her and pray that they survive. When she had a chance to look up, she saw that a neighbor, an old lady who was just standing next to them, had her head torn off in the explosion.

Sophia, the older daughter, is going through therapy to recover from her war trauma. On the therapist’s request she made a drawing of her life: children in the playground and a cave next to them. The cave, she explained, is to hide from shelling.

Now the situation in Avdeevka is more quite than before: you can hear shelling nearly every day, but it seldom reaches residential areas. Even though there is no political solution to the conflict currently, Dmitry and Diana hope this standstill means that their youngest daughter will have less traumatic childhood.

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind @anastasiatl and words by Alisa Sopova @sopova.alisa on assignment in Eastern Ukraine for @eyewitnesstoatrocities www.eyewitnessproject.org. #5kfromthefrontline #fivekilometersfromthefrontline


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