It is so deceptively calm in Slavyansk.

The square is full of mums pushing their babies in prams, teenagers hanging out, drunks falling off the ends of benches. Lenin is wearing a blue and yellow scarf. There is a hole in the top of the post office building and the city administration doors are broken, but this is east Ukraine, where things have been broken and falling apart for years.

Then you see that the notices on those broken doors are about (not enough) humanitarian aid, and about where to report terrorists, provocateurs, and being kidnapped.

Punishment for seperatism

Punishment for separatism

Then you hear what the mums are saying into their mobile phones, what the teens are saying.

“Are they bombing there too now?”

“I don’t understand, you’ve picked up an assault rifle now or what?”

“Is it still standing? Is the house still standing?”

“Where are you? Don’t ring off – I can hear shelling in the background, it sounds so close.”

“Keep safe, oh keep safe!”

Keep safe…

Please come home…

And the drunk, scrabbling for his beer bottle, says “I’m drinking this to forget. It’s lies, it’s all lies” – waving the bottle at the blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, at the mums and babies, the ice-cream sellers, all the normality.

Thank you Ukrainian army for the liberation of Slavyansk

Thank you Ukrainian army for liberating Slavyansk




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