How is it in Luhansk in the autumn? Like in any city, people are preparing for the winter. Every now and then you see old men pulling trolleys with bags of onions and potatoes on them. This is a budget version of potato delivery in parts with substantial savings on taxis. Potatoes cost now from 8 to 12 UAH per kilo, multiplied by 2 and you will find out the price in rubles with the help of which we can buy potatoes here. The price on onions starts with 9 UAH 50 cents per kilogram and more. I wanted to write that it is expensive, but what is cheap now? Fresh unsalted salo at the store costs 300 rubles per kilogram. I heard one conversation on the phone: "Bring everything you have to Luhansk because the prices are higher even than in Russia”. Therefore, we ask to bring coffee, cheese, salo, meat and medicine from Ukraine, we ask those who can be persuaded. Today, the local radio announced that in order to solve the problem of harvesting vegetables in the country, they will be purchased in Belarus, because the local crop cannot satisfy the local needs in making preservations for the winter.
Warm autumn promotes spontaneous trifle trade. On selling trays of the spontaneous market you can find natural crystal, bronze, silver, and some other useless things like videotapes, toys from Kinder Surprise, wheels of old prams and others. I always want to see those who buy this strange set of things, but judging by the number of sellers, buyers are likely to do it.
Almost for a year you can see on the only local Luhansk 24 TV channel commercial which says "we buy hair at a high price, soviet yellow watches, even broken”. The location of collecting things may vary; customer roams in “LPR” cities and it reminds me of the inspection of dead in concentration camps trying to find gold coronas and rings. These ads are so intrusive and promising that after hearing it for thousand times you begin to think how much you can get for your own hair.
The ads on poles people plan to purchase elephants of Soviet period and amber beads AT HIGH PRICE. In general, the theme of the Soviet Union in the "republic" is similar to soreness of the mouth, it is everywhere, it’s nauseam. Before the war people spoke about the Soviet period with nostalgia, as a period of happy youth or carefree childhood, the modern image makers "of the republic" have exhausted the theme of the USSR to the extreme.
Do you want "as it was before"? Back in the USSR: Narodnyi supermarket which is positioned as the most honest supermarket with the lowest prices. A simple sign, no advertising, commodity prices speak for themselves. All the stores are located in the former ATB supermarkets. That is "narodnyi" and "honest" are not in the same sense row.
The dominance of the patriotic theme of love for the homeland looks like a pasta torture. You want it, you get it. Since available television is only Russian, army power and love to the country inspire us from almost all of the TV channels. Old-fashioned patriotic films and movies about heroes of the new era fill the evenings of those who are just too lazy to click the remote control. And yet it seems to be the way to show us the power of the neighboring country, its generosity, unselfishness, striving to help us in every possible way.
Local news called fabulous amounts of humanitarian aid which Russia sends to us. I remember the excitement of Luhansk during the first raids of help. In the streets old men were crying, both the old and young were waving their hands in gratitude; we are remembered, we will not be left and will not be let to die. But time passed and gratitude and delight at first were changed into surprise where the aid goes, but then the anger of this dissonance between the broadcasting on TV and actually what’s happening in “LPR”.
My friends think: apparently this aid goes to hospitals and schools. When they got in the hospital, where it’s impossible to recover without additional food, they said: probably aid goes to those who are in special need. Those in special need said: perhaps there is someone who needs more than we do.
Because of what happened in Luhansk just a few days ago there appeared a long-awaited vaccine against rubella, measles and mumps. Vaccination, as well as all other medicine, in general is free of charge. But ... The nurse asks to buy syringes, cotton wool and spirit. Since there is no pharmacy in the hospital for a long time there, and running with the child in search of the pharmacy is not possible, she asked to pay for it all to her, "19 rubles for two syringes and for as much as you want to cotton and spirit".
District nurses will charge 4 rubles for a copy of the forms we have to fill in to give consent to the child's vaccination. The form is old-fashioned in Ukrainian, but we are asked to fill it in in Russian. In the laboratory, a bit ingratiating laboratory worker during doing tests asks to help the lab with 10 rubles...
If the medicine is free of charge, how and where is it noticeable? Probably, it’s not because expert advice is free of charge. I happened to be in the emergency room in the summer. I must say, I was against it for a long time. The treatment of wounds was really done for free, but then the quest began. The only pharmacy in town that works 24 hours out of 12 had only two medicines prescribed by my doctor. The next day the marathon went on in search of Russian analogues to the drugs. I didn’t find all.
Summer bronchitis of my son was managed with minimal cost; I found everything in the third pharmacy. I know that the militants’ fighting injuries are treated free of charge. In more complicated cases they are transported to Rostov, and the fighters of higher ranks are taken for treatment to Moscow. Perhaps, in this case the medicine is really free of charge.
The Soviet Union theme is used everywhere, only blind won’t see it: a new cover with a star for the passport, orange ties for schoolchildren, free concerts for vulnerable groups of the population, cheburechna place (fast food outlet) near a supermarket with the symbols of the Soviet Union.
Social card as the highest award issued at the last elections wasn’t needed even once for the year, but most Luhansk dwellers continue to keep it under the cover of the passport in case they need it. At the very least, we were told about its magical effects a lot motivating us to come to the last election. The main emphasis was on the fact that without it we cannot get salaries and pensions. Perhaps somewhere we lost, we really did not get any payments for a half a year after the election with the card or without it.
Since the beginning of the school the increase in lessons of the Russian language in schools and universities is noticeable. Russian is taught by remaining Ukrainian teacher. From the conversation of two grandmothers at a bus stop, accompanying grandchildren to school: "Did your grandson start to study in Russian?" - "Yes, now he is in the Russian class, but at home the grandson reads in the Ukrainian language, he had previously studied in the Ukrainian class". And the ripples of St. George's ribbons which are everywhere. Even on the infants in the queue to the pediatrician and instead of straps of students’ watches. At the playground on the broken transformer box there will be drunkenly written "Thanks to the grandfather for the victory!" But we ask to bring drugs, salo, coffee and cheese from Ukraine...
And now we are becoming Orthodox. In schools and universities classes will conducted by the priests. They say that as in Russia, there will be lessons of God's law, because our state is now Orthodox, not secular as it was before. In the republic there is a tradition now to hold the conference "Russian world, Orthodoxy, the church and the state in the twenty-first century". And we can go to confession not very far from the workplace.
Yana Viktorova, Luhansk, especially for OstroV