Sputnik’s photographer Irina Gerashchenko has witnessed all the horrors in Donbass with her lens: the funerals of kids killed by Ukrainian bombing, schoolchildren with shell fragments in their backpacks, and lonely old people in houses destroyed by artillery strikes.
This was the funeral of eleven-year-old Katya from Gorlovka, Donetsk. On May 26, 2015, a Ukrainian shell killed the girl. Her three-year-old brother Bogdan was hit in the back by shrapnel, the boy survived. Yekaterina, Katya’s mother, had her arm blown off. Her father Yuri was killed.
Ukrainian Armed Forces shelled this elderly man’s house. On July 15, 2015, the Ukrainian Army destroyed four residential houses in Gorlovka with artillery strikes. One woman was killed and another was seriously wounded and lost her leg in the shelling. The Ukrainian military did not consider it a war crime to shell houses with civilians including elderly people, children, and women. Thousands lost their lives, loved ones, health, or the roof over their heads during those eight years.
A young resident of Gorlovka shows a piece of ammunition that exploded in a local school. On August 25, 2015, the Ukrainian military shelled the city, damaging two schools, a kindergarten, and a vocational school building. Four local residents were wounded and one woman was killed.
The most unprotected in this conflict were not only children, but also lonely, sick and elderly people. They had nowhere to run. This photo shows an elderly woman trying to keep herself warm under blankets. Her house in the Kievsky district of Donetsk was hit by Ukrainian artillery strikes in March 2017.
People would take shelter in basements to wait out the shelling. At times, they had to sit there for weeks. Little inhabitants of Donbass, growing up under the sound of Ukrainian “incoming attacks”, had to live their entire life underground. Toys in a makeshift children’s room and drawings on the walls in one of the basements in the village of Spartak in the Donetsk region, 2017.
The Holy Iveron Convent in Donetsk, damaged by shelling, has become a testament to Ukrainian barbarism. In the fall of 2014, DPR forces began liberating the Donetsk airport, not far from the convent. That’s when the monastery and cemetery came under artillery fire from the new airport terminal, which at the time was controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including with incendiary shells. The cemetery was particularly damaged.
An inscription reading “God save us” above one of the apartments in a house destroyed by Ukrainian shelling. Donetsk, 2015.