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Ukraine: we go on the frontline

War is a place. A territory with moving, uncertain, accessible boundaries that is inhabited by idealistic romantics or desperate cynics, men that are too generous or too cold, too smart or too stupid to get along with the challenges and frustration of peace. The many undeclared wars in this age are the greedy birthplaces of new citizenships. They give asylum and passports to everyone that is willing to take a rifle and embrace a cause, and often these two things coincide: the cause is the rifle and the desire to embrace it. The Pravy Sector is a paramilitary nationalistic group, it is often confused with the Azov battalion but they do not share the racist ideology and the Nazi fascist liturgy. As opposed to the Azov battalion, the Pravy Sector opens its doors to whoever wants to fight against the philo-Russian separatists in the Donbass region, it is the same war that the international diplomacy and press agencies have declared finished; a clear example of the western desire to declare concluded wars that people still wants to fight. To know what is really going you have to go there. You need to find a team of scouts or explorers – people that get very close the enemy lines in order to spy their movements –, and identify the places where they keep the artillery and flag the minefields. And then hear; listen to the silence interrupted by roaring of big calibres. It is when it is silent that your heart is in your throat, it flattens as an old woollen rug on the noises made by the tree and the wind, that your eardrums cannot record anymore.
We were there with Ivan and his men, a captain that was a former piano teacher, and his men: the seventh battalion Pravy Sektor. All of the guys in his team are Ukrainian, all of them from the west of the country. The others are Austrians that are between jobs and are here to fight this war that does not pay that much. They are here to build their curriculum, as a mercenary that does not work for long time gets all rusty and does not get called to work anymore.
Ivan is nice. He does not live the war; he is fighting this war, as this is his home. But he learned to live it and you can move while he moves and run while he runs as he has trained ears and can distinguish a cat meowing even in the roars. It is not easy to arrive on the front, you need to have a map in your head and it is a map of memories, battles, and houses, families that have offered apricots or coffee and who knows where they are now…all except Marika and her husband. They stayed. As stubborn as donkeys, as they have built their house themselves and they have lived all their life on that land. Ivan’s team brings them some supplies and some money when they have some. Looking outside the plastic panels, that have taken the place of the windows, today there is also the teacher of the village. A grad has exploded in his garden; a splinter has hit the cup of tea he was holding. «Everywhere here is mined», he says. Outside, grads and 120mm mortars celebrate a ceasefire that nobody has ever believed in. [ Ugo Lucio Borga ]

published on 2015-11-02 in FuriarumAera

ECHOPHOTOJOURNALISM Ucraina UgoLucioBorga FuriarumAera

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