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From Reus to fight in the war

Slava Didur (44 years old) woke up last Thursday, like everyone else, overwhelmed by the news of the nightly invasion in his country. It was the climax of months of tension. The war had begun and he had it clear from the beginning. “From the first moment he already said he was going,” explains his partner, who said goodbye to him on Sunday afternoon before leaving in a van with five other people towards the conflict. “It is sad news, very sad, but I have seen that I cannot change his decision, neither I nor his friends. We asked him not to do it, that he stay, but there was no way. He said that he could not live and continue working normally and calmly in this situation, so there was no going back ».

There he has his mother and two nieces, among other relatives, and there has been no way to stop him. It was something like a conviction, an irrepressible instinct that he has had to attend to now: “It was an impulse, something that came to him while he was reading the news but he was very clear about it.” The issue had arisen during these weeks of escalating tension, albeit informally, as an intention that has finally materialized. He had commented on it in conversations but without going any further.

Slava has not hesitated to break with everything. «He was working in the construction sector and has also left it, he warned that he was leaving, but they have told him that they understand him, that they will wait for him, that when he returns he will be able to join again. He even had some important paperwork pending, but everything has been set aside. Her priority now has been to go there and join in », explains her girl.

Within a few hours of the invasion, everything was launched: a call to find more people willing to go and to find the best way to do it, which had to be through the land border, since the airspace was closed. Going by train was also not a valid option. They have also bought material such as food, clothing or medicine to transport in a minibus that left on Sunday afternoon from Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona). «There were six men of different ages, some young but also some older. They have been circulating around Europe, they stopped to sleep when night came, ”says the girl from Slava, who keeps in touch with the entourage.

The scene of that game is especially emotional and is already circulating on the networks in some videos: hugs, kisses, contained emotion and teary eyes marked the picture, which ends with applause from those present in a square when the van starts up , with more than 3,000 kilometers of road ahead.

“We are worried”

Yesterday morning they had already entered Ukraine through the border with Poland, advancing not without difficulties, with many controls. “Those of us who stayed are very worried, not so much about the trip itself but about what might happen now in Ukraine until they manage to reach a barracks or a military zone and be able to arm themselves and protect themselves adequately, because they go with nothing,” he says. her. «I am talking to him on WhatsApp and, of course, now they are defenseless. The plan was to meet up with a family member and then join the fighting, wherever it was, “she narrates.

Slava managed to reach Vinnytsia yesterday afternoon, where he has family, south of Kiev, but in the same administrative region as the Russian-besieged capital. From there, he will have to arm himself and go into combat in areas yet to be determined, where the contribution of these civilians is most needed. He plans to integrate as part of the country’s military deployment.

“These are very personal decisions. Each one has their motivations to go there and each one has their life, there are people who leave children here, their whole family, a whole life made, “explains the Ukrainian couple. Slava was honest before leaving, in an attempt to calm the people who love him and that he has been left on edge. He told them that they were not going there to die, but to help, collaborate, fight and defend themselves. “We are waiting for them alive and with victory,” she confesses, adding: “I asked him if he was going to stay to rebuild the country and he told me no, that he will come back, that his life is here.” Of course, there is no planned return at the moment: “I guess he will stay until the end, until the war is over.”

She moves between logical concern and a feeling of admiration and respect for the decision he has made: «I am proud of what he is doing». That gives her the strength to endure a situation of anguish: “I don’t believe in gods, I’m an atheist, but these days I’m praying.” It is one more example of the communion of the abundant Ukrainian community settled in Tarragona and united against the invasion.

Slava, like so many other compatriots, rebels against the fierce attack unleashed by Russia. “I can’t stay still when they trample on my land. How would you act if your country is invaded? Human rights are above and also the will of a country. And we cannot accept that they force us to live with a government that they impose on you. There are very few people who can agree with Putin’s policy.” To this is added the immense pain of Slava and the entire community, to see the bombings, the cities in ruins and the victims.

It is not the only ongoing mobilization that is born from Tarragona. There are some Ukrainians who are waiting for their relatives and close friends to leave their cities and cross the border to be picked up there. That is why they prepare long trips by car with the aim of getting them out of the country soon. Sometimes making the decision is not easy. “The situation is getting worse every moment and we are getting messages from Ukraine that we don’t know what will be left in a week’s time,” says Zoryana Lyashenko, a Ukrainian living in Vila-seca, looking out for her loved ones: “There are many young people who she prefers to stay because she is willing to fight, there are even civilians stopping convoys». “Some relatives were going to come here but for now they stay, they prefer to be all together, despite the fact that the situation is very hard,” says Maria Makarova, another Ukrainian based in Tarragona.

They already went to the Donbas War

It is not the first time that Ukrainians residing in the province come to fight in their country. The war began in 2014 – now it has spread to practically the entire territory – and at that time there were already people who decided to go to the front. “Everyone has their reasons,” says Zoryana Lyashenko, who adds: “They go to defend their country, because they don’t want anyone to invade.” The situation is now much more serious, because the attacks are raging throughout the country and not just in the eastern region.

At that time, the battle was being waged by two sides: the independence and pro-Russian forces of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the Europeanist troops in favor of unity and who uphold the spirit of Euromaidan, that series of protests to claim Ukrainian openness towards Europe. Today it is a bloody Russian invasion that devastates practically the entire nation.

  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • war
  • conflicts

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