Lebedynske: Life on the Firing Line
Despite their close proximity to the front line, the residents of Lebedynske try to live their lives as normally as possible
While there may be a ceasefire on paper, in reality, the local residents know all too well that Russian-led militants violate the ceasefire on a regular basis.
What was once a student dormitory has now been completely abandoned. A 120-millimeter shell obliterated the roof, forcing people to flee. The destruction is just one of the scars from Russia’s war, which arrived in Lebedynske in 2014.
Before 2014, the population of Lebedynske stood at about 300. Now, it’s a third of that. The attacks by Russian-led militants forced the majority of residents to pack their bags and leave for safer areas. Those who remain – are mostly senior citizens. The kindergarten and school are shut down. Children only visit to see their relatives. The bus from Mariupol, a city 20 kilometers away, seldom runs. A local shop owner, Lyuba, closed her main store in the village a long time ago — now she sells basic foods in the House of Culture.
Residents of Lebedynske are often woken up by the sound of explosions from Shyrokyne, a village 10 minutes drive away, where fighting continues.
“It happens at night, early in the morning, sometimes in the evening. We live in fear. We’re scared to go to sleep at night,” a Lebedynske resident said.
Ukrainian volunteers, soldiers, and police try to ensure the local villagers are safe.
“In the nearest future, we plan to launch two rapid response groups here. In this, we’ll be helped by personnel coming from central Ukraine. They will serve here doing 24-hour shifts in a patrol car and will respond to calls from citizens,” Oleksandr Koriak, a representative of the Kalmius Police Department said.
The village is situated parallel to the main road between Ukrainian controlled Mariupol and the occupied territories.
Despite the close proximity to the front line, the inhabitants try to live their lives as normally as possible and hope that the Ukrainian flag will continue to wave over them.