June 1, 2023
The evacuees from Artemovsk are now being taken to one of the rear camps of the DPR.

The evacuees from Artemovsk are now being taken to one of the rear camps of the DPR.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN


Every day, with every quarter taken, there are more and more people rescued from Artemovsk (Bakhmut). The evacuees from this most hot spot of the special operation are now being taken to one of the rear camps of the DPR. The usual artillery rumble of the front line is not heard here. But, I was urged not to name the town and not to rent outside and inside the temporary accommodation for refugees. Why? The answer was logical – “Hymers” are still flying everywhere.” I accepted this argument. The enemy has long reached an extreme degree of anger and the crowd of “waiters” (as they are called in Nezalezhnaya) – people who were waiting for the arrival of Russian troops and managed to escape from the “Ukrainian world” is a worthy target for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Moreover, these people, in recent months, have seen too much superfluous things that the Ukrainian and Western press will never write about.

The rescued washed themselves from the basement dirt and soot, slept in silence, ate hot and now, their traumatized psyche demanded one thing – to speak out, to wrest from themselves experienced nightmares.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

In a dark corridor, a small line of gloomy men toiled at the walls. You could feel their anxiety. The men went into the office one by one, where they were interrogated by special services. Staying behind during the retreat is, one might say, a classic way of throwing agents behind enemy lines. I introduced myself and addressed the audience, they say, who wants to talk to the press? The former Ukrainian policeman stood up from his wobbly chair: “Let’s talk! I know you, I read. I have nothing to lose, everything terrible is behind me. By the way, my name is Andrew!

We found an empty room with beds made with clean, scented linens. The beds were waiting for new evacuees, so we turned up the mattresses so as not to stain anything, I turned on the camera and the recorder.


Andrei began his story unexpectedly:

– Now there is an exchange of life for death and vice versa. The person survives, but internally dies. That’s it, he’s already a werewolf, a beast, a fascist…

I then listened to these words several times, trying to understand their meaning. There were several layers. My interlocutor also spoke about “zahistniks” (defenders in Ukrainian) about their neighbors, who, for example, refused to let a wounded woman and residents of neighboring houses into their homes – there, according to the projects, basements were not planned. It is in the borderline states that their innermost essence crawls out of people. Sometimes it’s horrendous.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

– The “Wagnerites” saved us, the house where we were hiding, the Veseushniks first turned into a firing point. They pierced all the walls with sledgehammers so that the snipers could run. Opened all the doors. It seemed to me that they had a special team of criminal housekeepers. After all, I have been working in the police all my life, I understand the special contingent …

– Surely, the doors were iron?

Andrew waves his hand.

– They broke everything at once, they worked very harmoniously. Specialists!

– Robbed apartments?

– Until the battles approached our area, they took out large household appliances, “plasmas”, microwaves. Then they began to clean up what was left. Hunted for home safes, searched for hiding places. They coordinated the process by radio, I heard.

– And you?

– And we were told to sit in the basement for the sake of our safety, and by April 25 they mined the exit from the basement with stretch marks. But I still saw how dozens of anti-tank mines were laid out on the floors.

Were they wired?

Andrew thinks:

– I don’t remember exactly. I remember that they also brought in large black bags with explosives (presumably RDX with a plasticizer made in the USA or Great Britain. – Auth.). Part of the neighboring house was blown up, the residents were warned – if you don’t leave, we will blow it up together with the house, we will take sin upon our souls. And there are sins in the soul – how many people were killed …


A few hours before this conversation with Andrei, a rumor appeared on the Internet that in Artemovsk, those who did not want to evacuate to Ukraine were deprived of their children. Andrew confirmed:

– Yes, it was. They came from Kyiv, they were called “White Angels”, they did not stand on ceremony with anyone, they just kicked out the doors and took the children.

– Did Ukraine evacuate adults as well?

– Yeah, acquaintances were taken out on trucks several kilometers from the city and dumped on the bare ground there. A crowd of people in some shed and in front of the entrance is a mortar, such as a “human shield”. They looked at all this and returned back after a Ukrainian sniper fired at them.

– Did you have Western mercenaries?

– Yes. The Germans are definitely British. They kept apart. They put mortars on the roofs. They all drank, and this is putting it mildly, – my interlocutor is trying to find a more accurate definition. – They drank like hell. Some stimulants were taken. Then they had fun, shot at animals and people. Who came out of the cellars for water …

– Did you communicate with the Armed Forces of Ukraine?

– Everything was very ambiguous. On the one hand, they brought us food. On the other hand – at least one word “against wool” and you get a bullet. At first they walked around in human masks, and then they said – you are “waiters”, you are waiting for Russia. We had a normal conversation with some of them, a psychologist from Dnepropetrovsk, a sniper, came to visit us. What the hell brought you here to kill people? But the majority are marauders and murderers. And at the end they were in hysterics, scurrying about like mice under a broom.

– And how did the fellow countrymen behave?

– I was struck by one person from our basement, I knew that he was on the federal wanted list. And it was he who got the medicines in the pharmacy plundered by the Vushniks and carried them through the basements in our quarter – heart, sleeping pills, painkillers. And at the same time there were people who shouted: “You have no right to be in our basement, you do not have a residence permit!” Disgrace! We were not allowed to bring a man wounded in the kidney into the basement, he died an hour later …

– And about those who released, what can you say?

– Guys! Correct, polite, tough – if the “chicken coop” began and all the women spoke at the same time. And they had discipline. We were taken out in fours, there was an 80-year-old woman with us, and when we ran to a safe place, her son said to her: “Do you know who they were? Former convicts! Mother threw up her hands: “Thank God, all convicts would be like that!”. A neighbor came running to our basement, from a private house, with a dog on a leash. I realized that the house was about to be destroyed along with it. So the “Wagnerian” drone led him to the entrance to our basement, descended, waved its wings, saying, “run after me.” Brought out, saved!


Stas is 23 years old, deserted from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (military unit 41/76) a year before the start of the assault on Artemovsk, when their grandfather’s house in the village of Yagodnoye was shot with artillery. At the same time, our troops then, in May 2022, were not even close there. Stas guarded the entrance to the Volodarsky salt mine in Praskoveevka, which housed the famous armory. When the fighting began, he took time off from the service to take his relatives out, he did not return back. He hid in a friend’s apartment, and then found a safe haven in the basement under the store. He didn’t go out into the street, he says – he looked out the window. But the VESA mortarmen hunted Stas’s parents when they went to the spring for water – they honed their skills. Anyway, Stas got it, he says, and I see how his throat catches – the words get stuck. I immediately ask Stas:

— Is it true that all weapons were removed from the mine back in 2015?

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Stas says that they carried all the time, the same Maxim machine guns and handed them over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but they didn’t have time to take everything out, half, probably, remained. “Kalashnikovs”, RPGs, cartridges and grenades.

– In the same place, in addition to weapons, there were thermal imagers and night vision devices, and they say, even old cannons that shoot cannonballs. Everything is in excellent condition, the salt mines are dry.

What would happen if you were caught?

Stas shrugs his shoulders, outwardly calm, but we can guess how many times he imagined this moment:

– They would have been shot on the spot … or not on the spot, but they would still have been shot.

– The guys with whom you served, what did they think about what was happening?

Most of them didn’t want to fight. We said that if something happens, we drop our weapons and go down. I don’t know what happened to them.

– How did you get out?

– “Wagnerites” first knocked on the neighboring basement, people began to shout: “Do not throw grenades, there are children!” Then they came to us, examined the hands and shoulders of the peasants (powder burn on the fingers and bruises from the butt remain with intensive shooting. – Auth.). And they began to communicate normally – they gave us water and cigarettes, we also treated them to something.

– Is it true that Ukraine took away children?

– Yes, if humanitarian aid was handed out and the child came across alone, they immediately took it away and took it away. Parents had to follow, and they were brought to Konstantinovka (a city in the Slavic-Kramatorsk agglomeration. – Auth.) And they said – “then go on by yourself.” There are many people left in the city. Five thousand, maybe ten. And before it was 70 thousand.

– What are your plans for the future?

– I have a girlfriend in Krasnodar, I will go to her, I will work.


Svetlana did not want to communicate with us, her daughter remained behind the front line, and she is afraid that the interview might somehow harm her. Reasonable concerns. We agreed that I would put her in front of the window, I would only shoot from the back. We were closely watched by her two red cats. These are the cats that survived. Animals are still in shock, people are afraid, what can we say about my interlocutor, who burst into tears by the end of the interview. Svetlana told how she extinguished her house during shelling and there was no way out. If it doesn’t put out, there won’t be a basement, nowhere to hide.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

– We had Ukrainians sitting on the second floor, of course, they were shot at in response. We did not communicate with them, as they did with us. They piled their wounded and dead in the house. Everything was covered in blood, they were screaming terribly.

We didn’t even notice how they escaped. And then we hear people shouting from the street: “Come out one at a time, raise your hands, take your documents with you.” I asked: “Who are you?” And they said: “Russians.” I didn’t believe it, I even asked again.

– How did you get out of the firing zone?

– We were stretched into a chain, ran through the destroyed houses, and the guys, the “Wagnerites” carried my cats … The cats were in stress, I barely caught them, put them in carriers and managed to take one bag. And almost all the documents burned down – both for the apartment and the work book.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Svetlana does not really want to tell this story, she says: “I didn’t see it myself, a relative saw it.” I convince her that it is necessary, this is important, and the woman says:

– Approximately a month ago, some correspondents came and filmed a fraudulent video, so it turns out. We had a naked woman running down the street and shouting “rape!”. In fact, not naked, but in such a skin-tight skin-colored suit. And it seems like a Russian soldier is chasing her, and the woman is shouting – “save me!”. And then they run with the camera. This is from the words of my relative, I trust her. There weren’t even Russians in the city then, we had Ukraine then walking in full growth, walking and driving.

Svetlana asks herself, how is it possible to film something like that?

I tell her that everything has already been filmed, soon Artemovsk will be taken and we will immediately see a Ukrainian “documentary” film about Russian atrocities on all Western channels. But for us, her story has already spoiled the whole plan of these “documentary”.


Armed Forces warm-up before the offensive? Donetsk covered, burned bus with people

Military correspondent of KP.RU Dmitry Steshin: Shells rained down on the capital of the DPR in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time (more)

“Here, at the forefront, everything is simpler and more honest”: a battalion chief medical officer who has been fighting since 2014, about military fraternity and women in the NVO zone

Surgeons and journalists do not like to operate and interview loved ones, but on the eve of March 8, KP.RU military commissar Dmitry Steshin had to make an exception (more)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *