«

»

Sep 29

Ugg quilted boots

Children clamber over the military vehicles. Two girls atop a tracked IFV are holding each other, one of them raises an arm up in the air as if in victory. The other is wearing a pale blue quilted jacket.The woman nods to the girl in blue and lowers her voice, ”She’s eight years old and has no parents. Her mother was a sniper and got killed. She’s never had a father.”The eight-year-old climbs down off the IFV and walks over to one of the weapon tables. A soldier helps her to test a Steyr with a telescopic sight – an expensive Austrian sniper rifle used by some of the more fastidious soldiers in the Russian special forces. Other children, who have also lost their parents in the war, are holding grenade launchers and pistols.

It is Russian public holiday; they are celebrating the start of the Red Army in 1918. This public holiday used to be celebrated throughout Ukraine, but this year it is only being celebrated in the self-proclaimed republics.West of the front, they have torn down the Lenin statues and cancelled the public holiday.In a press release from the City Hall they declared that there will be major celebrations and a parade through the city, but the only official celebration is the one in this courtyard, which is being guarded by men wearing helmets and holding assault rifles.

I turn to the rotund woman, ”Why do you love Putin?”She raises her arms and throws back her head as if it is a stupid question.”Ukraine is all terrorists and fascists. What would we have done without Putin?””Why is Ukraine all terrorists and fascists?” I wonder and move closer.”I saw Ukrainian soldiers shoot people, normal people, in the middle of a residential area. I saw it from my apartment. I went out and tried to put a stop to it, but I was taken as a prisoner of war. The Ukrainian army held me in the woods for a month.”The woman shoves both hands into her pockets and hunches her shoulders.