You are sending your children to their deaths

Lydia Gorb is a retired engineer and labor veteran from Krivoy Rog. She spent the first six months of the war in her hometown, volunteering to help soldiers of the military. In September, after her daughter persuaded her to leave for Bulgaria, where she continues to take an active part in actions to support Ukraine and help the Ukrainian Armed Forces to the best of her ability. How she remembers the USSR and how her attitude toward Russians and the Russian language has changed, Lydia Gorb tells in the new issue of Eyewitnesses.

Tell us about yourself.

- My name is Lydia Gorb. I am from the city of Krivoy Rog, retired, I am 74 years old. I worked as an energy engineer at Krivorozhstal, which is the production of pig iron and steel, in auxiliary energy shops: oxygen supply, air supply, fuel oil, electricity, water, steam, and all-around. I have 45 years of service, I am a labor veteran.

How did the war begin for you?

- We live in an area that is very close to the military range, and on February 24, the first rockets came to us. Fortunately, no one was killed: eight rockets were dropped on the ammunition depot, which was not there. It was very disturbing. Two planes flew over, very low over the houses. I was very surprised, there was a terrible rumble, and then immediately I heard explosions. I realized that it was war. My grandson was just on his way to the garage to get his car, and these rockets were flying right over him. The first time we had a threat of attack from Ingults, there were already columns coming from there. but thank God, our troops bombed and destroyed them. I know that there was a lot of fighting in the area of Apostolov and Kakhovka, the front went there. The Russians started purposefully destroying everything, just bombing. And all these checkpoints at the beginning of the war, which immediately began to grow like mushrooms. Our people were supplied with everything: they were not yet in the army - no uniforms, nothing. We clothed them, we fed them: whatever we could: wadded pants, jackets, 4-bucket pots, food. We wrote to the groups: "What do you need?", we were approached, and we responded immediately. I called all my friends and said: "The guys need potatoes.

How has your attitude toward Russians changed?

- At the beginning of the war there was misunderstanding of everything that was going on, there was horror. I wanted it to be as if people had fought and then made peace afterwards. I didn't want any casualties either on the Russian or Ukrainian side. I wanted it to be over as soon as possible. Throughout the year it grew like a snowball. We realized that it wouldn't end quickly. And after the atrocities in Mariupol, after what they did in Ukraine, there is no misunderstanding anymore, now there is just hatred. When they bombed the Karachunovskoye reservoir - 112 houses were demolished. All the good that was there is already extinguished. Because it's impossible to treat this with loyalty or understanding, the human mind simply cannot comprehend it. How can you do this? How is it possible to wage war in such a way? There are normal people in Russia too, and they go on strike, but they are not allowed to go out - they are immediately taken to prisons. And this is called "freedom of speech"?

What is your relationship with your relatives from Russia?

- When the war started, I tried to explain to them that it was tantamount to your neighbors coming to kill your children. And they said to me, "What are you talking about? The propaganda has zombified them so much that they don't understand it. Maybe they don't understand it because they live very far away, beyond Lake Baikal, and these events don't reach them? If Skabeeva had any brains, she would have tried to explain to the women from the screen that they are sending their children to their certain death. And how many of their children are left in the ground to be written off as missing so they don't have to pay their families any money? The state benefits, Russia spends billions on missiles, drones and maintaining such a huge army. And this hinterland sits under the Kagans, as we think, by candlelight.

Have you noticed the oppression of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Western Ukraine?

- It never happened. Never. Every year I go to Schidnitz. I accidentally switched to Ukrainian. The springs there are very good. Drogobych, Skhidnytsya are famous resorts, I used to rest there all the time and there were a lot of Russians. There was nothing like that. There was no hostility whatsoever. That Khokhol and that katsap, as the people say. There was never even a conversation that it was some other nation. We believed that we were one people. In our Dnipropetrovsk region we have surzhik, as we call it - Russian-Ukrainian. We had more Russian classes than Ukrainian, it was all somehow oppressed. At this stage of my life I believe that we should have our own state language. After that, we shouldn't have a Russian language at all.

Regret over the collapse of the Soviet Union is built into Russian propaganda. What do you remember of the Soviet Union?

- I remember the Soviet Union as a total shortage: there was nothing at all, you had to stand in line 24 hours a day everywhere. To buy furniture, you had to stand for two or three days. You had to go to Moscow for oranges. I had to go to Siberia, to other cities in Russia, and I saw some remote places where people were very poor even then, in the Soviet Union, and I think it is even worse now. So I am in no way sorry. If they had made all the republics on an equal footing, as in the European Union, I think the Union would not have collapsed. They would have given each country freedom, the ability to solve their problems on their own and help each other, like the EU does now. That's the kind of union I would accept.

How are your relatives in Krivoy Rog now?

- From bombing to bombing. The Russians are tagging substations, tagging interchanges. I don't know how they know everything, maybe it's the collaborators. We have both underground and above-ground electric transport: streetcars, trolleybuses. So when everything stops, of course, the crews quickly fix the problem, but at that time the city is dark, and how do people live? The first time it happened, I watched as people rallied. When I was standing at bus stops, people would pull up in their cars and ask: "Where are you going? I'm going to such and such an area. Who wants to go? Get in." Nobody drove past if there was an empty car. Everyone stayed there: both my husband and my daughter, my granddaughter lives and studies in Lviv. My grandson and son-in-law are at war. Of course, I am worried. My grandson told me not to call, so I am very worried.

Why did you leave Ukraine?

- First of all, at my daughter's insistence, and then I thought that after my heart surgery, if another couple of planes flew over me like that one time, it might be the last thing I would see. So I decided to leave. I don't regret it. Bulgaria was well received, there are very good volunteers here too, they take care of us.

Is there a misunderstanding between Ukrainians who stayed in their country and those who emigrated?

- It happens that way. It happened to some of my girlfriends. They would say, "Well, you left, but we're not leaving, it's like a betrayal. I tried, and I succeeded, to explain to them that if God forbid the Rashists come here, you would only be a nuisance, not a help, because it's convenient to fight where the peaceful population, behind which the Rashists are hiding, is. That if you weren't here, it would be much easier for our army to knock them out. I still believe that those who sit in cellars with small children are just preventing our army from going on the offensive. And you also didn't think about the fact that the supply situation is bad, that you need to be fed, and someone is doing it. You're distracting people from the war.

What are you doing for Ukraine's victory while in exile?

- We will not go into open combat, but we can help the army, I think. Now we knit socks and have already made 120 pairs, one of these days we will send them to those areas and regions where it is still cold and they need them. After all, people need to sleep for a while, and they sleep in sleeping bags, and I think warm socks will keep them warm. We have a choir that has already been registered by the mayor of Varna. We sang "God save Ukraine, have mercy on the sinners", we sing patriotic songs "Hey, falcons", "Chervona kalina" and folk songs. Only in Ukrainian. We will never sing in Russian. Some people start with "Here Someone is descending from a hill", but they see that others do not sing, and shut up. At least we used to sing Russian songs about Odessa, but now we don't sing those songs either. It's just a matter of principle, everyone has come to that.

Why then did you agree to give this interview in Russian?

- I am very well disposed toward you. And in order to get our message across, I knew that I would be speaking in Russian. I understand that the Ukrainian language is not so popular in the world as the Russian one. That's why I'm not complexed about it now.

What would you wish for Ukrainians?

- I wish Ukrainians peace and patience. Victory will surely come, victory will be fair, and it will be only the victory of Ukraine. We are not interested in anything else. Now we have the sea and everything else, but if you said that the war is over, and offered to stay for a season by the sea, I'm sure no one would agree, because we are not here for that, but to wait it out and come back to help each other to rebuild everything. The main thing is patience and faith.

What would you wish for the Russians?

- To the Russians I would say that these are wasted sacrifices, that they are being used as human shields and sent to the slaughter. If they haven't figured that out yet, I think they will. Three generations hated the Germans, the same is waiting for them. For a mother to lose a child is the greatest grief, and they killed a lot of peaceful people, children, and it's still not over. Therefore, the Russians need to turn on their brains. It's better to sit in jail than to go on a killing spree. They don't understand that yet.

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