The evacuees from Azovstal tells about life in the basement

We were too afraid to be silent. When you hear gunshots all the time, you know where it came from, and when silence reigns, there is always a mine or a bomb after it – says 24-year-old Hanna, who was evacuated from Azovstal, where she was accompanied by a child of several months.

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I published an interview with Hanna on Wednesday Ukrinform Agency. Together with her husband and son, the woman ended up in the underground shelters of the Azovstal Metallurgical Plant at the end of February. They then thought that they would spend several days there waiting for the Russian army to attack Mariupol.

– The hardest thing was in the morning when you wake up and You realize you’re back in reality, this isn’t a dream – Hanna tells of two months he spent in factories under fire. Her son gave her strength – and not only. “People in the bunker called him an angel and said that if we got out of here, it would be because of him. He was so cheerful and made everyone laugh — he said. When they got to the bunker, Mały Swiatosław was about four months old, when they left at 30 April – about six.

There were 75 people in the Hanna shelter, including 17 children. A woman is surprised that someone may have doubts about how he knows this number accurately. He says that such suspicions are spread on the Internet by Russian botnets. When you live with others for two months, you know everything: what are the habits of some people, who are their relatives, what is their favorite song. And I know exactly about children, because we share food – separately for children and adults (…) The kids were special – He explains.

Humanitarian corridors come under fire

From Hanna’s story a picture emerges of life organized by refugees in the Azovstal basement. The water was brought from the supplies that were available on site – the stations were supplied with water free of charge for the employees. Every time getting water was risky. Food was cooked in metal cups. – We set the schedule at once, so that everything would be fair, so that some people would risk their lives and bring water and cook food, and others would sit and have fun – says the woman.

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Most of the time people spend in the dark with candles or lamps. They were sitting in a damp room. The toilet was on the first floor. Get out of there – Then you can see the sun and breathe the fresh air – It was also risky.

The pro-Russian population appeared through the hole in the fence

Since the beginning of March, the Hanna family has tried to get out of the facilities, but – as she remembers – the humanitarian corridors have come under fire. In the middle of the month the bombing escalated. In early April, the military defending the factories said the situation was bad. – They said they would do anything to save us. They began to make a movie about us, about the fact that we must save, because we are civilians, and that there are a lot of us and we have to do something with us – says Hanna. Subsequently She was among the first group of evacuees, along with other women with children.

He talks about the various evacuation attempts. – When we left the hall (…) they saw us from the drone And the Russian soldiers threw a mine right at our door. Four of our soldiers were wounded. We tried to go upstairs several times, we even thought it might be a mistake, but no. As soon as someone left the bunker, the drone responded – they sent us a mine – he recalls.

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Hanna mentions this on March 30 All day shooting stop. – On that day, some pro-Russian left alone through a hole in the fence. (…) There were many workers who knew Azovstal well. Later, many of these people Reveal all the nicknames, all our attitudes – He says. He says he can’t believe how you can be so mean with Ukrainian soldiers who fed civilians and sneak under fire to places where they can text their relatives.

‘We owe them our lives’

Hanna left the bunker on April 30 in the evening. She talks about the shock she experienced when it turned out The Red Cross did not take the civilians away, but the Russian soldiers and evacuees must face them head-on. Joy was mixed with fear and not knowing where they would take us, he says. In Bizmini, civilians were going through the Russian “candidate”: in the first tent, they ordered us to take off our clothes. Choose skinny women. They thought we could be soldiers (…). They took off everything, including underwear, and looked for tattoos and scars – says Hanna. The Russians asked her where she got the medal with Trisup, the symbol of Ukraine, from. In the second tent, the Russian army was browsing on a computer all the contents of mobile phones received by civilians: photos (including deleted photos), contacts and text messages. They scanned passports. They questioned the people and asked about military relations. – If there is psychological pressure started. They said we’d better tell them everything. Something like the KGB – remembers Hanna.

After filtering, I kept it a medal with tryzub, as well as matches with a drawing of Kozak and the Ukrainian national flag, which I hid. – Then I found out that through such a box they arrested my friend’s son while he was undergoing liquidation – he adds.

Hanna hopes that the Azovstal soldiers will be saved, for example, thanks to their extradition by a third country, which does not require the consent of Russia. – We owe them our lives: me, my family and all of Ukraine – says in an interview.

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