Ukraine War Day #335: Soledar Survivors Speak Out

Dear Readers:

Today I have this post from the RIA news agency, the reporter is David Narmania.

Readers will recall that, a week or so ago, the Donbass town of Soledar was officially declared “Liberated” by the Russian army. It was one of those cases, so typically sad in this war, where, to paraphrase American military commanders during the Vietnam war, “the town had to be destroyed in order to be saved.” In a word, artillery duels between Russians and Ukrainians have destroyed the town. That, plus, Ukrainians being wantonly destructive and wasting precious ammo just to get even with incalcitrant and disloyal locals; as is their wont.

Despite the destruction, and the fact that civilians were supposed to evacuate, some stayed in their homes. As some always do. This is their story. How they survived the ordeal, and how they greeted the incoming Russian troops.

The Ukrainians, to their credit, did urge the civilians to evacuate while the town was in play. But unlike the Russians, who allow people to go wherever they please when evacuating, be it to Russia or deeper into Ukrainian territory, the Ukrainians only allow civilians to go to Ukraine-controlled territory. Which can present an issue for people who (a) don’t have relatives in those parts, or (b) don’t speak the local dialect; or (c) don’t want to be conscripted into the Ukrainian army (males up to the age of 65). It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t: Those Donbass residents who refused to evacuate, the Ukrainians deem as “pro-Russian”, or “collaborators” to their way of thinking, and then feel justified in harming them or just wantonly shelling their homes for fun and games.

Oleg Yamnenko

Local resident Angelica Yeremina: “This whole thing started in earnest back in July. But even before then, the Ukrainians had a bad habit of shooting up our homes. And they didn’t particularly try to hide what they were doing. They would shoot a house, then come up all innocent to mock us: Oh look! A hole in your wall, what a shame! And we were aiming for the boiler room. Sorry about that!”

[yalensis: My best guess. I think these Ukrainian soldiers were mocking the pro-Russian residents and making a vengeful political point; alluding to the Russian practice of targeting infrastructure, including “boilers” and heating facilities, as part of their attempt to shut down Ukrainian logistics.]

A portion of the residents had evacuated already back in spring. Those who remained were dubbed “collaborators” by the Ukrainians. Soledar resident Oleg Yamnenko: “Seeing that we didn’t want to leave, the Ukrainian soldiers would say threatening things to us: What? You are waiting for the Russian Civilization to arrive? Fine, that’s what you’ll get. They implemented a curfew. Then they would roam around the streets, patrolling for so-called artillery spotters [for the Russians]. For example one night, around midnight, they caught and beat up two guys who were trying to return to their flats after living in a basement for a while. The ideological Ukrainians behaved very crudely. The ones who were just drafted into the army, were much nicer.”

The local residents were warned that, when the Russians arrived, they would kill and rape everybody. [The residents just shrugged and didn’t listen.]

A Wasteland

There are no intact homes left in Soledar. Every home was turned into a fortress, and was stormed. This due to Soledar’s strategic position as a transport hub supplying Artyomovsk via the massive railroad station complex called Sol’ (“Salt”). Which was taken by the Russians on January 18.

Even in Sol’ there were civilians hiding out. And they were, indeed, just like the Ukrainians knew, waiting expectantly for the Russian army to arrive.

Alexandra Kitsa

Alexandra Kitsa, a resident of Sol’: “We even greeted the New Year in Russian style: at 11:00 PM we sat in front of the television and watched Putin’s New Year address to the nation.

“The Russian troops entered our village a week ago. And the first thing they did was to try to remove people who were trapped by the artillery shelling going on. They provided first aid to the wounded, and shared their army rations with the hungry.”

When she saw the Russian soldiers, Alexandra rushed out to greet them, wearing just a light jacket in the cold weather. A soldier immediately wrapped her up in his heavy army jacket. Guided by the soldiers, the residents then proceeded to make short dashes, under artillery fire, from cover to cover. “We were almost there, there was literally 5 meters to go to the next cover, when we were blanketed with shells. I heard someone shout out a command: Get down! I was down on the ground immediately, a soldier quickly covered me with his own body. One of the soldiers didn’t make it, he was killed by a fragment.”

The soldier who had covered Alexandra with his own body – to show her gratitude Alexandra gave him a bracelet which she had once purchased in the gift shop in the Kiev-Pecherskaya Lavra Monastery. “This will protect you.” The soldier accepted the gift and gave her, in return, one of the patches from his jacket.

“We Made Our Choice”

Those residents who were evacuated out of Soledar are currently residing in a temporary refuge. There are almost no men among them. The grown men have been taken away for questioning by the Russians, who want to make sure there are no sneaky “SBU diversionaries” among them. [yalensis: This sounds harsh, but Russia has had her share of Ukrainian terrorists posing as refugees and then planting car bombs or killing people in the rear, so they have to be cautious; although, if it were me, I wouldn’t trust some of the women either, given the Darya Dugina assassination.]

Soledar refugees register at the temporary shelter.

Elena Panchenko is a former resident of Soledar: “I can’t get in touch with my husband or son. It’s not fair, because we made our choice back in 2014, when we voted in the referendum for the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Why would they even think we would have anything to do with the Ukrainian military?” She spreads her hands to show the absurdity of it.

Elena says that she worked for many years at the salt factory “Artemsol”. Her husband worked there too. Their son works as an electrician at the railroad station. His job was to fix the rails after each shelling, a very dangerous occupation. Elena’s only wish is to be reunited with her family as soon as possible and return to their town, and a normal peaceful life. “I just want this to be over.”

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20 Responses to Ukraine War Day #335: Soledar Survivors Speak Out

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    According to the German Angela Merkel and the French Hollande all this suffering, destruction and death is the result of an operation to destroy Russia prepared by the West.

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    • peter moritz says:

      You are so wrong.
      What NATO did, is what it always does. It is the saviour who frees the opressed by bringing democracy (even if the means are maybe not quite so democratic, but you know, the end justifies whatever means were taken), by pushing back the evil Russians who always are out to disrupt the plans of the always benevolent West who always just wants to bring civilization to the Slavic Untermensch; who needs to be enlightened in order to harvest the benefits of a superior, nay, a vastly superior, Western culture will bestow on him once he has discarded his wrong Slavic nonculture.
      I can see that you are also one of those who engage in wrongthink, not to be able to see the light of knowledge and wisdom THE WEST wants to bring to all of those who are still wallowing in the pit of ignorance, not able to see the shining city on the hill called NATOLAND. Shame on you.

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      • yalensis says:

        So true. It’s all about the struggle between Democracy and Authoritarianism. Once NATO has expanded its power over the entire world, then the world will consist of an enlightened union of free, sovereign nations. Nobody will have any money or a job or a home, but they’ll be free at least.

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  2. Dou Gen says:

    Does the name Soledar have something to do with salt? What does the name mean? BTW, English sal- is said to go back to Proto-IE *sal. The -a- remains in Latin Sa(macron)l. Is there a rule that proto-IE -a- changes to Slavic -o-?

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    • the pair says:

      “gift of salt” if i recall correctly. salt mines and such. i think it might be the place with the giant cache of WWII weapons in the actual mines.

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    • yalensis says:

      Hey, Dou. “the pair” got it right in below comment, Sole-dar means literally “gift of salt” in Russian/Slavic. This is an area possessing huge salt mines.

      The Russian word for salt is /sol’/ (with a soft L at the end), descending from Proto-Slavic *solis.
      Now, that is a very interesting question why the PIE vowel -a- changed to -o- in this particular word. It’s not a general rule for /a/ changing to /o/ in Slavic. In fact, generally Slavic preserves the original set of IE core vowels pretty well, the standard set of {a,e,i.o,u}. So this word is a bit of a mystery why the /a/ turned into an /o/, there is no reason I can think of why the modern Russian word wouldn’t be /sal’/. Any specialists out there? Maybe somebody knows the answer, or has read a theory….

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      • Hugo Angel says:

        The german word for salt is Salz, but salty water (high concentration) in salt mines is called Sole. There are salt baths named Solbad in Hall (Tirol, Austria). The name Hall dates back to the Celtic epoch, hall meaning salt.

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        • yalensis says:

          Fascinating! Thanks, Hugo. I wonder if the change in vowel could be an example of Ablaut , which you see in some Indo-European roots. It’s particularly prominent in the Germanic languages, the classic example being the verb sing/sang/sung.

          Or not. I’m just not sure, since we are talking about a noun here.

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        • Dou Gen says:

          Interesting. The American Heritage Dictionary index of PIE forms gives, under *sal, the form *halo from Greek /hal-/, salt, sea. Would that also be a Celtic influence?

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          • yalensis says:

            If I remember my comparative I-E phonology class:

            In ancient Greek, the initial I-E sibiliant /s/ phoneme morphs into a /h/. The classic example is the word for “sleep”. In Proto-IE it is something like *supnos, which gives the current Russian word /son/, where Slavic simplified the consonant cluster /pn/ to just plain /n/.

            However, in ancient Greek the initial /s/ morphs into /h/ which gives /hypnos/ as in the English borrowed word “hypnotism”. The theory is that certain ancient Greek tribes (maybe with an influx of foreigners messing up the pure accent) could not pronounce an initial s-, so it morphed to something like a hissing hs- and then eventually just a breathy h- sound, probably an explosive like when you exclaim “ha!”
            Whether this might be a Celtic influence I know not. All I know is that phonological changes in various languages usually occur when people mix it up (intermarry, etc.) and some adults learn the tongue but speaking with a distinct foreign accent, and their children learn that accented way of speaking, and then the accent becomes the norm! That’s how it happens.

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      • Dou Gen says:

        Thanks very much to you and to the pair for your gift of knowledge about beautiful Russian place names. Is there also a place named “gift of knowledge”?

        Regarding cognates of /dar-/, I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to refer to examples given by proponents of the Nostratic hypothesis of a single large Ur-family of largely northern Asiatic steppe languages that later became PIE, proto-Altaic, Proto-Uralic, proto-Dravidian, etc. The Nostratic hypothesis was developed by Vladislav Illich-Svitych (born in Kiev) and deepened by other Russian linguists, such as Sergei Starostin, who unfortunately died of a heart attack in 2005. He and his colleagues created an database of Nostratic forms that can be viewed and used at:
        https://starlingdb.org/texts_new.php?lan=en
        All you have to do is click on Etymology at upper left and then on All Databases to access the databases in either English or Russian. There is a sophisticated search function.

        Since Russian /dar/ is such an attractive word, I thought about it for a while and soon remembered Japanese /yar-/, to give, send, do, which goes back to proto-Japanese *dar-, with the same meaning. I’m not a linguist but a scholar of premodern Japanese literature, so I have a rather romantic view of language history, but even for me this match seemed too good to be true, so I checked the above database. It told me that the proto-Japanese form goes back to a proto-Altaic form (I can’t get ips characters here) *jiora (including Mongolian *jaru, Tungus * jori, and Korean *charhi), and Proto-South Dravidian *ta-r (Tamil *taru). The PIE form is *do[macron]-, with Slavic *datja for “gift.” The database also gives a “Eurasiatic” form *dwV[H]V. That’s a lot to chew on, but I do think it’s safe to say that the “mystical” word/concept /dar/ has some complex and possibly distant relatives. Does this mean that the idea of the earth as a divine giver of precious treasures was common to many of the speakers in all the languages implied by these reconstructed forms? Is/was this an Asia-wide or even global spiritual approach to the earth?

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        • yalensis says:

          “Gift of Knowledge” – that would be a wonderful name for a University town! In Russian it would be something like Umo-dar or maybe Vedi-dar, something like that.

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          • Dou Gen says:

            I’ll remember those names. If a Japanese person happens to ask me ab out naming a new college or university town, I’ll mention them. Japanese tend to like foreign names, and there’s little Russophobia among ordinary people. Only the US-dominated government and the MSM are rather loony these days.

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            • yalensis says:

              Slavic languages have several roots meaning “knowledge”, “wisdom”, “mind”, “smart”, etc. All of them descended from the pro-language, well maybe except for later borrowings like “intellectual” (Russian Intelligent), those later words borrowed from French, of course.
              For example Russian has the word /um/ meaning “mind”, descended from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ew-m-o-, a derivation of *h₂ew- (“to see, perceive”). Cognate with Lithuanian aumuõ (“mind”) and indirectly Ancient Greek αἰσθάνομαι (aisthánomai, “to perceive”), Sanskrit आविस् (āvís, “openly, manifestly, evidently”), Latin audiō, and Hittite 𒌋𒀪𒄭 (u-uḫ-ḫi, “I see”).
              Then there is Old Church Slavonic /ved/ or /viad/ meaning knowledge or wisdom, which is the exact same word as the Sanskrit “veda” or English “witch”. In modern Russian it’s just an interjection /ved’/ “you see”, “after all”, but can be found in fancier compound words like “literaturo-ved” (somebody who specializes in literature).
              Then there is the Russian word /znanie/ (knowledge), I think this word exists in all the Slavic languages, and is a direct cousin of the Greek “gnostic” from PIE root *gno- “to know.”

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        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – thanks for that info on the Nostratic hypothesis and the links. I had not studied that, but this is fascinating stuff. The most fundamental semantic concepts like “gift” or “water”, that sort of thing, those words give the best chances of tracing back farther into the misty past.
          People should just be aware that sometimes, like you say, something can be “too good to be true”, like when two completely different language groups have exactly the same word for the same thing. The laws of statistics and chance have to be taken into account. Nonetheless, that Japanese example is quite intriguing!

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          • Dao Gen says:

            Yes, I think Japanese, Korean, and Dravidian need to be studied in much more detail than they have been by Nostratic proponents. Being the farthest away from the centuries of wars and migrations on the steppes, these peripheral areas might preserve rather old forms. That’s why I think the South Dravidian example is just as important as the Japanese one. There are quite a lot of look-alikes between proto-Dravidian and proto-Japonica and Middle Korean as well. In the 1980s a couple of very famous Japanese philologists claimed that an armada of boats had brought countless Tamils from southern India all the way to Japan, thereby profoundly influencing the the ancient Japanese language. Neither of these scholars had ever heard of the comparative method, and there are no linguistic or historical traces of Tamil left in China or SE Asia, so the whole theory was soon discredited, but nevertheless there may be many cognates shared by Dravidian and Japanese/Korean, but via the Nostratic route. This is all so unlikely, almost, that not much comparative work has done on connecting one periphery to another, though some young Russian linguists are no doubt doing some good work in this area . BTW, there is a really nice Dravidian Etymological Dictionary from Oxford UP edited by a British linguist named Tomas Burrow and an American linguist at Berkeley named Murray Emeneau. It is very logically organized and the result of thorough research even on Dravidian languages with no written traditions, so even a complete outsider like me can look through it and find many things of great interest. If you ever want to relax for a while, just take a pleasant stroll through that palm-shaded dictionary. If I can remember which box my own copy is stored in, I might be able to find some examples that throw interesting light on /dar/. If I do, I’ll let you know. I hope Putin, Xi, and Modi will suddenly see the light and found a Belt and Road Nostratic Research Center. I believe I read somewhere that Sino-Tibetan was also distantly related to Nostratic. I also hope linguists will realize that their research has the power to help heighten feelings of brotherhood and sisterhood between most or all Eurasian peoples and to send all ultranationalists straight back to the playpen.

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  3. the pair says:

    touching stuff. also makes it more sickening when the MSM celebrates the depravity of the azov types “wiping out the orcs”. wouldn’t be surprised if the NYT “leaked” from an “unnamed official” that the kitsa lady was an “oligarch” who poisoned journalists.

    the “don’t trust women” thing reminds me of a funny event here in canadia: during the “trucker” convoy “protests” a group at the shared US border hoarded a bunch of guns and armor and etc. with plans to start shooting cops. they got caught because they talked to undercover female RCMP (mounties) and thought “derp they’re just girls they aren’t any threat”. cue the “womp womp waaaaaaaaaaah” trumpet.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/coutts-blockade-charges-court-documents-unsealed-itos-1.6565837

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