Story from the occupied Tokmak:
Occupation. Leaving town. Freedom.
“A bag of dog food, which in Ukraine usually costs 450 UAH, cost 4 thousand UAH there”
This is the story of Yulia (name changed for safety reasons), who managed to break free from the grips of the occupiers from the temporarily occupied Tokmak. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to leave. This town has been occupied by russians since March 1.
Even in difficult conditions, Yulia tried to help the animals in the town. With tears in her eyes, Yulia tells about life under occupation, humanitarian assistance, and the russian’s treatment of people and animals. Please read her interview below.
The war affected every Ukrainian but in different ways. You have witnessed invasion and occupation. Can you tell me about it?
Occupation is very scary. It is so scary that I am ready to shout to the whole world about how this is happening. Yesterday you had a peaceful life, and today you, a woman, are driving your little car, and you are stopped by a tank that moves its barrel to your window. We had a very nice town: lawns were planted with roses. And russian tanks just ride on those roses, destroying everything.
How did you get out of town?
From Tokmak to Zaporizhzhia, you could previously drive in 1 hour. We were very lucky, and we got there in 7 hours. And our people stood in line for 3-4 days. Some – for 2 weeks. Just imagine, they lived in cars somewhere in forests for 14 days! This is a hellish way. Nowadays getting out of town is almost impossible.
What is the overall situation in Tokmak? How do the occupiers treat the locals?
I know a lot of horror stories from people I know. The agronomist came to the land plot to cultivate the land, he clarified by phone with his manager whether he had come to the right place. When he turned, he saw an armored personnel carrier in front of him. The russians knocked him down, put a bag on his head, and beat him. They tortured him with electricity, cut his ears. He was accused of transmitting their coordinates. Men who endured such tortures said that if they got into such a situation again, they would not survive.
How do people survive there?
Psychologically, it is very difficult to live under occupation, and financially too – prices are 4 times higher. A bag of dog food, which in Ukraine usually costs 450 UAH, cost 4 thousand UAH in occupied Tokmak. Then the price dropped to 2.5 thousand, but still, it's a horror! I have no idea how humans and animals survive there.
What is the situation with animals?
Almost every family leaves the town with animals. In Tokmak, we met people from Mariupol, settled them in kindergartens, schools, and took them to our own homes. Animals were often lost in unfamiliar territory. People from Tokmak were not indifferent, they took them home.
When I met friends in Zaporizhzhia, I saw an old couple, about 80 years old, immigrants from Mariupol. The man held a pigeon in his hands. He was interviewed and said something like this: “I had a dovecote, tamed pigeons. During the shelling of Mariupol, I released them all so that they would be saved, they would not die. But I took one pigeon, a dear friend, with me.”
At the end of the conversation, Yulia says with regret and care in her voice:
“I want to appeal to everyone: if you have a furry friend, do not leave him or her behind! Because the russians are killing everyone: people, cats, dogs.”
We trust in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and hope that Tomak and other cities and villages will soon be under Ukraine's control again, and people and animals will not suffer because of russian invaders and murderers.
We ask everyone to help those who flee with their pet to safer areas. Sometimes, even a word of advice or support can be helpful and can positively impact someone's life. We also encourage you to support UPAW. With your contributions, we can save the tailed hostages of war. Let's take care of the most vulnerable together!