3 friends from Lugansk

Fra valglokale i Øst Ukraina, med soldater som passer på.

When I got married for a week, one of my wife’s best friends was missing. Valentina her other friend from Lugansk was in our wedding. Actually, I could call this story of «the war as split» or «where is Inna». But I chose to use the title 3 friends from Lugansk.

It was a week since I and Lesya married us. Lesya is from Khrakiv, but she lived for a while in Lugansk. She was 18-19 years old and wanted to leave. Therefore, she traveled to Lugansk where she studied. In Lugansk she met two girls who have been her friends all the time. In our wedding there was one there, it was Valentina. But Inna was not there, where did she go and what happened?

Valentina is a girl who is almost sick of health. She does not eat anything unhealthy, drinks nothing but water and juce. Of course, she has to push herself. Jogging and stay in the gym are two important activities for her. I know Valtentina well through her friendship with Lesya. Valentina often visits us. She talks little about her upbringing. But Lesya told me she had a hard and tough upbringing in a village in Lugansk. Perhaps it was that she left the village to live in Lugansk.

She lived there until the war. Valentina would vote no for the badly camouflaged fictional peoples vote on detachment from Ukraine and the conception of «New Russia». Valentina is Ukrainians, speaking Russian like most of them here. But is Ukrainian. She entered the polling room on the day of voting, but turned without having voted no. The reason was that she felt unsure. Guards with rifles. Besides, they could see what each one voted. She went. The war broke out and Valentina managed to flee to Lutsk in western Ukraine. Now she lives in Khrakiv and partly in Kyiv. Her job is such that she commutes a bit between Kyiv and Khrakiv.

I have never met Inna. The reason is that my wife Lesya traveled back to Khrakiv before the conflict began. That’s when I met Lesya. Therefore, all I write about Inna is what I know through my wife and Valentina. Inna is Russian. She counted on ethnic Russians. The family came from Russia during the period many Russians traveled to Donbas. Lesya talked to Inna over phone and email in the spring and summer of 2014. Poor Inna, a year beforehand, she had to marry. But she found her husband in bed with one of her best friends. In other words, she lost both her adorable husband and one of her best friends at the same time. Then came the war on top of this.

In the summer 2014, Inna and her parents managed to escape to Russia. It took a week or two without Lesya hearing anything from Inna. But then one day she got a text message, she was in safety a place in Russia. Inna was really determined never to find a man again. After what had happened, she did not trust any man, at least not Russian or Ukrainian man. But Valentina tells that Inna started writing with a man from western Europe on a dating page. It was just before the war began. Obviously it was impossible for them to meet for a while, but they kept in touch with each other.

The little family moved back to Lugansk. Still, Inna wrote that it was uneasy and once she wrote that this could not continue anymore. Something had to happen. Valentina says that Inna told her on the phone this winter that the situation was very difficult. A little food in the shops and everything was extremely expensive. They obviously lacked money. She told her that she would soon meet her friend as she hit the dating site in Russia. Yes, it was easiest for them to meet each other in Russia. Lesya received the last letter from Inna December 17, 2016. Then she was depressed and sad. After this, neither Lesya nor Valentina heard or seen anything to Inna. Attempts to reach the parents have also been done without success.

That’s why our wedding was not just one day we looked forward to. But also a day of reflection. Where was Inna? Did she live? Why does she not write? Did she meet the man from western Europe and who was he? This is not the story of right and wrong. But the story of 3 friends who were divided by the war. 3 friends with different starting points, but who remained friends despite the inequalities.