Estonian former resident of Izyum: I have no intention of going back

Kalev Eesalu on Tuesday's 'Ringvaade'.
Kalev Eesalu on Tuesday's 'Ringvaade'. Source: ERR

Estonian Kalev Eesalu, who lived in in southeastern Ukraine for several decades, says that he has no intention of returning there, since the war and the situation in the city causes him great sadness.

Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Tuesday, Eesalu related how in early March he had been forced to relocate to the basement of the apartment building which he lived in, together with his family and other residents, as Russian shells started falling.

Since the house was so badly damaged by the shelling that the basement did not provide adequate shelter from the cold, he then moved on to the basement of another house after a few days, where they stayed there for a week, later moving to live in their garage with his wife and their son and daughter.

"There were a lot of houses in Izyum which had collapsed, leaving people trapped in basements," he said.

After the city was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in September, mass graves had to be dealt with, which Eesalu's son went to help with in the re-interring work.

"Mass graves had to be put in place there because those people who died were simply buried in yards so that they wouldn't be left there. While it was cold, a hole half-a-meter in depth was dug and bodies were interred there, hence why they had to be reburied, and for this reason these mass graves emerged," he said.

"My son went to deal with it. He was assigned to the brigade that buried them. They didn't dig the actual new graves, they simply took the bodies out and placed them in the one car, then had to take them over a footbridge over the river by hand. /.../ On the other side, the car collected up the bodies again, and another brigade was then tasked with burying them," he went on.

The son found the work understandably traumatic and did not wish to talk about it later, Eesalu said.

Eesalu arrived in Estonia with his daughter at the end of September; as a young, fit male the son was not allowed to leave Ukraine, however, while Eesalu said he could not not leave Ukraine earlier, due to the occupation and the lack of transport.

Communication with the Russian military was "normal" during the occupation he said, but once the representatives of the so-called people's republics of Luhansk and Donetsk arrived in the city, they turned out to be less than friendly.

Eesalu said he hopes that his son and wife will be able to come back soon also. He does not dream of going back to Ukraine at any time. "I don't want to go back. It makes me very sad. I don't want anyone to see this," he said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Ringvaade

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