In shadow of war, Ukrainians seek to vote for peace
Updated : March 20, 2019 01:21 PM IST
Destruction and damage are widespread after five years of conflict over eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists. Around 13,000 people have been killed, a quarter of them civilians, according to the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Troops are stationed in trenches outside Zaitseve and government trucks risk rebel fire to bring bread, coal, firewood and other goods along a dirt road. Employees from the state-run Oschadbank travel by armoured truck to a nearby checkpoint, to allow residents on both sides of the conflict to withdraw money.
Some six hundred kilometres (400 miles) away in Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko has made standing up to Russia a central thrust of what has become a tough political battle for reelection. Those planning to take part in the March 31 presidential vote say the conflict is the single biggest issue facing the country but struggle to identify who can best end it.
Zaitseve, in the country's mainly Russian-speaking Donetsk region, was captured by rebels in the early months of the campaign and could not vote in the 2014 election that brought Poroshenko to power. The village was re-taken by government troops in summer 2015 but peace is still elusive.