Donbass stories – Spartaco and Liza

by Giorgio Bianchi

Right after the outbreak of the conflict in Donbass, Spartaco leaves his job and the house where he lived with his mother to enlist as a volunteer in the ranks of the pro-Russian militias. Believing he had nothing to lose, ideologically very motivated and relying on his previous military training (Folgore paratroopers and Italian Army) Spartaco decides to join the separatist cause finally abandoning his life in the province of Brescia that disheartened and depressed him.,Arriving in Donetsk in the autumn of 2014, his military skills allowed him to be immediately enlisted in the Vostok battalion, and then rapidly moved to the front, right after a hasty training and without knowing a single world of Russian.  These are the days of the Donetsk airport battle: they fight a few hundred meters from the enemy, under the constant artillery and tank fire and temperatures around -20 degrees. During that battle Spartaco is wounded three times; nevertheless, once cured, he always asks to be reassigned to the forefront.mAfter the airport, Spartaco is stationed in Spartak, a small village on the outskirts of Donetsk, constantly bombed by the opposing artillery; after that in the “promzona”, near Avdiivka and then again to the airport.,In 2017 for the first time in three years, Spartaco goes back to Italy for some days to visit his mother.,Through Facebook Spartaco meets Liza.,Liza is a girl from Donetsk who learned Italian chatting on socials. Abandoned along with her two children by her husband, fled to Russia after the beginning of the conflict, Liza and her children live with her parents in the family home.,Liza works as a seamstress in the Donbass Opera Theatre where she sews the stage costumes of the ballerinas. ,Sonja, her youngest daughter, studies classical ballet and dreams of dancing in the theatre where her mother works. Daniil, the eldest son, hopes one day to become a militiaman like Spartaco.,Spartaco’s routine is two weeks in the trench and two days at rest. Being his new post a few miles from Donetsk, during his permits Spartaco returns to his house in the city: a hot bath to wash away all the dirt gathered during the 15 days spent in the mud, a haircut, a glass of cognac and then the usual greetings on socials; at the front there is no internet connection so the only way to stay in touch with his mother, his friends and fans is to wait for the permit to go home.During these two rest days, Liza at the end of her shift in the theatre, gets together with Spartaco to spend a few intimate hours with him, lingering until he has to return to his post. (text by Giorgio Bianchi).

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