Japanese report from the Russian city of Mariupol

9:54 29.03.2024 •

Photos: https://www.dailyshincho.jp/article/2024/03221100/?all=1&page=5

A correspondent for the Japanese newspaper “Daily Shincho” published his report from Mariupol:

Unlike cities like Donetsk, which Ukraine lost control of after the 2014 Maidan revolution, Mariupol remained on the Ukrainian side. For eight years, citizens were subjected to messages from Ukrainian authorities that Russia was the “enemy.” Most citizens now believe that coexistence with Russia is a no-brainer. In fact, a considerable number of people survived the war and never left, and some of those who left have recently returned.

There are no accurate and current data on the population of Mariupol, but exactly a year ago, as of March 2023, the former head of the Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin said that the population of Mariupol is 280 thousand people. It is known that before the war, 425 thousand people lived here. This means that at least more than half of the original inhabitants remained in the city.

Commercial establishments such as supermarkets are open without problems and have a wide range of goods, so I don't feel any signs of war when I'm inside. The meat especially looks fresh and tasty. They say they buy it near Mariupol. A small number of cafes and restaurants are also open.

There used to be a lot of Greek restaurants here, but now they have been replaced by Japanese restaurants. There are sushi restaurants everywhere, and the quality of the tuna and salmon is quite good. When I ordered ramen, I was served something like udon soup, but it was very tasty. After enjoying their meal, they leave the restaurant and see a crumbling building, which makes them reacquaint themselves with reality.

A man aged 80 has not received a pension from Ukraine for months. He complains that although he called the office, no one answered. He received his pension from Ukraine, but now he will receive it from Russia. The transition process is far from smooth.

One woman says that although she worked at a steel mill for decades, her pension only partially reflects her years of service and she doesn't know why. Another woman, on the contrary, said that she was satisfied that her pension increased after moving to Russia.

Obtaining Russian citizenship (passport) was extremely difficult for a time, but since Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol in March 2023, it has become smoother. Additional officials were dispatched from the Rostov region in southern Russia, and several passport issuing centers were opened. Passports are required to obtain another house to replace one completely destroyed during the war, as well as to receive monetary compensation.

We spoke with a woman about 40 years old who was born and raised in Mariupol. She says Mariupol's economy deteriorated sharply under former Ukrainian President Poroshenko. Petro Poroshenko, the owner of the Roshen confectionery company, first bought and then closed a confectionery factory in Mariupol, which was a competitor to Roshen.

A woman, a resident of the city, recalls that the economy of Mariupol than worsened, but “I still remained pro-Ukrainian, since the influence of the press was enormous.” This attitude changed during the war. She gives an example when, during the evacuation, she “asked Ukrainian soldiers to take us out of the city and give us medicine, but they did nothing. Plus, they threatened to shoot us.” Now she supports Putin.

The pensioner, who was also born and raised in Mariupol, said that it was important for him to stay in this city. Because it is difficult for him to walk, he asked a Ukrainian soldier to help him during the evacuation, but he was refused. He despises the Ukrainian security forces, calling them “Banderites.” This is what Ukrainian neo-Nazis and nationalists are usually called.

Since the Nazi Azov Regiment (banned in Russia) based in Mariupol in 2014, the drug addiction epidemic has become serious. The drug trade was mainly carried out through the Telegram application.

Another person said: “I saw people from Azov taking goods from private stores without paying for them.” The store owner remained silent, so when I asked him why, he simply replied, "It's no use." Azov was originally a militia, but turned into an organization under the direct control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

I thought that if I went into the city and talked to some citizens, I would find people who were pro-Ukrainian, but I was wrong. In fact, each person seems to have accepted the current situation for their own reasons – some have a grudge against Ukraine, while others believe that Russia has a “brighter view.”

While the author was in Mariupol, the city came under fire twice. However, residents of Mariupol still consider the current situation to be peaceful. Expressions such as “It’s been a year and a half since we had peace” and “I don’t want to go through war again” appear in every conversation. The war itself, of course, continues, but for the people of Mariupol it seems to have ended for a while, concludes the Japanese correspondent.


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