Olga Fedorovsky is guided towards the open casket by two men dressed in black. They give her water from a green plastic bottle. She drinks, and lets out a muffled scream. In front of her lies the body of the man with whom she spent the last 20 years.
When pro-Russian rebels sieged the administrative buildings here in Donetsk in the spring of 2014, her husband Oleg was one of the locals who joined them. He was in his early 40s and ready to fight against his motherland for an independent Donbas.
Later that year he met Roma Zhulykov and Maksim Khoroschko. The three friends fought together and became close. Today, they are all dead. Khoroschko’s funeral was held yesterday, and tomorrow, Zhulykov will be buried. Left behind are their widows and families, who have to keep living in a place where hope has been lost.
The priest places a loaf of bread on the coffin. With his grizzled, weathered face he is the most terrifying person in the heavily armed funeral procession. “We have different paths in life,” he says, “and some have shorter paths than others. Soldiers go directly to God.”
Olga kisses her husband’s pale face for the last time. He wears a white ribbon on his head, which partly covers the bandages over his left temple. The gravediggers put out their cigarettes before they shut the coffin. Oleg is lowered into the ground.