Popasna - A Town Which Doesn't Exist

05 March 2024

My name is Kateryna Bezruk and I teach online in Ukraine.

Someone once said that you should appreciate and enjoy everything that surrounds you.

Poposna before 2022

FILE - Popasna, Ukraine, Town Center in 2018. (Courtesy photo)
FILE - Popasna, Ukraine, Town Center in 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Until the spring of 2022, I did not take these words seriously. It seemed that our cozy and developing town Popasna in the Luhansk region would exist forever. The newly refurbished school, called Lyceum 25, would teach our children and grandchildren. The "Unity of Hearts" bridge would always be there for lovers. And there would be walks in the forest and swims in the pond.

But the war came to our town, a small village with a large railway junction between Luhansk and Donetsk. There was a train repair workshop, a locomotive depot, and a bread factory in town. With its fertile black soil, the area was also home to several agricultural businesses.

Why do I use the words ‘was' and ‘were'? Because everything in Popasna is now gone. And the soil is now black with the residue of bombs and artillery shells.

Erased from maps

Russian troops attacked Popasna in February and occupied the town on May 8, 2022. The fighting destroyed much of the town. And Russian officials said they would not rebuild Popasna and simply erased it from maps.

It was not the first time that Popasna had been occupied. The town suffered under Soviet rule in 1932-1933. That was the time the former Soviet Union government's policy led to the deaths of 416 people in Popasna.

Damage of another war

During World War II, the Nazis operated a prison during their occupation of Popasna. The town was heavily damaged but was rebuilt after the war. Returning businesses included a bakery, food plant, sewing factory and a dairy. The 1955 rebuilding also brought rail and transport services, a glass factory, nine schools, five libraries and a stadium. By 1974, Popasna's population was more than 30,000.

Having such experience with rebuilding, I believe that our town will rise again, and "nothing shall burn the living record of our memory."

I'm Jill Robbins.


About the Writer

Kateryna Bezruk, 28 years old, once lived and worked in Popasna, Luhansk region. Now the town is temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation and destroyed, so she lives in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine and teaches online. She holds a specialist diploma from the Horlivka Institute for Foreign Languages and has taught in primary and secondary school for six years.