I Want to Live Honestly, But...
Kriminal Ehkspress, No. 52, 28.12.00, p. 7 (T. Semenova)
This letter is the first such I've ever seen. It's from a miner, whom we will call Vladimir Ivanovich Konopkin. The letter personally touched me, with its simple complaint about the ever-changing complexities of our modern life. Vladimir Ivanovich was a 50 year-old man who gave up half his life in the coalmines, but lost hope in his remaining years. The government, for which he dug coal for all of those years never gave him anything except arthritis, and did not value neither his labors nor his honesty.
"Being a young man," Vladimir Ivanovich write. "I always repected the laborers from the mines. I was astounded by these strong, masculine people, who at a depth of 700 meters worked the black gold of the Donbass. The labor of the miner was and remains not only necessary, but dangerous. Once upon a time, he was cared for in a responsible manner. Nowadays, the situation has changed..."
During his 20 years of work in the Gagarin mineshaft Vladimir Ivanovich traveled the route from simple miner to shift leader. The mine for him was his school of life. He loved the profession, and gave his all without remainder. Then, with the rich hopes of a young man, Vladimir Ivanovich never knew that the mines in time would become a millstone around the neck of the government, that the sacrifices of the miners would be forgotten, that the miners would be made the lowest of people.
Vladimir Ivanovich wrote his letter from the hospital, or more accurately, from the cardiology ward. His heart could not handle the strain.
"...I want to live honestly, but..." continued Vladimir Ivanovich. "Now it's necessary to carry home from each shift a small, yet extremely needed, bag of coal in order to heat my home and its stove."
From the letter I understood that Vladimir Ivanovich was the only support and hope for his large family. His wife, their daughter with her child, and their teenage son live in an 18 square meter hut which was provided by the government to its "servants." When his wife and daughter fell under the sokrashchenie ("cut-backs") Vladimir Ivanovich, though already retired, returned to the mines in order to prevent them from going hungry. He wrote that there was not a single minute that he did not think about his family, and about how they were getting along with out his help. In the home there was neither coal, nor warmth, nor money with which to buy fuel. The mines give some miserly amount of coal to the families of incapacitated miners, but there was no means with which to bring it home.
"...I have a dream with is like my last will and testament. I would like to believe that the New Year will bring many stars and heavens, that there will be enough for everyone. I wish all residents of Gorlovka, including myself, warmth and comfort in every apartment for the coming millenium, and that no heart should worry about the next day. Dai Bog (God grant)..."
Vladimir Ivanovich died before he viewed the New Millenium, but his thoughts are perhaps reflected in the worries of many of us. New Year's is supposed to be connected with the fulfilment of happy wishes, especially in the service of others. Perhaps if some well-wishers would like to step into Vladimir Ivanovich's shoes for a moment, donations to his family may be sent via Kriminal Ehkspess, 84601 Gorlovka, Donetskoi Oblasti, ulitsa Usheva 6, in the Artemshakhstroi building, first floor. Further information may be had by calling: 4-23-91 or 9-10-78.
Dai Bog, Tatiana Semenova, assistant editor.