December 3, 2022

Valley Post

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At the sushi bar in Kramatorsk, the business continues despite everything

When he prepares his own sushi, Igor Besukh raises the music loudly, so as not to be disturbed by the rumble of the forehead and the sound of the siren.

But on Friday night, that wasn’t enough. A missile exploded around 8 pm in the middle of the huge Peace Square, the main Kramatorsk Square where the city hall, the cultural center … and the restaurant where he works, one of the few restaurants still open in this city in eastern Ukraine within range of Russian fire.

The staff of “Woka,” an establishment with red-painted walls and Asian motifs, immersed themselves in the restaurant’s sanctuary. They came back about twenty minutes later and saw the damage – all windows and doors were broken despite being protected with plywood sheets. They swept, and finished preparing the orders to be delivered.

The raid caused no casualties, and the huge plaza was subsequently deserted, but the explosion shattered the windows of many buildings.

“It was a huge noise. We are obviously not expecting it. I was scared,” the young chef admits, tattooed on his arms. Coming back to work the next day wasn’t necessarily easy, but he smiles, “You may know the saying: War is war, but dinner must be served on time.”

At twenty-three, Igor worked for several years in this restaurant, which today delights soldiers returning from the front or stationed in Kramatorsk, the administrative center of the Donetsk region, which the Russians want to capture.

This city with a pre-war population of about 150 thousand, twenty kilometers from the front, is still under constant threat of bombing. A July 7 attack on a hotel killed one person last weekend. Kramatorsk suffered tragedy in April when the train station, where civilians were rushing to flee, was hit by a missile, killing at least 52 people.

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As of Saturday, everything has been cleaned up, the wooden protection has been reinstalled, and orders are piling up on the table in front of the glass behind which Igor arranges, prints and cuts his own sushi. Sometimes up to 100 a day. The restaurant, which opened in 2016, still employs 7 people (compared to 28 before the war) and has never closed since February 24, the start date of the Russian invasion.

“It is natural to work, even in this context,” says Igor, who, after receiving a diploma in cooking, went to try his luck in Kyiv, then on the coast of the Azov Sea, before returning to Kramatorsk, his home city.

Have you thought about joining the army before? small smile. “Why should I? I have no experience, I will not find any use. Here, I help in a certain way, ”says the young man, who dreams one day of opening his own company.

At the moment, the food is not lacking.

The establishment serves between 10 and 30 dishes a day to eat or deliver. But there are no clients there. “If a missile falls on the restaurant? It is a great responsibility for us,” said the president, Dmitry Pleskanov, a few hours before the missile landed on Peace Square.