The Staryi Saltiv community is the most destroyed in the Kharkiv Oblast’s Chuhuiv District. The village on the shores of the Pechenizke Reservoir was occupied by Russians in the first days of the full-scale war. They looted recreation centers, yacht clubs, and private estates.
In early May 2022, Staryi Saltiv was liberated following the fighting, and although the invaders attempted to regain control of it, the territorial defense forces rebuffed the attack. After this defeat, Russian troops started shelling the village mercilessly, until the Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted a lightning-fast and large-scale counteroffensive in September.
The consequences of the armed aggression are huge: destruction or damage affected half of the infrastructure, and even more so — residential buildings.
Read the Ukrinform report on how the community is being rebuilt.
THE INVADERS HAD SHELLED THE VILLAGE FOR FOUR MONTHS
“We waited until our Armed Forces came and liberated us. But then the terrible shelling began. People were immediately evacuated. There is a lot of destruction in the village, as you can see… Our house is a lucky one, so to speak. We had windows installed last year. And now the repairs have been made. But honestly, it’s still scary to bring the children back here,” says Natalia, a resident of Saltiv.
Iryna Glazunova’s house was hit multiple times, damaging the roof, walls, and smashing the windows. Living there is impossible now.
“But we’ve been promised that all the work will be completed by December 25. We are very grateful that the government is helping with the rebuilding. We wouldn’t make it on our own,” says Ms. Iryna.
Alla, a resident of the village, recalls heavy fighting for her native Saltiv. “We were under occupation for a month and a half. When our troops came in, there were ‘DPR’ soldiers stationed here. The fighting began right next door. We lived in basements, then most of us left,” says Ms. Alla, a resident of the village.
Late in August 2022, a fire broke out in her house after another hit.
“The fire in the house was extinguished, but the garages burned down. There was no way and no means to fight the fire. There was no water,” the woman sighs.
The centralized water supply to the village has been restored recently, but because of the shelling and deteriorated state, the water supply system still remains a major problem.
“In the summer, we lived in the dacha, where we had a well. When we came back here, we had to carry water, and drinking water was delivered twice a week. A week ago, the water was turned on,” says Ms. Alla.
Nevertheless, she is happy with the way her house looks today. There was no roof over her apartment on the second floor. Now everything is fixed. The building is almost ready.
“I’m very pleased with the work. The guys are working hard, even though it’s already cold and frost has come,” Ms. Alla said.
17 HOUSES REPAIRED SIMULTANEOUSLY
In Staryi Saltiv, about 50% of the infrastructure has been destroyed, says Oleh Syniehubov, Head of the Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration.
This year, 19 facilities are being restored in the village, 17 of which are residential buildings, as well as a school and a building that used to house the ASC and a family medicine outpatient clinic.
“The degree of project completeness varies. Some work was launched earlier while there was funding available. Some projects started later. The complexity of the facilities also varies. For example, the price of work on one of the buildings has risen by about 70% in the process of restoration. This is because when the builders started dismantling, they discovered structural damage that needed to be addressed. All slabs had to be repoured and the roof had to be rebuilt. And there are some facilities where we are not happy with the pace of implementation. We are communicating with the contractor, we will draw conclusions, and we may even terminate contracts to hold new tenders,” says Mr. Syniehubov.
According to him, the total cost of the work in Staryi Saltiv is UAH570 million, of which almost 320 million has already been provided by the State Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression, while the remainder is to come next year. Funds from the local budget were used on design only.
The two-story buildings will be ready by the New Year, and 11 five-story buildings will be ready in 2024. The school, for which UAH205 million was earmarked, is to be rebuilt by September 1, says Anton Paliei, Head of the Village Military Administration.
Officials note that after the general work in the buildings is completed, people will be able to receive compensation for interior repairs through eVidnovlennia. For those who, for various reasons, are unable to use the program (ether a privatization certificate is missing or ownership is yet to be acquired), the local administration is seeking assistance from charity foundations.
The head of the VMA states that more than half of the houses in the community have been destroyed or damaged, and the houses that can be called intact generally have their windows shattered. Out of 1,323 private estates, 786 were examined by committees, and 730 were included in the register of destroyed and damaged property.
“So far, people in the community have received UAH27.205 million in compensation from the Government in their private accounts,” says Mr. Paliei.
A WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM SLATED FOR THE NEXT YEAR
Before the full-scale war, Saltiv numbered about 6,000 residents. Almost 1,500 of them lived in the apartment buildings that are currently being restored.
“There are 4,500 people in the village today, including those who continue to rent housing in Kharkiv and commute here. They are waiting for the work to be completed, because they are very weary of not being able to live in their homes. On another note, this community is strategically important. Whenever people get evacuated from the border town of Vovchansk, some of them remain here with us. That is why our outpatient clinic and the ASC must be restored first. We need to resume the delivery of basic services to the citizens,” says Mr. Paliei.
The village now has electricity. Gas supply has been almost completely restored. The first 300 consumers received natural gas back in the fall of 2022, while a third of the residents had been without natural gas until last October. 15 kilometers of the grid were mined and partially damaged.
The dilapidated water supply system is the key problem for the community.
“This is a very old water supply system that had been dry for a year. Nothing functioned here at all during the occupation that was followed by a period of shelling. 50 kilometers of pipes need to be replaced. Our utility company works around the clock, we perform emergency work. Sometimes there is no water in certain parts of the village. This is a huge problem that we plan to resolve next year,” says Mr. Paliei.
Oleh Syniehubov, the OMA Head, notes that we are talking about huge sums of money.
“We’ll have to analyze; requests have been made from the central and local budgets, and we intend to raise donor funds as well,” the official said.
It is hard to say whether Saltiv will regain its status as one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Kharkiv Oblast. Only one of the numerous holiday resorts on the reservoir’s shores has partially resumed operations, hosting guests in one of its three buildings. No one is aware if other entrepreneurs have any plans.
“We are trying to contact everyone, because local governments and the military administration already face taxation issues. Not everyone is forthcoming. We can’t find the whereabouts of many of owners. Some of them have moved to Russia,” says Mr. Paliei.
As Ukrinform reported earlier, 62 facilities are being rebuilt in the Kharkiv Oblast this year. The total amount of funding is UAH1.162 billion. In particular, 48 residential buildings are being restored and, in addition to the Staryi Saltiv, work is underway in Derhachi, Balakliia, Chuhuiv, Lozova, Rohan, and Zolochiv Communities.
Yuliia Bairachna, Kharkiv — Staryi Saltiv
Photo by Viacheslav Madiievskyi