“The first toast is for peace,” Vladimir, 28, proclaims as he fills four glasses with homemade vodka.

He is sitting with his friends on the airline seats of MH17. These green, pink and red seats were once attached to the Boeing 777 airliner of Malaysia Airlines headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. But on 17 July 2014, shortly after 5 p.m. local time, the plane with 298 passengers was shot down over the small village of Grabove.

Seven months have past after Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down in Grabovo in Eastern-Ukraine. Together with journalist Per Christian Selmer Andersen, we went back to the village close to the frontline to find out how the situation is there now. We found young men drinking vodka in the airline seats, children who can’t sleep at night and that only 10 percent of the adults are working. This feature have been published in Politiken, Svenska Dagbladet and Bergens Tidende, among others.

 

"I am afraid of snipers", Artëm says. He moves rapidly, with a waddling move. In the background we hear shooting and shelling, despite the truce in December.

“I am afraid of snipers”, Artëm says. He moves rapidly, with a waddling move. In the background we hear shooting and shelling, despite the truce in December.

On this field, MH17 was downed the 17th of July 2014. Six months later, debris is still to be found on the ground.

On this field, MH17 was downed the 17th of July 2014. Six months later, debris is still to be found on the ground.

The Dutch Safety Board collected the most vital parts of the airplane in the beginning of December. Still there are debris and personal belongings left on the ground. Sergey and Vladimir are two of the local men who guards the plane in a hangar in Grabove. The Dutch authorities does not know when they will be able to get it all back to The Netherlands.

The Dutch Safety Board collected the most vital parts of the airplane in the beginning of December. Still there are debris and personal belongings left on the ground. Sergey and Vladimir are two of the local men who guards the plane in a hangar in Grabove. The Dutch authorities does not know when they will be able to get it all back to The Netherlands.

Vladimir, Artëm and Aleksander guards the wreck every night. They watch movies, drink beers and makes themselves comfortable on the passenger seats from MH17.

Vladimir, Artëm and Aleksander guards the wreck every night. They watch movies, drink beers and makes themselves comfortable on the passenger seats from MH17.

The mayor of Grabove, Vladimir Bereshnoy, collects the valuables from the passengers of MH17.

The mayor of Grabove, Vladimir Bereshnoy, collects the valuables from the passengers of MH17.

Danila plays with his planes at home with grandfather Aleksander Kovalenko.

Danila plays with his planes at home with grandfather Aleksander Kovalenko.

Danila and his mother Tatiana plays at the grandparents house. Her husband is living with his parents in a village closer to Donetsk. War teared them apart.

Danila and his mother Tatiana plays at the grandparents house. Her husband is living with his parents in a village closer to Donetsk. War teared them apart.

The Kovalenkos and Vladimir goes out to look for the shelling. It is about 30 kilometres away, they reckon.

The Kovalenkos and Vladimir goes out to look for the shelling. It is about 30 kilometres away, they reckon.

Danila at his home in Grabovo.

Danila at his home in Grabovo.

Two boys play on an abandoned playground in Grabove. After the war, even the only cafeteria has closed in the village.

Two boys play on an abandoned playground in Grabove. After the war, even the only cafeteria has closed in the village.

Two women pass the government building of Shakhtarsk, which was put on fire last spring.

Two women pass the government building of Shakhtarsk, which was put on fire last spring.

Before the war, many of the men worked in the mines. Now they are closed or illegally drifted by the rebels. Nine of ten in Grabove is left without work. Artëm make times go by guarding the wreck.

Before the war, many of the men worked in the mines. Now they are closed or illegally drifted by the rebels. Nine of ten in Grabove is left without work. Artëm make times go by guarding the wreck.

Big areas of Donetsk city is completely shattered by shelling and abandoned by civilians.

Big areas of Donetsk city is completely shattered by shelling and abandoned by civilians.

Pro-Russian rebels in a bunker at the front. 6000 people have been killed in the conflic.

Pro-Russian rebels in a bunker at the front. 6000 people have been killed in the conflic.

A pro-Russian rebel who wants to show his face. Others are afraid of being recognized as their family is still living on Ukrainian territory.

A pro-Russian rebel who wants to show his face. Others are afraid of being recognized as their family is still living on Ukrainian territory.

A pro-Russian rebel relax in a bunkers close to the airport in Donetsk. According to the rebels, 4000-5000 of their army consists of Russians. The Ukraine Authorities claims the number of Russians are the double.

A pro-Russian rebel relax in a bunkers close to the airport in Donetsk. According to the rebels, 4000-5000 of their army consists of Russians. The Ukraine Authorities claims the number of Russians are the double.

We meet "Stan" at Ramada Hotel in Donetsk city, where he is chatting with some Chechen friends. As the truce was going on, he went out in the city to hang out with friends - still armed and in uniform.

We meet “Stan” at Ramada Hotel in Donetsk city, where he is chatting with some Chechen friends. As the truce was going on, he went out in the city to hang out with friends – still armed and in uniform.

Winter in Donetsk. The locals thought it would give a break to the fighting, as the cold might scare the soldiers. However, the events in January showed this not to be true.

Winter in Donetsk. The locals thought it would give a break to the fighting, as the cold might scare the soldiers. However, the events in January showed this not to be true.

 

I was also there right after the crash in July. Here is that report.