The black Hyundai bounced along Highway 21 en route to the eastern Ukrainian mining city of Torez, each pothole tossing me from my seat. I peered from behind as Alex, a journalist and friend of mine, carefully navigated the car around dump trucks, gas trucks, and 18-wheelers. With just one lane in each direction and no shoulder, every passing maneuver seemed especially precarious.
Denis, another journalist, rode shotgun. Every once in a while he’d turn around to point out something in the distance.
This is a metal factory. That is the home of Rinat Akhmetov — Ukraine’s richest person. This was the childhood home of our national finance minister. He recently named the street it’s on after himself.
We drove past roadside kiosks where locals were selling potatoes, onions, eggs, and all things pickled. Decrepit Soviet-era apartment buildings and steel factories popped up every ten kilometers or so. An elderly man watched his goats graze in a nearby field. In the distance, smoke ...