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If we look through Donbas newspapers archives (those scarce ones which we managed to preserve), we can see who Donbas mass media was governed by.
For sure, this was the fact which hampered the development of civil society in the region. Any initiative which was not supported by the regional authorities was doomed to become marginalized and the activists were treated as “loosers”, “freaks” and “people suffering from hysteria”. I still remember articles of some tycoon-sponsored journalists who represent “activists” of “new” Donbas and “new” Donetsk now.
Сivil society has always been a bit distorted in Donetsk. This destortion was deliberately created by mass media which described this society. However, today we have a chance to reshape it and get a new one in European Donbas.
How can we use this chance? Demagogues will say: “Take spades, go and restore your land”, “create working places”, “why don’t you...”, and so on.
Of course, my colleagues and me can hardly build a fowl farm and create new working places.
What can we do, then? What contibution to building new Donbas can we make?
A journalist and an analyst guard the values of a society. It is impossible to have fair policies without them, even if we speak about fowl farms.
How can we protect teachers from being humiliated by the fact that they are underpaid all the time? How can we protect freedom of speech at companies where mobbing is widespread? How can we protect rights of women who work for big corporations? How are candidates for a post of a deputy appointed by this or that political party? Why does a governor of some region write amendments to the regional budget solely, according to his own vision?
Of course, people who live in the Donbas can say that they are not interested in these issues and there are more important and urgent ones. Still, if we do not find solutions and answers to these problems now, we are bound to remain rightless creatures floundering about among gloomy days and ridiculous salaries, and dumb talk shows will be our only entertainment. Sometimes we will get humanitarian aid and have a celebration then.
Someone may say: “Give us a big salary and we will live without any problems”. This is a tricky way to think. You can get something for free only if you are in prison where everything is done according to a timetable (this is not a Ukrainian variant, by the way) and under strict surveillance.
Are you happy to live under surveillance?
This surveillance system (“Stalin’s methods”) in Donetsk is the reason of our common problems, not only the problems Donetsk residents face now. Thefts and corruption are the result of the absence of values and principles.
We do not need politicians’ pompous speeches here, it must all happen individually. NGOs and, as I call them, “healthy” mass media (I will write about this next time) are an ideal means for this.
We should try to limit tycoons’ and their puppets’ permissiveness on all levels, not only in the parliamnt, in the government, in political parties. There are some towns in the Donbas, which are literally owned by one person and the residents are this person’s slaves.
Can we make big capital interested in developing educated, thinking, free presonalities? Can we persuade them to do something that differs from a usual routine of buying football boots for their teams? Can we make them renew our libraries in Slovyansk, Kramatorsk or in Volodarsky district? Can an oligarch understand that it is better to install toilets in schools (some schools in the Donetsk region still have privies outside) than to invest money into shooting a new series which will rise the channel's rating?
Our task is to make oligarchs do this.
This work will take years and, maybe, generations, but I am sure that we will start it and we will change the Donbas forever.
It is impossible to imagine the Donbas without Donetsk and it means that it is our job to return Donetsk. It is not the job of tycoons with their reality full of TV series, it is not the job of politicians of all-Ukrainian importance with their live TV shows.
Thus, we have the right for certain steps which will be explained in a separate roadmap.
If you want to be with us — join in, this is what our organization was created for.
Oleksiy Matsuka, Chairperson of NGO “Donetsk Institute of Information”. Link to his Facebook. This is a part of his report, the full text is available on the site of the organization.
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