Games of Luhansk patriots
After the victory of Victor Yanukovich in 2010 election, the rhetoric of “Russian world” supporters got intensified. Formally, “federalization” slogans were folded, but the course at turning the Donbas into a reactionary enclave continued. The leading grouping of Luhansk regionalists with initiators of the Severodonetsk congress Yefremov and Tikhonov at the head (who had become deputies and ministers by that time ) became the “Russophil (Russia-lovers) wing” in the ruling party. Regionalists tried to create the climate of ideas and policy on the territory of the Luhansk region which was directed at opposing the region to the rest of Ukraine.
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One of the ways of ideological influence was the specific cult of “local patriotism”. For example, in 2011, the regional council adopted the program “Luhansk Patriot” which valued “loyalty to your small motherland” higher that all-Ukrainian patriotism and was very close to separatism. Valeriy Filippov, regional council deputy, was the ideologist of the program.
In the past, he was a komsomol ideologist. He said, “Love to motherland may exist or may not. We won’t do what our colleagues-deputies from Ternopil do. We won’t introduce “patriotic Mondays”. We won’t make school children sing the Ukrainian anthem at the beginning of the school day. It’s a deadlock. I don’t understand that. I can’t understand posters “Love Ukraine!” It is impossible to force anyone to love their motherland”. What did Filippov offer instead of “Ternopil colleagues’ initiatives? – Military patriotic game “Zarnitsa” as “objective and subjective processes in the country made the meaning and understanding of internationalism more topical” (the translation from the soviet language: “Ukrainian fascism” has raised the head that is why it is necessary to strengthen friendship with Russia).
Valeriy Snegiryov, a historian and local studies researcher from Luhansk, stressed the role of “military and patriotic merrymaking” under the auspice of Luhansk regional administration in training future Luhansk militants.
They reconstructed the events of the civil war and WWII in the vicinities of Luhansk. There Russian reconstructors were frolicing together with members of “military patriotic” groups “Oplot”, “Kascad”, etc., who later joined separatists. “I have visited a lot of reconstructions starting with the Borodino battle and ending with the battle of Alma of the Crimean war where there were participants from Italy, France, Great Britain. Their approach is different. It is a hobby for them, a chance to have a good time. For Russians, historical clubs mean strict hierarchy and unquestionable subordination to the leader”, says Snegiryov.
Luhansk authorities firmly supported bike club “Night wolves” rallies as a form of youth pastime. A frequent guest of the rallies was “night wolf” Aleksandr “surgeon” Zaldostanov, one of the leaders of “anti-Maidan” movement.
“Night wolves” in Luhansk
The result of the ideological “processing” of youth by “Luhansk patriots” is the formation of negative attitude to Ukraine and European values. The pattern for them is “the ideal Soviet Union”.
In 2011, Luhansk newspaper “Eastern Variant” initiated an interesting project devoted to the 20th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence. The journalists talked to residents of the Donbas who were peers of independent Ukraine. There words are presented below.
Aleksandr, 22 years old, a miner from Snezhnoye, the Donetsk region: “It’s better to go back to the USSR. Then there were jobs, and there was everything. I did not live at that time, but my colleagues say that it was very prestigious to be a miner; miners had money; they went to the Crimea to have a rest. Yes, shops were empty, but there were no other things that spoil children. It was better at that time”.
Ivan, 23, electrician by profession, who works as a guard: “I would like to live in the USSR. I was born in the USSR. The life was simple then. There were social guarantees. Then a “vegetable” way of life came from America. They tried to bring freedom of speech to us. But what’s the use of it? They tried to ruin the USSR with the help of their moral and freedom of speech. Our cartoons taught us something good contrary to the American ones and American films”.
Aleksey, 23, a bank worker: “Before 2004, in Ukraine, the USSR was associated with a successful ideological system. Then it crashed because people wanted freedom and creativity. There were repressions in the USSR, but there were achievements too. I would like to have low prices and achievements based on bare enthusiasm. There was the goal; there were ideas. There were common aims, societal and personal”.
Kostyantyn Skorkin for RN
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