A lot of Ukrainians are ready to support the aggressor’s version and accuse the Donbas residents of all the griefs the country is going through now.
I was going to write this letter for a long time.
The occupation of Ukrainian lands had lasted for nearly two years and I have gone from Kyiv to Donetsk and back nine times so far. I am often asked about how the residents of the “Donetsk people’s republic” perceive the conflict, if anything is changing in he way they see it and if it does then how. Recently, I have been asked this question by a priest from Ivano-Frankivsk. I answered him that in my opinion the people’s moods there do not matter that much.
He answered: “Maybe now they do not matter any more but they did two years ago. If enemies from Poland appeared here, everyone, even little children would take weapons to fight against them”.
He nodded seriously at a little girl standing near him.
This priest is not insane, he is quite a sensible person. Still, he shares an opinion which is spread outside the Donbas: the local residents “called Putin themselves” and now “they have to pay for their wishes” and they have forced all the other Ukrainians to pay for them too.
Someone has posted photographs from Donetsk the other day. They show celebrations of Victory Day organized by occupational authorities. In the photographs there are several dozens of elderly women with ribbons of Saint George, wearing panamas in the colours of the “flag of the Donetsk people’s republic”. Those photographs arose so much hate among Ukrainian Facebook users! I will not repeat here all the curse words which were said about them, but those Donetsk residents were again accused of calling the Russian army to Ukraine and thus fuelling the aggression. Once again there were calls to stop paying pensions to the residents of occupied territories. Commenting on those photographs turned into “five minutes of hate” (Orwell, “1984”) for our patriots.
A lot of patriotic Ukrainians laugh (and they have some reasons to do this) at the fact that pro-Russian citizens cannot think and see causal relationships between different events. Still, now patriots themselves became victims of this “disease” as collaborating with the enemy is not the cause of the war which is already in progress in our country, it is its consequence. We can keep accusing those elderly people of taking part in the rally which was organized by occupants and supporting the enemy in this way. However, it is absolutely stupid to think that the occupation itself became possible due to the fact that some of them were standing on the square with a poster which read: “Russia, bring your troops here”.
Some days ago, I read on Facebook that a pysanka (pained Easter egg) with Donetsk sights won the Ukrainian pysanka contest thanks to several thousand votes cast by Donetsk residents. The comment which got the majority of “likes” was: “I wish they had been so eager to protect their Donetsk”.
One of the most persistent myths of this war is the one which claims that only the Donbas became the victim of military aggression and Donetsk and Luhansk residents had to repel it themselves. Thus, if they failed to do that and let the pseudo-”referendum” take place on May 11, 2014, they are to blame for the conflict. Because they are “separatists”. Then, a very simple conclusion is made: if there are no “people’s republics” outside the Donbas then people on the rest of the territory of Ukraine are different. They are more conscious, more patriotic and more intelligent. This is why “better and more sensible” residents of the rest of Ukraine pour all their hostility on the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk who remain on the occupied territory:
“Ok, Ukraine, keep working for traitors. You say, there are our people there? Are they really ours? If they really were, they would fight against Zakharchenko and Russian fascists now. They are our people only when they want their pensions from “Kyiv junta”. We should build a wall to separate ourselves from those bastards!”
“Who do you call “ours”? Those aggressive marasmatic witches who were poisoning our boys in 2014, throwing themselves under our military vehicles and spitting at out captives?! The ones who brought the war to our house?! I hate those miserable ones!”
I think, all the people who understand something in this conflict have understood long ago that one of the main aims of the Russian propaganda is to show this war as an internal Ukrainian conflict, as if Ukrainian society split in two parts itself. This split did not happen in the spring of 2014, though the Cremlin was hoping for that. However, now a lot of Ukrainian are ready to accept the aggressor’s version and accuse the Donbas residents, splitting the society and turning the external conflict into an internal one.
New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of three articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout. You can subscribe here.