Despite the fact that life on the occupied Donbas territories is still one of the main themes of Ukrainian mass media, its everyday realia are often not touched upon at all. As a result, they attract only political attention which does not show the full picture, of course. “The Phrase” managed to talk to one of locals and ask him about what is really going on in Donetsk today, what the situation is like in military, economic, political and social spheres there.
We do not mention the real name of the interlocutor.
What is the military situation in Donetsk now?
In general, the military situation is stable today, but for the outskirts (Kyivsky, Kuybshevky and Petrovsky districts) which are in the north-west of the city. Militants shell the Ukrainian Armed Forces positions from those districts. I think, sometimes they can shell some part of Donetsk from those districts and accuse the Ukrainian Army of attacking some city areas.
First, at the beginning of hostilities and during the hottest periods, it was hard to believe that separatists themselves could shell the city. However, so many times as I was looking though photos showing the aftermath of some attack, I could see that a building was damaged only on its eastern side and unexploded shells which stuck out of the ground showed that the attack was conducted from the east. The Ukrainian Armed Forces were located only to the north and west of the city.
One day I nearly got under a shelling myself. It was in Kalininsky district near “Obzhora” supermarket (local chain of supermarkets — editor.). I came home and two hours later I read on the Internet that a shell hit a palace of culture which was located opposite “Obzhora” and a car. A family of three (a mother, a father and their baby) burnt alive in that car. I had passed there just two hours before. The locals said they had heard someone firing not far from that place, supposedly, from the territory of the mine named after Kalinin. That mine was the closest place shut from strangers’ eyes. The locals told that to journalists, who arrived to the site if the shelling, as well.
A friend of mine told me about another case which happened in Kyivsky district residential area. “DPR” mercenaries came, shelled the vicinity from large-caliber mortars or “Grads” and left. Short time afterwards, a so-called “reply” from the Ukrainian side (imitated by “DPR” itself) landed. It used to happen regularly and is probably happening now all along the demarkation line. Later, correspondents of local and Russian channels arrive and shoot videos about “Ukrainian castigators that deliberately kill civilians”.
One day I saw a similar video on Russian First Channel. A Russian journalist is going up the stairs in a multistory house, he comes to a floor a “DPR” soldier is firing from and he meets people who live in that house on his way. The video shows a shooting militant and a “reply” - shells which also hit detached houses situated near that multistory one. If they show on TV that militants use people as a human shield, it is impossible to doubt who is really guilty of shellings...
Who do the locals blame of shellings?
The majority of Donetsk residents accuse the Ukrainian Army. I understand and partially share this opinion as it has some ground. Still, people never ask why someone fires at them and who is hiding behind their backs, speculating about destruction and deaths. I can admit that the Ukrainian Armed Forces return fire but they never do this to kill civilians or to destroy the city, despite the fact that local propaganda is trying to persuade people of this.
You should imagine that you are a serviceman whose main task is to eliminate military machinery and enemy’s soldiers, things which pose a threat. Why should this serviceman fire at a hospital, bus stop or market?
People do not understand this and they never question propaganda. Separatist mass media, in their turn, continue persuading the locals that the Americans arranged a coup-d'etat, made “Kyiv Fascists” their puppets and now want to eliminate the Russian-speaking population or to force it speak the Ukrainian language.
I have heard this on public transport, in the street and even from friends of mine. People say that the Donbas population will be taken to concentration camps or relocated to Western Ukraine (and people who live there will be relocated here), that the Donbas residents will be used for organ trade, that the Americans need our land and so on. If a person believes such things, of course he or she will believe stories about “crucified boys” (the story became viral on Russian mass media after Slovyansk liberation). Besides, these people hear salvos and see destructions in their city. This is why the majority of the locals are sure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces destroy the city deliberately.
Fortunately, now the intensity of hostilities has decreased, though sometimes we can still hear salvos, especially at night.
Yevhen Sereda, “The Phrase”
Donetsk resident: If “DPR” learns who gives this interview, I will face prison. Part 2
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