Their homes have been destroyed by the shelling, and the bombing has deprived them of all the amenities of civilization like water, natural gas, and electricity. Their neighbours have been wounded or killed, while they have been forced to flee their hometowns. However, in spite of such grave difficulties, many displaced persons from Donbas incredibly blame the Ukrainian army for their suffering, while the militants are looked upon as defenders of a just cause.
While it would be impossible to document all the suffering and difficulties the refugees from the East have experienced recently, one example gives a description of what their life has been like. A bus filled with displaced persons has just arrived back in their hometown. They exhibit no hatred toward the militants and separatists, yet are full of anger towards the Ukrainian army. Any initial sympathy for their predicament dissipates when you understand the following: in spite of everything they have experienced, they only blame the Ukrainian army and Ukrainians for their hardships, absolving of any blame the Donetsk terrorists, the Luhansk terrorists, and themselves.
While their husbands and sons have been fighting on the side of the terrorists, these women have been fleeing further into Ukraine, and away from the bloody horror. Here, in camps for displaced persons, they shamelessly disparage all things Ukrainian, while accepting every generosity that Ukrainian volunteers offer them. They take whatever help the Ukrainian government is providing, but for some reason without a word of thanks in return. Strangely, they harbor fond thoughts about the killers back home who started this bloody butchery in the Donbas. What’s striking is the blind faith of these people in Russia and in separatists and criminals, and the abject refusal to open their eyes to the suffering and misfortune of their fellow citizens and neighbours.
“We have tried our best, even asking my father to help give an answer to a woman who insisted that it was the Ukrainian army that was firing at us,” explains Oleksii Lypovetskyi, himself a refugee from Luhansk. “We simply showed her the direction the shells were coming from, saying that the Ukrainian army is located 70 kilometers in that direction, but the mortars are being fired from this direction and from a maximum of 3 kilometers away.”
Not everyone, however, is complaining about their unpleasant fate, blaming all their very serious troubles on the Ukrainian army. Others are trying hard to make the best of their stay in their new environment. In Pushcha-Vodytsia’s resort complex, “Dzherelo”, numerous migrants have been content with the safe harbor they have been given, making it easier for them to cope.
The administrator of the resort, Zynovyi Dopilko, remarks that “we are making every attempt for find jobs for the people here. As an example, just today representatives were here from the Obolon raion. It is sad to say that perhaps 50% of the refugees actually have no desire to look for work. We keep telling them that being active in the life of the community is for their own good.”
These same people are not always eager to return to the homes from which they came. It falls to the volunteers who are providing them with assistance in their temporary homes to explain politely that whether they want to or not, the plan is for people to return to those cities in the East that have been liberated.
Many people have found temporary shelter at the resort “Dzherelo”. It soon becomes clear that some individuals have been honest about their identity, but others have been hiding behind the claim of being a refugee; that is, they have ties to the separatists. The authorities began telling the arriving migrants that if it revealed that their husbands are separatist fighters, their documents would be turned over to the police for investigation, since being a terrorist is a criminal matter.
Zynovyi Dopilko, who is a physician by training and by profession, provided assistance to many injured people during the Maidan. Today he is the highly efficient administrator of the camp, “Dzherelo”. He holds daily meetings with the local residents, listens to their concerns and needs, explains the situation in the country, even engaging in the occasional heated discussion during these communication sessions.
“One time I got really mad,” he explains. “It was Independence Day, and they were showing on television how a column of nearly 50 of our men who were prisoners, many of them wounded, were being paraded in the streets of Donetsk. It was a disgrace. No sooner had I made this remark and someone in the room began to chuckle. I immediately said that if I hear that laughter again, you’ll be packing your bags and making a quick trip to the train station, and I don’t care in what direction you go.” He concluded by saying “I can’t understand it. I have friends who are in that war. They are dying there. As a doctor I would go there, too, at a moment’s notice.”
Instead of defending their homes, these people are running away from the war. They accept the charity of volunteers, people who are raising funds from wherever they can, including asking their own families. The refugees have benefited from the hospitality of those who live in Western Ukraine. And yet, they talk about them behind their backs, ridicule their traditions, complain about the food, and demand recognition for their special status as migrants. Russia has really done its work, and there is now a deep-seated virus of Ukrainophobia infecting the hearts of tens of thousands of residents of Donbas. Defeating this virus will be a victory as monumental as victory on the battlefield.