The meaning of the Donetsk anti-war protest


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On Monday, June 15, residents from the village of Zhovtneve, outraged by constant shelling, staged a protest meeting in Donetsk. People came to the building of the so-called “DNR Government,” located in the Oblast Administration building, and blocked the Artem street.

The outraged villagers demanded that the “DNR” leader Alexander Zakharchenko immediately cease military operations in their village. Zakharchenko, accompanied by guards with automatic weapons, went out to meet the demonstrators but was unable to calm the crown. asked journalists and Donetsk natives their views on the meaning and consequences of the protests in the context of the Donbas conflict

Yevhen Ikhelzon, journalist,

tsn1Perhaps some of the people simply found some courage. I keep in touch with many people from the Donetsk area and as far as I know nobody really wants war. Nobody wants to fight. Without the volunteers from neighboring countries who want to fight with Ukraine, the fighting would have ended long ago.

Just try to mobilize Donetsk residents to go fight with Ukraine. There will be very few volunteers among the people who are still there. Money? What is money? Life is worth more. Ask the Donetsk residents now if they want to go fight Kyiv or to seize Mariupol.  Do they need this? I’m convinced they do not. They need peace, calm, the return to normal life within Ukraine — perhaps under some new conditions. But this is not important, since this will be decided by the politicians. First of all, the killing must be stopped.

I hope that my words will be heard by people who have remained there. Really a demonstration is the most appropriate approach. It is necessary to demand peace, not only from Ukraine but from the “DNR.” These are the very people who are shooting in the direction of Ukraine, and this is why their fire is being returned. If people want peace they must demand solutions from those who are there. This is very important. I wrote about this a long time ago: that the first real chance for real peace will come with the first demonstration in Donetsk. There are many decent people in Donetsk who should speak out. They do not have to come out in the streets. It is enough for them to say what they think on the Internet, to reach out to Kyiv today, to reach out to Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv. And there are people here who will understand.

I don’t know if these demonstrations will continue. Perhaps tomorrow all these people will be seized and imprisoned. Nobody knows. But I really would like to think that today the courage demonstrated by these people will play a role.

First of all, it is very important for the people in Donetsk to have a voice. Because if today we, ordinary citizens, want to appeal  to them, to find someone with whom to negotiate about the future simply as citizen to citizen, then it is necessary for some associations or civic groups to appear in Donetsk who can speak about peace today and not about war. This demonstration is a prototype of such a dialogue.

Petro Shuklinov, blogger, journalist,

tsn2The events in Donetsk are not a reason either for joy or sorrow. Judging by the rhetoric of the demonstration, people there have not yet understood what has happened and who is to blame. And this still is directly tied to the fact that they themselves have not sufficiently experienced the consequences of war.


The fact is that their choice — “Putin send troops” — must be paid for. And paid for not only with their own lives but with the lives of their children and grandchildren. And when the inhabitants of Donetsk or Luhansk bury their children they should remember that they were the ones who went to the referendums and brought their own country to war. They have achieved what they wanted.

To tell the truth, based on my talks with Ukrainians from all regions of the country, I can say that most Ukrainians are indifferent to what is happening in Donetsk and Luhansk.  They couldn’t give a hoot. We have our lives, our problems. For example, how to help the real patriots leave the occupied territories. And the traitors in Donetsk and Luhansk are of no interest to anyone. Let them kiss the terrorists, let them raise them up on the forklifts. Ukraine has said good riddance to these people who went to the referendums.

Serhiy Harmash, journalist, Radio Svoboda

tsn3Regarding today’s meeting in Donetsk, our local contributor reported that some 500 people came, primarily women — the inhabitants of the Sovtneve village, adjacent to the airport. Their demands sounded ambiguous. People did not ask to stop the military activities, as reported by many in our media, but to move the frontline away from their village or to demilitarize it.

Since talking about the withdrawal of weapons in Donetsk is practically the same thing now as talking about surrendering to the Ukrainian army, that does not appear to be the sentiment there. In fact, the demonstration today could be used by the militants to justify another attack — in other words, to push the Ukrainian troops from the residential areas of the city “at the request of the workers.” This is a dangerous syndrome. Especially if it turns out that the demonstration was organized.

But so far we have no information about anything like it. According to our correspondent, the people were very tense, and the attacks of recent days provide a logical reason for such action. If the demonstration was not inspired by political technologists, then it has a number of positive points. One of them is that it sets a precedent that it is possible to  protest in the “DNR” and not be repressed or killed. Under conditions where effective informational work can be carried out with the population of the occupied territories, it could become one of the instruments of political pressure on the separatists and Moscow.

Kyrylo Sazonov, political scientist, blogger, journalist

tsn4People are very tired. They are tired of the war, of attacks, of uncertainty. Despair has pushed many of them to public protest. The demonstration was not organized by the leadership of the militants, as demonstrated by the contradictory slogans and demands. Some people demanded for the offensive to end, to get moved to the rear rather than in the frontline area. Others demanded that the militants stop firing on Ukrainian positions from the residential areas, thus provoking retaliation. A number of people want to move to other areas, others openly swear at the DNR.

This is actually not the first demonstration and not the first protest. They occur periodically in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the occupied territories. Miners and state employees are demanding to be paid, and people on the verge of starvation are demanding that food be distributed. It is simply that actions in the middle of Donetsk end up being broadcast on TV, but in the suburbs and in the small towns similar actions go unnoticed.

As the economic situation in the self-proclaimed republics worsens, the number of these protests will grow. But it is important to note that any protest will be allowed only as long as the militants can somehow direct it to their advantage. For example, to demand free passage to and from the territory under Ukrainian control. To demand peace on terms proposed by their puppet masters in Moscow. But any pro-Ukrainian or anti-DNR demonstration will be suppressed immediately by all possible means, including the shooting of the protesters.

Editor’s Note: In subsequent interviews with Russian media, Zakharchenko claimed that the demonstration was a provocation by a “fifth column,” organized according to a “scenario” designed in Kyiv. 

Translated by: Anna Mostovych


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  1. Avatar puttypants says:

    And what should the Ukrainian government do when they don’t know what to believe?

    1. Avatar TheBlogFodder says:

      Simple, whatever the Russian side says, believe the opposite.

      1. Avatar On the Balcony says:

        Not so simple…. sometimes Putin tells the truth just to confuse us.

  2. Avatar Kruton says:

    The Bolshevik murderers must be crushed!

  3. Avatar canuke says:

    Don’t you just love the knee jerk reaction so typical of the Kremlin, and the banana republics: “provocation and Fifth Columns”!

  4. Avatar Czech Friend says:

    Agreed with Petro. These people deserve all that is coming to them for betraying their country or simply for pretending they were Ukrainians when in fact they were not.

    And something tells me there will not be any new demonstration like that in the future. They wanted to live with Russia they will with their right to protest stripped from them.

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      If/when these protests grow in strength and frequency the Kolorads will definitely crack down on them. Can’t have any signs of dissent- that would harm our cause, our fight for Novorossiya, undermine our propaganda claiming that the people of the LNR and DNR are happy and content.

  5. “These are the very people who are shooting in the direction of Ukraine, and this is why their fire is being returned”

    Whatever. It was the petty, US-dependent political class that militarized the conflict in eastern Ukraine, in order to crush the anti-Maidan demonstrations, after the coup had occurred in Kiev.

    Remember the tanks/armored vehicles invading towns and shooting at unarmed civilians?
    Remember sending the neo-fascist battalions to tackle civilian demonstrations and shooting at unarmed people?
    Remember the months of shelling and bombing at civilians areas even when “separatists” were nowhere near?

    The coup-installed political class did everything it possibly could to rise the tensions so as to solidify the conflict of US-EU and Russia, i.e. to establish a long-standing battle, to make sure that no compromise would be reached that would establish a balance of influence in Ukraine, in order to “draw in” NATO and ensure it will be providing security for the EU.

    1. Avatar Brent says:

      No, I don’t remember the ‘tanks/armored vehicles invading towns and shooting at unarmed civilians’…….BECAUSE YOU ARE MAKING THIS UP! I do remember Russian provocateurs being bused into Kharkiv, Donbas, Luhansk and other towns to incite riots and protests. I do remember Russian soldiers led by “Strelkov” taking over Ukrainian government buildings. I do remember Russian forces shooting down a civilian airliner using a Russian BUK missile system.

      Stop being such a useful idiot for the Kremlin. WHEN SOMEONE IS AS BLIND AS YOU ARE, they look really really stupid. You lack common sense and have no touch with reality.

      1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

        Add thugs such as Borodai, Pushilin, Bezler, Koznitsky to the list, they are citizens of Dwarfstan as well. Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky are merely front men, the power behind the “thrones” is that of the dwarf.

      2. Oh you poor little brainwashed, selective viewing, useful idiot…

        You are simply repeating the coup-installed govt propaganda that presents all Ukrainians who were against the coup and the imposition of an aggresive, exclusivist national identity as “russian provocateurs” or “russian soldiers”.
        …an easy way to do away with political opponents and exclude alternative views…

        You refuse to see that this exclusivist, nationalist, anti-russian politics institutionalized by the coup d’etat was that tore Ukraine and plunged it into chaos, since the demographic of Ukraine cannot allow it to so one-sided as the coup puppets wanted it.

        Ukraine had to keep some balances, but the coup was carried out and supported by the US, Poland and some EU countries exactly because democratically, they could have never come up with such “west”-dependent government.

        This was the strategy of new govt puppets to escalate the conflict with Russia so as to solidify US involvement…instead of doing the best for their country, respecting all minorities, they chose to make Ukraine the geopolitical clashing filed between USA and Russia.

        Here are some samples for you of coup-installed ukrainian government sending troops against unarmed civilians in east Ukraine, which was in unrest after the coup, having been silenced by the Media and unrepresented in the country’s politics

  6. Avatar albertphd says:

    What I see happening in the Ukrainian Donbas is merely the lull before the storm. True, Russian peasants were imported into the Donbas some 5 or 6 decades ago to work in the coal mines. True, virtually all the population in the Donbas speak Russian as well as a great number of them are partial to Russian thinking, Russian politics, Russian viewpoints, Russian media and Russian propaganda! But 1.2 million people have already left that area as homeless refugees in the past year with approximately 1 million people left (many of whom are no doubt Russian citizens living in Ukraine!).
    Why this public outcry? Why this attempt to stop the tide of events? Quite possibly, the populace in the Donbas, simple working people, realize what everyone outside of Ukraine (who have followed these events from the beginning) are beginning to realize: that things in the Donbas will become a lot hotter before they begin to cool down! It is no longer a matter of Putin wishing to save face, or of the pro-Russian mercenaries wishing to end this ‘dirty war’ (which they began)! It is now a matter of inevitable political repercussions!
    Diplomacy will not stop this tsunami of blood-letting from occurring! Neither will these (far too little and far too late) public demonstrations by the residents of the Donbas themselves! The earthquake preceding this oncoming tsunami has already occurred and now the tsunami must soon follow. It is as predictable as a law in physics or geology, or geo-politics!
    What is alarming is that this conflict which I believe is doomed to escalate (and to escalate quickly!) is so utterly senseless! And I think that is the center of this incentive behind the recent public display of anti-war sentiment! The total absurdity of it all! Yes, the Donbas peoples (both of Russian and Ukrainian origin) may have been somewhat naive (to say the least) in showing moral, financial, and economic support of their captors, the pro-Russian forces in Ukraine; but the price they will now have to pay must be paid by themselves alone! There will be no Marshall Plan for these anti-West, anti-American, anti-Ukrainian pro-Russian populace! Neither Russia nor the West nor Ukraine will give free financial aid once this conflict is over! If there are loans paid to the new Donbas Government once this conflict is over, the interest and the terms of those loans will ensure that the residents will repay these loans for a very long time! An expensive mistake to vote for Russia, yes! But there will be many long years for the Donbas populace to re-think their actions, or I should say, their in-action in not opposing these Russian hordes when they first came to their borders!
    The prognosis is rather negative for the peoples of the Donbas! They are caught in the cross-fire between Russian invaders and Ukrainian defenders! They will become the victims of war, as this conflict culminates to its conclusion! Will any of the opposing sides consider the fact that these residents now have changed their mind? That they now wish this military ‘soccer match’ to come to a close? That they now want everyone to go home and to end this not-so-lovely war?! Hardly! And that is the bitter irony of it all: The people of the Donbas prayed for Russia to save them from Western influence, from Western ways, from Western Ukraine. And now they have what they prayed for!

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      It would, perhaps, be more accurate to say that SOME of the people of the Donbass prayed for Russia to “save” them, but by no means all. GIrkin admitted in interviews with Russian websites that there was hardly any support when he and his thugs arrived in the Donbass early last year. Later, as “Minister of Defence” of the so-called DNR he repeatedly complained that even in Donetsk, a city with a nominal population of 1 million, there were hardly any volunteers for the fight against Kyiv.
      I doubt that many in the Donbass understood what the consequences of Girkin’s “rebellion” would be- but they are now stuck with them. Plotnitsky, Zakharchenko and their thugs and Dwarfstan masters won’t go voluntarily. The dwarf wants control of the shale gas deposits of Eastern Ukraine, to prevent the country becoming independent of his gas and, indeed, possibly even a serious competitor on the world gas market. Ditto for the oil and gas deposits in the waters around the Crimea.
      To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid!”, in this case oil and gas economy.