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Donetsk after the ‘elections’: shelling, armored equipment and promises of entertainment

Donetsk after the ‘elections’: shelling, armored equipment and promises of entertainment
Article by: Illya Trebor
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
After the so-called ‘elections’ in the ‘DNR,’ which took place on November 2, part of the citizens of Donetsk hoped for the situation to improve at least a little. The event was allegedly supposed to regulate the issue of pensions and other social dues on this territory and legitimize the ‘government.’ However, the expectations of regular citizens were not met – despite the fact that the level of life remained on the ‘republican’ level, almost immediately after the ‘expression of will’ Donetsk citizens received an unwanted ‘bonus.’ Explosions are heard in the city again. The locals report about heavy equipment in the city and near it. The OSCE stated their great concern with these events. 

Military activity has increased visibly. A week before the ‘elections,’ a big amount of heavy weaponry was transported to the Kyivsky district of Donetsk. About the same is happening now – on Saturday, November 8, the residents of Donetsk noticed cruising heavy equipment, including tanks.

Videos of a column of KAMAZ trucks painted khaki and tows with heavy cannons emerged on social networks. As well as tanks near the Southern bus station on Kuprin street, near the TV center, where the oblast TV channel was located and which was one of the first to be captured by pro-Russian mercenaries.

Head of the OSCE, Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter expressed “great concern” with the renewal of violence. The statement issued around midnight speaks of new shelling in Donetsk and the emergence of heavy weaponry and tanks. The OSCE calls for all sides to act responsibly and do everything in their power to restore the ceasefire.

The report of the OSCE special monitoring missions says that intense shelling in the north and northeast of Donetsk began on Saturday around 3 p.m. In Makiyivka (25 kilometers to the northeast of Donetsk) the observers spotted a column of over 40 trucks moving towards the west. The column included 19 KAMAZ trucks with no identification or license plates, each of which towed a 122-mm cannon with personnel in dark green uniform without identification. OSCE observers saw a convoy of 9 tanks (four T72 and five T64) without identification in Donetsk on the crossing of Leninska and Kuprina street.

Who hides in fallout shelters?

The relative ceasefire was violated almost on the very next day after the ‘elections’ – already on November 3, the citizens of practically all Donetsk districts were reminded of what combat is like. That is to say, shots and explosions were heard even before that, however the amount of shelling in the week following the elections was equal to the hottest months of summer. The artillery did not rest at all – people heard shells fly frequently on a daily basis.

Why ‘fly’? The conflict in Donbas broadened the perspective of its citizens in the worst possible ways. As such, every fifteen-year-old in Donetsk can easily distinguish a shot from a Grad and a mine launcher. The more attentive ones can quite certainly establish the caliber: 50 mm or 160 mm, or even ‘Nona.’ Therefore it is not difficult to discern a launch from a fallout. The first is reminiscent of something between a car exhaust and someone banging dust out of a carpet, the second can be discerned by the groaning of the building it targeted.

By the way, this is why bunkers, basements and fallout shelters are very popular only in several Donetsk districts (Petrovsky, Kyivsky and Kuybyshevsky) – they are the only ones in which missiles target residential areas. The rest of the districts have not been shelled since summer – the only thing that can be heard in, say, Kalininsky or Voroshilivsky districts is slight vibration from several dozen Grad shots a day. However, it should be noted that this vibration, multiplied tenfold, scares the citizens of neighboring Makiyivka, where the mercenaries have located their reactive systems. By the way, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Makiyivka was where schools 63 was targeted from, wherein two children died and several more were seriously injured. The mercenaries accuse the Ukrainian troops of shelling.

Therefore, only two categories of city residents are forced to hide from the shelling today – those who live near the conflict epicenters, such as the airport, and those who believed in the summer that ‘the junta was planning to bomb Donbas with nuclear weapons of the 6th, 7th, or even the 8th.’ Other city residents are well aware of the nearest shelters, however few express willingness to spend the night there (it is a beginner’s mistake to run there during shelling). The majority think that precise targets are being shelled in certain districts. Therefore, people spend their evenings at home. The latter fact contrasts greatly with the situation in the beginning of the fall, when the number of people and cars grew dramatically in the streets of Donetsk. Back then it seemed that the city was coming alive. Now the streets become empty before dusk.

Tension increases also because ‘DNR’ mercenaries have once more begun actively verifying the documents of random passers-by, which has not happened for a long time.

‘Humanitarian Convoy’

However, not only shelling was news for Donetsk citizens this week. The already slightly forgotten ‘humanitarian convoys’ from Russian surfaced once more. This time, yet another column arrived in Donetsk on the 4th of November. The situation is different from the previous instances, when the infamous white trucks were not seen by anyone personally except for on TV screens. This time the situation was not limited to a single statement from the Russian Ministry for Emergencies – a column of white KAMAZ trucks was seen in the city. The previous ‘humanitarian convoy,’ as locals claim, brought the vegetables that were sold on discount at the ‘elections.’ However, it is still unclear what caused the next portion of the cargo to come. Critics say it might have been an attempt to solve the problem of hungry pensioners who blocked the road because of the lack of humanitarian assistance.

Besides all this, if we are to cite one of the media personae of the ‘DNR’, “Donetsk lives.” For example, the Drama Theater opened its season. By the way, this was where the inauguration of ‘Prime Minister’ Alexandr Zakharchenko was held, during which the central streets of the city were closed even for public transportation. The philharmonic also started working, and soon the biggest entertainment center in the city is to open with a cinema, a skating rink, restaurants etc. The latter fact would have been good news for the citizens who remained – stress needs to be relieved even on occupied territory. However, this entertainment center is in Kyivsky district of Donetsk, within less than five kilometers from active combat in the airport. Therefore, the citizens are afraid of adding cinema-goers to the death toll.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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