Almost every morning and sometimes in the evening in occupied Thorez, the chimes of the Church of St. Kseniya of Petersburg and the Church of the Moscow Prelates are covered by the roar of tank cannons and coaxial machine guns. The explosions and gunshots shots were heard even on the holy days of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.
It seems that the occupying forces are preparing their next military show – a tank biathlon between two teams representing the so-called “DNR” and “LNR”. Ten tank crews, SPGs (self-propelled guns) and IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles) race daily across the Torez tank firing range, shooting randomly and destroying the surrounding fertile land with their caterpillar tracks.
The tank biathlon is a Russian invention; the competitions started under Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. This is yet another sign that the “republics” are administered according to the Russian model, says Vadym Skybytsky, representative of Ukrainian Intelligence Services.
Last year, the tank biathlon ended tragically – the explosion of a Strela-10 killed a 9-year-old girl and seriously injured and burnt a 10-year-old boy. This year, preparations for the “great event” are held in secret, with no admirers allowed and not too much publicity.
The tank biathlon competition between terrorist “DNR” and “LNR” will be held sometime in September. Perhaps they will celebrate the “Day of Liberation of Donbas” as just another propaganda mechanism, and all six channels will broadcast the military spectacle. LifeNews will get exclusive images that its audience has long been waiting for. And finally, a patriotic rally with St. George ribbons and Soviet marching music will be organized again at Savur Mohyla.
Local women have already been sent out to repair the potholes of the road between Donetsk and Luhansk. They’ve whitewashed the curbs, and some bus-stops even display large posters painted in the style of “Our grandfathers fought and died for us. We shall never forget!” Yet another wave of cheap “sovok” patriotism and spectacle awaits residents of the occupied territories. The question is whether these are the images people want to see and whether locals actually dream of them?
In the city centre, the “We want peace!” banner on the Mayakovsky Palace of Culture has been replaced with a publicity poster for the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat). How many residents can actually go to see this show when their wallets have been emptied by the war? Every day, people dream of only one thing – When will this three-year-long conflict come to an end? When will we have at least a speck of hope for the future?
It’s impossible to get reliable news from the TV screens. Soviet songs, old movies from the GosFilmFund, and Russian television broadcasts have inundated our information space. They speak of attacks perpetrated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, NATO and even ISIS! At the same time, the leaders of the “republics” threaten to march towards Kyiv. The administration organizes special courses for “peaceful civilians”, training them how to act against UN and OSCE peacekeeping forces, and collects signatures for an open letter appealing to the UN to “stop the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.
The absurdity of the situation in the occupied territories lies in the simple fact that no one observes a single clause of the Minsk Agreements! Everyone pretends the agreements are in force, but what is actually happening? The war continues… Civilians quietly cross the demarcation line, while other civilians and soldiers are dying nearby. They stand meekly in queues at checkpoints in the scorching sun and don’t even dream that common sense will prevail and this abuse of human beings will finally end.
Last year, people were bussed massively to the tank biathlon. A grandstand for five thousand spectators was even built. I wonder whether the public will be bussed this year. Putin’s supporters will probably attend the event, waving Russian flags and the flags of the terrorist “republics”, strutting about with their St. George ribbons and rooting for their “republic”.
It’s so sad to see how quickly people have got used to living in a world where war has become commonplace, survival – a way of life, lies and falsehood – a form of information, betrayal of the Homeland – a pocketful of money, and the future – a ghostlike existence in a cheap remake of the Soviet Union.
The citizens of the Roman Empire once clamored for “Bread and circuses!” The Roman Empire disintegrated, as did its citizens.