Slavyansk needs a landing forceSlavyansk needs a landing forceSlavyansk needs a landing force

Slavyansk needs a landing force

Ivan Zelensky
Slavyansk needs a landing force
‘Donbass identity’ is based on the belief that Donets basin is a melting pot of Ukraine – a place where people of different ethnic groups lived together. They lived here in peace and friendship - based on shared labor


I just went to look at the protesters in the centre of our town. And an immediate conclusion: a landing force of the left activists is rather needed here! It is worth to stay here for them a certain agitation-post – at least for a day.

In general the situation on the ground is the following: there is also a kind of ‘Maidan’ in Slavyansk. The seizing of the local police station is most likely already completed and it was done not by Russian special forces. The fighters here are rather ‘partisans-militiamen’. Probably, there may be some volunteers-adventurers from Russia somewhere but it cannot be stated definitely. The fighters don’t speak much to the broader audience, but don’t roaming when armed along the streets too. And the most important thing: the seizure of the building played a role of catalyst – it awakened spirit of ‘adventurism’, the readiness to political action in many local ordinary men and women – those who were passive earlier.

However, the ideological content of this kind of ‘Maidan’ is almost absent. Some girls (most likely girl-friends or sisters of fighters on barricades) are chanting near one of the barricade. But the main part of the audience near the barricade consists of just gapers. However the gapers respond not to all the chants but only to politically neutral ones, like: ‘We are people of Slavyansk-town’, ‘Glory to our town’. A bit lesser part of the audience backs the slogan: ‘Fascism will not pass!”. But the slogans like: “Putin, help us’ and ‘Donbass, Crimea, Russia’ evidently don’t meet much support.

Near another barricade – there are more active people – because this barricade is close to the main street of the town (the first barricade – where girls chanting – is close to the foot-path). Therefore, people that stand there play in a kind of check-point. I used to speak there with construction-workers – they are day-laborers. All of them impatiently wait for the offence of ‘banderites’ (supporters of S. Bandera), but in my opinion they wait for them here vainly because all the entries to the town are encircled by other check-points of Donetsk Republic. That leads to a somewhat dissatisfaction of people that live in suburbs, but it’s a dissatisfaction of the kind: ‘Oh, what’s happening” but evidently not something like ‘to hell with this republic’. There are also some amusing incidents: An empty trolleybus is being stopped at the barricade. The reason: the very fact of an empty trolley coming caused a suspicion.

Helicopters of the Ukrainian army are constantly flying over the town – it’s a kind of intimidation. And local people get angry. Helicopters don’t let them to rest - they frighten people. Local residents are looking out of their windows so that to see whether helicopters are military or it’s a transport-aircraft. There are both kinds of them flying.

And now, what about the shootings. There was no shooting in the centre of the town. The shooting happened on the check-point near Semenovka – it’s a place of turn from the road ‘Kharkov-Rostov’ to the road ‘Slavyansk-Donetsk-Marioupol’. The Donetsk Republic confirmed up to now that one person was wounded. The losses from the side of Kiev junta – still not known. And there were no other shooting in the town heard.

In general the population here is divided into supporters of federalization of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists. According to my subjective observing, the ratio: 50X50. However, pro-Russian sentiments are based not on the principle ‘everything for Russia’ but rather on feeling that ‘we cannot succeed on our own” or on the sentiments that in Russia (as common residents think) one can live a somewhat richer. Russia for them is a minor evil if compared to a flourishing fascism in Kiev – it’s a point of view of those who are being called pro-Russian separatists. What about supporters of federalization – I think everything is quite clear with them: ‘Federal republic of Ukraine – is the only possible (after all what happened) type of Ukrainian state’.

I should also tell about well-known ‘Donbass identity’ – because it seems to me that it’s the key to understanding the current situation. Many people don’t understand the aversion to ‘banderites’ (supporters of Bandera) in Donbass and sometimes take these sentiments for ‘Russian nationalism’. So, the ‘Donbass identity’ is based on the belief that Donbass (Donets basin) is a melting pot of Ukraine – a place where people of different ethnic groups have been lived together. They lived here in peace and friendship that were based on shared labor. People were always judged here on their actions and personal qualities, but not - on their origin. “Come to us, work hard and only then we’ll judge about you. And if someone judges people on the origin or even - on one’s past deals (it’s all about prejudices concerning former prisoners) – so, he is just a poor bastard” – as people say here.

Here’s the key sense of the Donbass identity – could you find Russian nationalism in it? Nevertheless, there are, of course, some reasons to dislike the new Ukrainian power and Kiev intelligentsia that escalates ethno-nationalism, racism and social-Darwinism.

And it is also quite important to tell about TV-channels. Local people (even those that do not participate in local version of ‘maidan’) are angry with what they see in Ukrainian TV-channels. TV spreads lie and constantly intimidates ordinary people. That’s why everybody who visited the centre of the town, first of all tells on phone: ‘Everything here is nothing of that kind – nothing at all!’

And it is really nothing of the kind here. In Slavyansk it is relatively calm and even cheerfully. And I repeat it once more: the left landing force is needed here for carrying on agitation. Let’s think and act.

Ivan Zelensky, Slavyansk


Translated by Kolesnik Dmitry

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