August 20, 2014

Waiting for a miracle in Ukraine

Mar 7

Main Photo
Olga Shestopalova

Editor's note: This blog chronicles the news and people in Ukraine, written by the Observer-Reporter's correspondents in that region. This entry was submitted by Olga Shestopalova, a journalist who writes for TV Plus, the Observer-Reporter's partner newspaper in Slaviansk, Ukraine. 

 We are living on the edge of a volcano, waiting every minute for the eruption. Feeling that burning smell. Being nervous. And while Russian troopers rattle their saber in Crimea, Donetsk keeps suffering from its inner contradiction.

Yesterday, 5th of March, about 10 thousand citizens of Donetsk came into the central Lenina Square for the meeting against war and separatism.

People covered their shoulders with Ukrainian flags. They screamed: “Donetsk is Ukraine,” “No war,” “Putin go away,” and sang the National anthem of Ukraine.

Who were these people? Students, entrepreneurs, teachers, journalists and other patriots. Absolutely unexpected for other Ukrainian regions, these protesters screamed: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to our heroes!” This is one of the main slogans of EuroMaidan, but it's origin is western Ukraine. So, we can see eastern Ukrainians are ready to unite with the western compatriots to prevent Putin`s efforts of split the nation. Unfortunately, such eastern patriots are still in the minority.

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Anti-war protesters in Donetsk, Ukraine. Photo by Olga Shestopalova

Suddenly, “volunteer corps,” calling themselves Donetsk defenders from western “invaders,” appeared on Lenina Square. They came spontaneously and were as needed there as Russian troopers in Crimea.

Pro-Russian citizens joined them.

There were about 1,5k people in their crowd. They started throwing eggs at patriots, making provocations. Aggressive and sinister, they screamed: “Russia” and “fascists.” Militia officers stood between the two meetings, trying to prevent clashes.

The pro-Russian activists did not stop. They threw smoking grenades into the crowd of anti-war protesters, caught people and beat them, snatched out Ukrainian flags and trampled them. After that, they tried to raise a Russian flag on the building of Donetsk's regional administration. The leader of the separatist group, Pavel Gubarev, called his adherents to seize this building. It was his second attempt since the 3rd of March, 2014.

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Ukrainian riot police officers block pro-Russian supporters of activist Pavel Gubarev during a rally in Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, March 6, 2014. Ukraine lurched toward breakup Thursday when lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days — and Russian lawmakers pushed a bill to facilitate a handover. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

In the evening of March 6th, Gubarev was arrested at last by Security Service of Ukraine representatives accompanied by special forces.

This is not a denouement; it is obvious.

After Yanukovich`s escape, the real puppeteer`s face was uncovered. The smiling proprietor of Kremlin appeared as a main principal of Ukrainian misfortune. Now he uses our old sensitive issue of Russian and Ukrainian language. It`s a pity people cannot realize they are just marionettes in his arms. They cannot resist his tampering.

I don`t want to exaggerate. But I am afraid a special scenario is yet to come. We all pay our attention to the Crimea and Donetsk clashes.

Meanwhile, the new power authorities of Ukraine keep repairing their omission. I will not be surprised too much when Yulia Timoshenko will “manage the situation” in its culmination. And I will not be surprised if this scenario is written by Putin to help reanimating his gas contracts with her. Timoshenko`s rating is reduced.

“People were killed not for Timoshenko,” EuroMaidan activists used to say. But her significance can be increased essentially with this technology.

Maybe she is the only person with whom Putin is ready to cooperate.

 - By Olga Shestopalova, O-R correspondent in Ukraine

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About 

Journalist Olga Shestopalova writes about cultural affairs for TV Plus, the Observer-Reporter's partner newspaper in Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine. She visited the Washington area several years ago as part of our newspapers' exchange program. She also works as a fashion model, and splits her time between Slovyansk and Kiev, the Ukrainian capitol. Ismayil Khayredinov was born in Uzbekistan in 1985, and raised in Crimea after his family returned to their ancestral land at the verge of USSR collapse. At the age of 14, he attended a boarding school for gifted children near Bahçesaray, operated by a Turkish company in partnership with Crimea's education ministry. In Ismayil 2001-2002 academic year, he took part in a one year high school exchange sponsored by the US Freedom Support Act, operated by American Councils. In 2004, he took part in the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program, and interned in the office of Hon. Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Ismayil graduated from Taurida National Vernadsky University in Simferopol with a degree in economics. During his student years and early careeer, Ismayil was involved with many international projects with a diverse range of interests, including agriculture, shipbuilding, exports, education and marketing. Notably, Ismayil took part in a Ukraine Media Partnership Program, where he has become friends with the Observer-Reporter staff. For the last 5+ years, Ismayil has been living in Prague, where he first directed an International Youth Leadership Conference, and is currently building his business in web development.