Dispatches from Ukraine

Blogs Dispatches from Ukraine

O-R correspondents share the latest news from within Ukraine.

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.

The mental disorder in eastern Ukraine is ready to win

March 10, 2014
The monument of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in Donetsk, Ukraine was vandalized by separatists. Photo provided by Olga Shestopalova

I am watching the TV news constantly. Even a year ago, I could not believe a situation like this could happen to Ukraine. Infographics illustrating military positions of Russian invaders in Crimea looks like fiction, like the fantasy of an insane author. Indeed, it is a fantasy of Kremlin`s owner.

What's next? A press conference for exiled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich that has been announced for Tuesday in Rostov-on-Don is a bad sign. For Putin, the ex-president of Ukraine is like a joker card. Once the Russian president uses this card, Ukraine should prepare for trouble. In our situation, it can mean active military operations in Crimea and even the start of military occupation of Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts in Eastern Ukraine). What message we can receive from tomorrow press conference of Viktor Yanukovich? I suppose it will be an appeal to vote for the separation of Crimea on its so-called “referendum” on March 16th. Even worse, he can call to separate the Donetsk and Lugansk regions from Ukraine. You must consider two facts: Ukrainians mostly think Yanukovich is not a legitimate leader anymore, and Putin writes the messages of ex-president. Indeed, Yanukovich is politically dead.

What happened in Donetsk this weekend? They are celebrating two holidays at once. The 8th of March is a womens' day and the 200th anniversary of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko`s birth. One of the candidates for presidential elections, Vitaly Klitschko, came to Donetsk for the press conference. He met Donetsk oligarch and owner of “Shakhter” football club Rinat Akhmetov, visited Donbass Arena stadium, and laid a bouquet at the monument of Taras Shevchenko.

Meanwhile, a meeting of separatists was held on the central square of Donetsk. Unknown persons burned the flag of “Shakhter” football club and defiled the monument of Ukrainian poet Shevchenko with uncensored inscription. There is no Donetsk citizen who could burn the flag of its football club, so we now are realizing that the occupants are in our region. And which vegetable do you have to get instead of the head to salute Putin in your motherland?

Well, this night I finally had a falling out with my father. We quarreled seriously. He cannot endure my arguments. He only sings praises to Putin. His grandfather died in Stalin`s Gulag concentration camp, but my father greets the occupation of Ukraine. Indeed, official statistics record the doubling of mental distress among the population in Ukraine the last several weeks. I suppose my father is just a piece of these statistics.

No good news for the moment. The only proposal I can submit is the organization of psychological and psychiatric mobile help to the Ukrainian people. This is the only way to decrease stress among the community – otherwise, we will have civil war earlier than any force can help us on the Earth.

– by Olga Shestopalova



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