Five Thousand Pro-Russians Protest in Donetsk, Ukraine

Five Thousand Pro-Russians Protest in Donetsk, Ukraine

Pro-Russians in Donetsk, Ukraine, held another rally at Lenin Square to voice their desire to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. They want a referendum similar to Crimea’s, which was officially annexed on Friday.

Over 5,000 people attended the rally where the crowd went around town to different government buildings screaming for Russia and waving the Russian flag.

As reported by the Associated Press, one demonstrator, Igor Shapoval, said, “They’re trying to tear us away from Russia.” The 59-year-old businessman continued, “But Donbass is ready to fight against this band which already lost Crimea and is losing in the east.”

Donbass is the industrial region, which is home to many factories and mines around Donetsk, and it is very important to Ukraine. But Kiev has faced much resistance because the east is also home to many ethnic Russians who believe they would prosper under Russian rule again.

Vladimir Prokhorov, 73, a former ambulance driver recites familiar grievances about the “fascists” from Western Ukraine who allegedly used snipers to shoot their own protesters.

“All Eastern Ukrainians want to rejoin Russia,” he said. “I get my information from TV. I only watch Russian TV. They tell the truth, unlike our Ukrainian media which lies to us.”

But according to Lev Gudkov of the independent Levada Center, the opposite is true:

Russia’s most respected pollster disagrees. Lev Gudkov, who runs the independent Levada Centre said recently that Russia’s national television networks have been “conducting an exercise in brainwashing.”

Russian-speakers across the former Soviet Union have been bombarded with daily reports alleging, without evidence, everything from Western plots against Russia to imminent pogroms against Jews to a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine.

“For intensity, comprehensiveness and aggressiveness, this is like nothing I have ever seen over the whole post-Soviet period,” Mr. Gudkov said.

Pro-Ukrainians used to set up their own protests at Lenin Square, but on March 13, they were attacked by pro-Russians, and one was killed. People told The London Times the incident really shook the pro-Ukrainians, and they are too scared to set up their own protests.

Governor Serhiy Taruta lashed out after the violence and said he will do what he can to defend his city from Russia. He also promised that violence will be prosecuted, which might explain why this rally was quiet. Last weekend, pro-Russian demonstrators stormed the government buildings and broke the windows.