Mariupol and a Ukrainian Marseillaise – August 30, 2014


This photo from the Washington Post (August 30, 2014) captures a rally on behalf of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, whose residents have been digging trenches in anticipation of a Russian assault on the city. A colleague shared this message from a local resident who witnessed events there. The translation from Russian is by William Risch, Georgia College.

Mariupol mobilized in half a day, like the day before yesterday. The plans were modest – proceed to the Novoazovsk checkpoint, give assistance to soldiers, and sing the national anthem. But it turned into something grandiose. Several thousands showed up, very many of them wearing embroidered shirts for special occasions, with flags. They lined up, held hands, got acquainted with each other, and were amazed by how many of us were there. They chanted, they sang the anthem (o… with that Russian accent!), children racing past on bicycles called out “Glory to Ukraine,” and adults responded in bass, “Glory to the heroes,” an atmosphere of celebration while facing the east. But the culmination awaited us at the end, when the human chain rolled up, all the people came up to the soldiers, and someone shouted out to the troops, “Thank you!” The choir of a thousand voices took it up, and the soldiers wound up in a ring of glory, women ran up and embraced them… Catharsis… Again the anthem… In the sixteenth century, Luther composed the immortal chorale that Germans back then went to war with against bigoted Catholicism, “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” (“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”). In the eighteenth century, the Marseillaise became that song. And here, Ukraine, the twenty-first century – the people are fighting for freedom, and the national anthem inspires them to do it.

Original link with the photo from the Washington Post:

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Mariupol and the Birth of Ukraine – August 30, 2014

Journalist Anastasiia Bereza, Facebook Status Update, Posted August 30, 2014 (translation from Russian by William Risch, Georgia College)

“It’s right in Mariupol, where there is no governor, nor any mayor, nor any police, nor any territorial defense battalions, but just a handful of activists, 300 Spartans, a brigade of border troops, and a couple of People’s Deputies – I want to stress this: right now, the Russian Federation will perish, while Ukraine is just being born. With pains.”

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Mustafa Nayyem on Losing a Soldier – August 30, 2014

Facebook Status Update of Mustafa Nayyem, Posted August 30, 2014 (Translation from Russian by William Risch, Georgia College):

I’ve gone through not just one kilometer of Donbas with them, I’ve eaten with them from the same bowls, I slept next to them under the thunder of artillery, and right up to now I can’t forget the silence and empty looks of soldiers who had lost a comrade. It’s a silence that’s hard to forget. It eats into your thoughts with a strong feeling of guilt over your chance to live longer. For the first time in this war, it’s hard to hold back emotions. I don’t want to panic, but I don’t even have words to express it. It’s all terribly unfair! – with Semen Semenchenko.

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Expert: “The Kremlin Doesn’t Want to Occupy Ukraine, But Destroy It” – August 23, 2014

Gleb Vyshlinskyi, “The Kremlin Doesn’t Want to Occupy Ukraine, But Destroy It”
Novoe vremia, 23 August 2014, 10:32
Translated by William Risch, Georgia College

Translator’s note: Gleb Vyshlinskyi is assistant director of the GfK Ukraine research company

Putin wants to seize our souls and make us give up. He wants to deprive Ukrainians of happiness and a normal life and lead us to a point where a horrible end is better than horror without end. Flower shops are temples to happiness and a carefree life. Fancy and humble celebrations, first dates and hundredth dates, cannot happen without flowers. But the closest flower kiosk near my home will be closed as of September. It’s not just about the devaluation of the currency and the economic crisis – celebrations and happiness are in short supply.

The main question that has filled Ukrainians with alarm these last few months has been, “What does Putin want?” A hood brandishing a knife wants money and a phone, a separatist wants to separate his region into an individual state, and a terrorist wants to fulfill the demands he’s put forward. But since February 22, Putin has never said once what exactly should happen so that his state would leave us alone.

This very fact explains what Putin wants. He simply wants to deprive Ukrainians of happiness and a normal life, lead us to a point where a horrible end is better than horror without end. He wants to make us become weighed down in an atmosphere of constant fear, of crippling alarm and depression. That’s exactly why Putin is making us feel like the family of an aggressive drunk whose anger is unpredictable and inevitable. That’s why Donbas cities are shelled, why terrorist attacks are committed, and why dozens of sites in Kyiv are being “mined.”

“The worse, the better.” That is what Putin thinks about Ukraine when he wakes up. Unlike a drunk, Putin is completely rational. If he left us alone, there would have been a lot more reforms done in Ukraine already, investments would flow in, and happy citizens who’d overthrown a regime of thieves would direct their energy toward developing the economy. Could he really let that happen? Of course not – our example would seem too infectious for Russians. According to Levada Center polls, the share of people approving Putin’s job by November 2013 had fallen to 61 percent, the lowest such figures in 15 years. The economy, weary of his many years of rule, grew by only 1.3 percent. At the same time, GDP growth was 7.7 percent in China and 4.3 percent in Turkey.

“Crimea’s ours” and “civil war in Ukraine” have done their job. Putin’s approval rating in June shot up to the record numbers he had during the last war – the one with Georgia in 2008 – to 86 percent. The share of Russians confident that their country is going in the right direction has reached the record set at the beginning of 2008, Russia’s best year economically. Yet Russia’s impoverishment by sanctions and confrontation with the rest of the world is inevitable, and so success needs reinforcement. Ukraine must be strangled economically and shattered politically. Putin in fact is playing the Georgian scenario again: “a dangerous example of regime change and anti-Soviet reforms – war, intensified by powerful internal propaganda – economic blockade – regime change.”

This similarity gives us a chance to understand Putin’s further plans. Support a bloody conflict in the Donbas for as long as possible, without overstepping lines that could lead to truly crippling sanctions by the West. This benefits him in many ways. For the domestic audience, he can create the necessary scene of horrors that a violent change of regime is fraught with. For Ukrainians, every week of the war becomes human losses, spending on the army, and the destruction of the region’s social and industrial infrastructures, where 15 percent of the country’s population lived. And these are just direct losses. The indirect losses – like putting off business projects, investments not coming in, and flower kiosks closing – are much greater.

Along with squeezing out terrorists from the Donbas, they will change their roles into those of saboteurs who through terrorist acts keep the tensions’ heat up. Russian Federation soldiers will be standing at the border, making nervous and distracting Ukraine’s leadership with constant provocations. Ukrainian imports into Russia will be limited to the extreme, and in the gas sphere, the main task will be to make the winter of 2014-15 the coldest for Ukrainians, especially in the Donbas with its destroyed infrastructure. “The worse, the better” – that’s the thought Putin has about Ukraine when he wakes up each day.

How do you counter this? Don’t panic, do your own thing, remembering that exactly in that way you help the country and yourself. Be aware that the enemy at the gates is here for a long time, and that you can make a decent life in these conditions if you unite – Israel’s experience is proof of that. Don’t give in to provocations, which are the most important part of this war. Stories about “bad refugees,” frightening predictions of “intervention tomorrow,” that “soon the value of the hryvnia will be 20 per dollar,” atomize us and force us to use up our emotional energies in vain.

I remember that tragic week of February, which ended with the Saturday session of the Verkhovna Rada on the 22nd. That feeling of happiness and becoming clean after the first votes, when it all became clear that all that was not in vain. Putin wants to prove to us that it was in vain. He won’t succeed. We will return our happiness.

Original link:

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“Separatists” Still at Work in Severodonetsk? – August 21, 2014

Evropeis’ka Ukraina
21 August 2014

In Severodonetsk, Teachers Fired for Ukrainian Flags and Girls Beaten Up for “Glory to Ukraine!” Slogan (translated from Russian by William Risch, Georgia College)

Oleh Bashkatov, head of the city department of education in the liberated city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast, continues to “press down on” school teachers and directors, and he fires those who fly the Ukrainian flag and popularize Ukraine.

Serhiy Samarskyi, a city council deputy, said this on his Facebook page.

According to him, the official, Bashkatov, is a supporter of terrorists.

“If earlier he’d forced people to organize the referendum (on the status of the Luhansk People’s Republic, held May 11, 2014 – translator), then fired those who refused to conduct it, now he fires those who fly Ukrainian flags and popularize Ukraine,” wrote Samarskyi. “Bashkatov simply laughed off the ‘prophylactic discussion’ with ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) personnel, considering himself defended by the law, making use of protection from his partner and leader, deputy mayor Serhiy Tereshyn, who is now under the protection of law enforcement.”


The deputy also wrote that local residents are in shock at the fact that the police are protecting them.
“And just now, concerned residents of Hvardiyskyi Prospekt called me, ones who’d seen a man start beating up girls for calling out ‘Glory to Ukraine!’,” wrote Samarskyi.

“I want to warn people personally that if local and oblast law enforcement who’d occupied Severodonetsk don’t stop their indifference, and if residents of Severodonetsk again turn to the Aidar and Donbas battalions and so on to put the police ‘in their place,’ well we, and I, will support them.”


On July 22, ATO forces entered Severodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast and put up the state flag at the city council building. National Guard units and the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) took part in liberating the city in the Luhansk Oblast. City residents fervently greeted the Ukrainian soldiers: with applause, with Ukrainian flags, and with chants of “Thank you!” and “Glory to Ukraine!”

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An Open Letter from the Donbas to a Resident of Europe – August 20, 2014

Open Letter to a Resident of Europe

By S. A. Goncharov, Citizen of Ukraine, received by William Risch, Georgia College, through friends, August 20, 2014 (translated from Russian by William Risch):

From the author’s daughter: My father is 62 years old. He was among those who brought the first yellow-blue flag to my native Artemivsk in 1991. Now he called me and said, “I wrote a letter to a resident of Europe.” I don’t know. Maybe somebody will think it naïve, but he’s very sincere and honest. If you can, distribute it – let people read it. It’s a letter from an ordinary citizen of the Donbas and Ukraine.

Citizen of Europe, a simple man, a citizen of Ukraine, is speaking to you.

I was born in the last year of Stalin’s rule, seven years after the end of the Second World War. And right now, just like 75 years ago, a World War can start. I am saying this because I live on land where it can start. What is going on in Ukraine is not a conflict within a country, as the aggressor tries to portray it, but punishment of the people of Ukraine for striving for a normal life, without thieves in power, striving for one law for all, for equal and just living conditions. These principles are natural for you, but our people have had to sacrifice the lives of their patriots for them.

But this isn’t the main goal for the aggressor; it’s just an excuse to start a military conflict. Over the past twenty years, our neighbor Russia has simply bathed in an ideology that asserts superiority over other nations – in daily life, in art, and in television. Simple people like us feel this very strongly. The idea of being a superpower has crippled the consciousness of a majority of Russia’s population. And for the sake of this idea, they are ready to kill, and they’ve already started this in Ukraine. With the help of people who’ve been deceived and paid, they’ve entered the country, and they are trying to destroy it from within. Ukraine, which was plundered and bled dry by thieves from the past regime, is resurrecting its army with the help of ordinary citizens, and it is forming voluntary armed units. Simple people bring these soldiers food and uniforms, and they collect money for arms. We have great faith in the people dealing with this and winning, but at what price? How many lives of patriots, how many lives of peaceful citizens and children are Russian soldiers going to kill? It depends on you, too, citizen of a Europe that is for the moment still at peace. Your politicians are hiding their heads in the sand like ostriches, hiding from reality, by expressing their usual concern, and threatening Russia’s regime with sanctions, ones which do not really disturb it. They fear calling a spade a spade. Heavy weaponry and military personnel from Russia are entering Ukraine, and a full-scale WAR is being waged. More and more weaponry, more and more well-trained soldiers, are being drawn into action. The Boeing airliner shot down is proof of that.

Citizen of Europe! The people of Ukraine need your help. By helping us, you help yourselves, because Russia is violating the World’s system of collective security by bringing back the power of force instead of the power of the law. When Ukraine falls, you will be next. I ask you not to be indifferent to the fate of the World. Speak to your politicians, let them tell things as they really are and make the necessary decisions. You cannot stop war by appeasing the aggressor. The example with Hitler is telling. Not seeing serious reaction from the world community, Russia is expanding its amount of soldiers and equipment sent to Ukraine, and it could turn into an irreversible process. Then the World War could become reality. The time has come for our politicians to take strong action; help them. Let them not repeat the mistakes of 1932-33, when our people were killed by famine and our grain was sold to the West by a criminal regime. Ukraine needs up-to-date, precise defensive weaponry to protect peaceful citizens and patriots who still have yet to build a new Ukraine. Help Ukraine, and we, like during the times of the Golden Horde, will not let evil into Europe.

S. A. Goncharov, Citizen of Ukraine.

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Ukrainian Forces under Fire Near Iunokommunarivsk, August 16, 2014


Facebook Status Update from Roman Bochkala, August 20, 2014 (translated from Russian by William Risch, Georgia College):

And again, it’s about the 25th airmobile brigade. Nineteen in the “200 Truck” (killed in action – translator)… The tragedy happened the day before yesterday, in the area of Iunokommunarivsk, after being fired upon by GRAD rockets. The guys are ashamed that command has been silent about it. Thus they called and asked me to say what happened. On August 16, the 25th liberated Zhdanovsk. And, being a storm unit, they went further. To Ienakieve. They came to a halt along Iunokommunarivsk – they had to remove mines from a bridge. Periodically, our guys were assaulted with machinegun fire, with a low percentage hit. Overall, it was more or less okay. But then bombardment with rocket fire started, and it hit Ukrainian military positions with absolute precision. The airborne combat vehicle’s driver-mechanic said, “They flew like meteors. The sky burned. Then the ground burned. Three projectiles landed 10-15 meters from me. They sent a blast wave of about two meters, but not a single piece of shrapnel hit me. I wasn’t born with a shirt on, I was born with a flack jacket on.” By the way, at that moment, a lot of soldiers didn’t have helmets or flack jackets on – they’d taken them off because of the exhausting work and the heat. A majority of them died immediately because of fatal wounds. It was good that they could at least evacuate the dead. Bodies and remains have been delivered to the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. We mourn…

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