News / Europe

Donetsk Russians Say Only Putin Can Save Them

A participant wears a Russian flag during a pro-Russian rally outside the regional administration in Donetsk, March 17, 2014.
A participant wears a Russian flag during a pro-Russian rally outside the regional administration in Donetsk, March 17, 2014.
It is a frigid evening in Donetsk's Lenin Square, but the cold has not deterred a small crowd from maintaining a weeks-long protest against the new Ukraine government in Kyiv. They say they want to follow Crimea and break with Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Denis, 70, says the new government in Kyiv is making everyone poorer and the people of eastern Ukraine can't live with the politicians of the capital anymore.

Vera, 62, says she'd like Donetsk to stay in Ukraine but that ethnic Russians are being forced to ask Putin to help because the politicians in Kyiv don't care about the east of Ukraine and they just think of themselves.

Donetsk is in the heart of the Donbass coalfield and is one of Ukraine's major industrial cities. The activists in Lenin Square are demanding the release of an activist who briefly proclaimed himself "people's governor" of the region this month.

And they praise the actions of Russian separatists in Crimea, who stormed Wednesday a Ukrainian naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. This is a day after Crimean leaders signed a treaty with Russia absorbing the peninsula into the Russian Federation after a disputed referendum.

Ukraine's new leaders are becoming increasingly anxious about the protests in the eastern Ukraine cities that are home to large numbers of ethnic Russians. Protests have mounted, and over the weekend violence flared when more than 5,000 pro-Russian protesters roamed central Donetsk smashing doors and windows and forcing entry to government buildings.

Three have died in the recent protests in eastern Ukraine.

Kyiv's politicians claim Moscow has been infiltrating Russian provocateurs to incite much of the agitation - an allegation also leveled by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  The Kremlin denies this and has warned it is ready to send forces massed on the border to protect ethnic Russians - the initial reason given for seizing Crimea.

Pro-Russian activists deny the claims, flashing their Ukrainian passports to show they come from Donetsk.

The country's new leaders, who replaced President Viktor Yanukovych ousted in February after months of street protests against his rule, are trying to dampen ethnic Russian agitation by offering reforms.

They are promising greater decentralization while preserving the unity of Ukraine, which will give the regions, cities, and districts broad powers and the funding needed for their development.

But one of the first moves by Ukraine's parliament after Yanukovych fled to Russia still rankles here. The lawmakers passed legislation abolishing a law that allows regions to use Russian as a second official language. The acting president vetoed that abolition but ethnic Russians point to it as evidence showing what Kyiv really thinks of them.

Artyom, a 36-year-old small businessman, says it is too late for reforms. Donetsk should be part of the Russian Federation and says that would be best.

Despite President Putin's indication Tuesday that he has no more designs on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainians fear that he may now be preparing more land-grabs of ethnic Russian-dominated areas.

Images from Ukraine

  • Armed Russian sailors walk near the Ukrainian ship Slavutich in Sevastopol, March 20, 2014.
  • The Ukrainian ship Slavutich is seen blocked by two Russian ships at the harbor in Sevastopol, March 20, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian soldier closes an entrance gate at the air force base in the Crimean town of Belbek, March 20, 2014.
  • Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard at the top of a chimney located near the naval headquarters, with Russian flags installed nearby, in Sevastopol, March 19, 2014.
  • Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk on the territory of the naval headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 19, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian naval officer carries his belongings as he walks out of the territory of the naval headquarters, with armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, seen nearby, in Sevastopol, March 19, 2014.
  • Members of Crimean self-defense units walk in formation while leaving the territory of the naval headquarters in Sevastopol, March 19, 2014.
  • Workers put up a new sign reading "State Council of the Crimean Republic" at the parliament building in Simferopol, March 19, 2014.
  • Workers remove old letters from the Crimea parliament building in Simferopol, March 18, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian people watch a live broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech on Crimea in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 18, 2014.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: NewGenTime from: Oregon (at Nikolaeyev)
March 23, 2014 10:50 AM
While Russia provides order, the Maidan and the exit of Yanukovich is a rejection of corruption AND Putin's forcing Ukraine away from free and open trade with Europe. Europe is a better deal for Ukraine, and for Russia actually, and Yanukovich's clan system and corruption could have never survived the requirements of the Association agreement with the EU. My favorite factions are the Ultras (futbol fans who do not care about politics though are offended that the police are abusing "Ukrainian citizens" :) and the people of Chasno (translated as "Honesty") who are monitoring the transparency of the reforms and the political change in Kiev...their demands are simple... the process must be open, where the money goes must be transparent, and politicians must not enrich themselves or be millionaires. The USA could benefit from this also :) --- this is the promise of the Maidan and of course the Russian system, the Donetsk mafia, and Yanukovich do not want this... and will use the army to teach the idealist children of the Maidan a lesson in power. I hope their force will fail... Ukraine deserves peace and honesty.

by: free from: earth
March 21, 2014 3:36 AM
I think ukranians are used as tool to fight against RUSSIA. No one care crap about ukraine or freedom or corruption. This is war against russia and putin basically. Western ukranians are stupid people , i undertsand that they want to be part of europe. Why not just divide ukraine and move any ukranian from east to west and move any russians live in west to east and spit ukraine. This is only way to solve it. West wants every country as slave state like greek. This is about controlling the world. If i am in ukraine i will join russia. Because longer they are with ukraine it going to be brutal war because WEST will supply arms to hurt russia. Ukraininas is only people going to die for nothing except for their stupity of thinking they can be with WEST. its like your kid calling someone as father. Russia will not allow it. No country allow it. Because if russia allows NATO will put missiles in Ukraine against russia. WEST do not care first nuke hits ukraine. Seriously ukraine wake up. Eastern ukraine just join russia and stay alive.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 19, 2014 1:30 PM
Riots have been incited in Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey and Tunisia and they have all in one way or another failed to achieve the protagonist's agenda. In Syria, the story is different. In Ukraine it has taken a different turn so that those inciting the protests seem be having a rethink. So they now think someone paying them in their own coin by playing into their 18yard box when a spillover of their stock in Kiev into Donetsk begins to stare them in the face worrying whether Russia is going to cash in on it to equally annex further lands. But the gentleman Putin says that's not his ball game. Maybe we should agree with him and let the situation be. But really, what should be the fate of those Russians still in Ukraine itching to rejoin their kits and kins in Russia? Continuing to hold them to Ukraine against their will, does it augur well for democracy?
In Response

by: Anonymous from: Ukraine
March 19, 2014 1:43 PM
>>Continuing to hold them to Ukraine against their will, does it augur well for democracy? well, the majority of those who wanted to be in Russia already immigrated there. It's hardly believable that there are too many pro-Russian, most of them are old people who want Russian pensions.

by: Anna from: Donetsk
March 19, 2014 12:56 PM
why there is any opposite opinion? I'm sure (coz i'm local) that 90% dont want to become the part of Russia! many of them didnt support maidan, but at the same time they feel satisfied to be Ukrainians. And they also dont think that is required to come on rally to main square to shout about it! this is norm! Donetsk - is Ukraine!
In Response

by: Roman from: Donetsk
March 20, 2014 7:01 AM
Of course I haven't any material proves of the election results in Crimea, but all people that I know from Crimea are now really fantastically glad that they voted to join Russia. And I don't know anyone who voted against joining.
In Response

by: Roman from: Belarus
March 20, 2014 2:09 AM
Ok. And can you say about Crimea? Is it real will of people to join Russia or it's just rigged election?
In Response

by: Roman from: Donetsk
March 19, 2014 11:34 PM
Me, all my relatives, all my friends and acuaintances and their relatives, friends and acuaintances and so on are just tired from that 20-year failed experiment off so-called independence in Ukraine! It brought to russians who are the most part of the population of eastern region nothing but ruin and hoplessness. We want to reunite with Russia again!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs