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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora