News / Europe

    Donetsk Minorities Fear Intolerance from Increased Russian Influence

    Ethnic Minorities in Donetsk Fear Intolerance from Increased Russian Influencei
    X
    Patrick Wells
    May 20, 2014 7:54 PM
    Donetsk -- in eastern Ukraine -- is a cosmopolitan city, home to Tatars, Jews, Turks, Greeks and international students who come from all over the world to study medicine. But some among the city's minorities fear that increased Russian influence will lead to intolerance of ethnic and religious diversity. Patrick Wells reports from Donetsk.
    Patrick Wells
    Donetsk - in eastern Ukraine - is a cosmopolitan city, home to Tatars, Jews, Turks, Greeks and international students who come from all over the world to study medicine.  But some among the city's minorities fear that increased Russian influence will lead to intolerance of ethnic and religious diversity. 
     
    After six long years of study, a group of Jordanian students have finally qualified as medical doctors.  But this is not a university in Amman, this is Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.  

    Thousands of students from around the world come here to take advantage of affordable tuition fees.  But now the university is telling them to go home, fearing it cannot guarantee their safety in the current political climate.   
     
    “If I want to analyze the risk in Donetsk, now it's more tense.  Before, there was risk, but now it’s more high.  We have many risks we are now facing,” said Nigerian medical student Adiboayo Agboola.
     
    Some students said they have faced increased suspicion and racist abuse since the pro-Russian separatist  movement began.

    Michael, a dentistry student from Botswana, said separatists recently shouted racial slurs at him and his friends in the street.
     
    “I was in a situation recently where I was associated with Obama because we are of the same color and they hate that guy.  So they thought we should just go back to our country. So it’s very difficult in that situation,” he said.
     
    Donetsk is also home to Tatars, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks and Jews, many of whom say they have enjoyed increased freedom of identity and religion since the fall of the Soviet Union.  
     
    Mufti Said Ismagilov heads the local Muslim community on the outskirts of Donetsk.  He said Muslims In Ukraine enjoyed many more rights and freedoms than their co-religionists across the border in Russia.
     
    “The most important reason why we support Ukraine is that there are many rights and freedoms for us here in Ukraine, which give us the opportunity to develop here.  If we compare Ukraine and Russia, here it is much better,” he said.
     
    Ismagilov also fears what separation from Ukraine and increased Russian influence here might mean for the region's many religious ethnic minorities.
     
    “There was and there still is trust between people from different religions and cultures: Christians, Jews, and atheists.  We can easily find a common language.  There is no xenophobia fascism or racism here.  There are no skinheads, like in Russia,” he said.
     
    As preparations continue for this Sunday's presidential election, many hope the results will create a system of governance that will continue to protect the rights of minorities.
     
    But election officials say they are facing intimidation and threats in parts of eastern Ukraine and it’s unclear whether the vote will go ahead in these areas.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora