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A Letter to Russia from Donetsk

The following is a translation of an article that appeared on the Ukrainska Pravda website on 14 July 2014. It is interesting for the way it describes how sentiments toward Russia have changed among Eastern Ukrainians, especially among those who until recently considered themselves friendly toward Russia..This is a slightly adapted version of the translation that appeared on the Facebook page of Rascal N Dear.



A Letter to Russia from Donetsk

Denis Kazanskyj, for Ukrainska Pravda. 14 July 2014.

It just so happens that I am a native of Donetsk. That is nothing to be particularly proud of, but it’s a fact. I would still be living at home if a bunch of crazy fanatics supported by Russia had not arranged a war in my hometown and brought in Russian mercenaries.

Now there is a nightmare. Well, that you do know. That is what you are shown on your TV all day long, with disgusting details. So it’s better that we talk about what you are not being shown.

About 7 years ago I thought the same way as the majority of Russians. That thinking was typically Soviet. This is not surprising given that I have lived in the Donbas since birth.

Although I went to school after Ukraine’s independence, my education was typically Russian-Soviet. I was reared on Russian films, Russian music, and Russian books. I have long considered Russia a friendly country, a closely related country. But now all that is in the past.

Now I, those who are close to me, and the millions of Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine would never dare to call you a brotherly people.

We were your mental twins, who grew up with you on the same books and cartoons, have changed so much that we want to distance ourselves from you with a three-meter wall, as Israel does from Palestine. We look at the barcode at the supermarket so as not to buy what you produce because we want to avoid sponsoring the war.

For the first time in the history of our country, the majority of Ukrainians want to join NATO, because they understand that this is the only real salvation from a mad “brother” who suddenly decided to move against us with his troops.

Of course, for you it is difficult to understand the magnitude of this phenomenon. On TV you are shown a map on which Ukraine is split in half, and you are told that half of our country is not Ukraine, but something else. That the people who live there are not Ukrainians, but Russians.

You believe that this is so, but wonder why there is still no uprising. Judging by Russian newscasts, the area should be lighting up with revolutionary fire, but in fact exactly the opposite is happening.

For wearing the ribbon of St. George on the street in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, or Kherson, you now risk getting a punch in the face. We are not talking here about attacks from followers of Bandera. No, from Russian people, who in their childhood studied Pushkin and Blok. It is accepted as politically correct to say that we only hate Putin, and that the Russians are quite another matter. If Putin were to leave office, there would once again be peace and harmony. Everything would be fine again.

But it’s not true. It will not be that way.

The trouble is that Putin is the essence of the Russian mentality, the physical embodiment of your national idea in the form in which it now exists. You love Putin for what he did to Ukraine. So we will never be able to love you.

Putin used Russia to commit a great evil. He very skillfully burned bridges between us, like no one else in the world could have. The Americans, Jews, or Poles could never have succeeded as well as he. Some day you will understand the full horror of his actions, but right now you are blind.

Putin magically made you believe that the day of your moral decline is in fact the day of your triumph. He convinced you that the vile occupation of the territory of a friendly country, this banal rat-like underhandedness, is a great victory of which you should be proud. He evoked patriotic excitement by an act that should have been a source of shame and disgust.

And for that we despise not only Putin. We despise Russia, and that 90% of its people who, eyes bulging, scream “Crimea is ours!”

Sometimes I think that Putin is Satan. He is a professional at appealling to human vices. He forces you to display your dark side. He skillfully arouses the scum in you. He turns you into brutal, bloodthirsty beasts.

It’s not that Russians have been terrible while all the rest have been saints. There is a common thread in human nature. We have seen how in different historical periods the scum was awakened in Germans, Italians, Croats, Serbs, and others.

And Putin has awakened it in you. He has made you choke with hate in forums, seek war, rejoice in the occupation of foreign territory and in the deaths of people you once called your brotherly nation. He has incited you with primitive, base populism, displayed you in a bad light, at a moment of temporary insanity, and we, alas, will remember you exactly that way, and not as the nation of Sakharov and Dostoevsky.

Perhaps you are not even to blame. There may be some sort of algorithm to incite mass hysteria: Just press the desired button, show on TV the horror of children being crucified, and that’s all you need. From then on, society behaves completely predictably. He who needs this, just carries out a particular sequence of actions.

It is probably appropriate to treat you as victims of a social experiment. One day you will be very ashamed that you took part in this. Perhaps we should try to understand you. But we are no longer able to forgive you or overcome our contempt, even if someday you repent.

True, we should hide nothing. Putin has brought out the scum in us too. We rejoice when another load of 200 body bags crosses the border and goes to Rostov Oblast, or when a dozen or two of your men are turned into mincemeat. It’s horrible, but it’s true.

We rejoice for purely pragmatic reasons: because every dead “Colorado beetle” is no longer able to kill one of our countrymen. Because you are now enemies and occupiers who invaded our land. You stole Crimea and have come to kill us in the Donbas. It is horrible that, having attacked us, you are forcing us to become disgusted with ourselves. And this is another reason to break with you forever.

You interfered in the internal affairs of an independent state. You are shooting at the citizens of Ukraine on their own land, using your weapons, and approve of this on your TV. If you did not lie to yourselves that this is an action against fascists, that it is all justified and fair, then you would see that, in the eyes of the world, you are the aggressors.

Gone forever is the image of the liberator country, the winner over fascism. All this is in the past. Now you are occupiers, you are abusers through whose fault innocent people are being killed, and missiles are falling on cities that were living peacefully until you came. Your parades on May 9, and all that pathos, war songs, and eternal fires – all that is not worth anything anymore. It’s a lie.

We were tightly linked by common holidays, common wounds, common traditions, but now this has no meaning. You tore away a region with 2 million inhabitants and managed to delude 3-4 million brains with “crucified boys”. But the remaining 40 million Ukrainians, a huge mass of humanity, has insulated itself from you forever by a chasm.

You grabbed for yourself a piece of land, and you paid for it by losing the largest nation that was friendly to you. A few years ago, Brzezinski could not even have dreamed of such a geopolitical defeat for Russia.

You should not accuse the insidious wiles of America, Britain and Israel. Believe me, a Russian from Donetsk: No one has done more to stoke our mutual hatred than the crazy hysterical Glazyev, Kurginian, and Dugin who are calling for the killing of Ukrainians and advocate drowning Ukraine in blood, and Putin, who sent his “polite people” into our country.

We saw all this, we have committed all this to memory, and we will not forgive it.

Yes, no question that Russia is the largest country in the world, against which Ukraine is a mere dot on the map. You have nuclear missles, and we do not.

If you consider it heroic to attack someone who is obviously weaker than you, who did not expect a vile stab in the back from you, and who was not preparing for war with you, that is your choice. But do not expect either respect or sympathy from us. For us, Russia is now a despicable “banana republic of evil.”

Of course, your media will not tell you this. They create the illusion of a huge schism in Ukraine between Ukrainian fascists and Russians, but there is no such thing. There are a couple million marginal people–Communists, Stalinists, the Black Hundreds, Orthodox fundamentalists–who have always hated Ukraine and act like your collaborators in the conflict today. And there are 39-40 million Ukrainians who disagree with them.

Putin forced all of us to make a radical choice: for or against Ukraine. And we had to make that choice. What has happened is something that you still do not understand: Russian aggression in Ukraine was supported by those who have always been sympathizers. But through this aggression, 40 million people who had always been either loyal to you or neutral, have become your enemies.

Forty million Ukrainians have been forced to become “Banderites” in your understanding of that word. This is Putin’s greatest achievement.

There are unfriendly governments. They can be in conflict. One can impose sanctions on them. But you cannot humiliate nations, because rulers come and go but the nations remain.

Poroshenko and Turchynov will leave. Most likely very quickly. Your treacherous seizure of Crimea, your vile incursion, your tanks and MANPADS in Donbas–these will not pass. We simply won’t be able explain to our children in their textbooks, why you did this to us.

You have just pushed away the Southeast, which you consider to be yours. Believe it or not, “krip” and “khokhly” [derogatory Russian terms for Ukrainians.] have pride too. While you have fits of joy because “Crimea is ours,” for us this means only one thing, that Crimea is not ours.

You stole Crimea equally from “Banderites” and “Russian-speaking compatriots.” You stole Crimea from Dmytro Yarosh, but you equally stole it from residents of Kharkiv, Poltava and Odesa. You spit at all of us indiscriminately, regardless of language and religion, with your characteristic stupid swagger.

Earlier you used to say “We are Slavic brothers,” and we would agree. Now you say,- “lard eaters” and “Ukes” and it offends everyone who has a Ukrainian surname or holds a Ukrainian passport, regardless of whether he supports joining the EU or the Customs Union. By humiliating everyone, you left us with no choice.

In the spring, Russian “tourists” tore down and trampled on Ukrainian flags in Donetsk, and hung their own flags in their place. This makes you different from Europeans. They never trample on our symbols.

Those who are for the European Union hang its flag alongside the Ukrainian flag, not instead of it. That is why we chose Europe, and now we will not retreat from that decision. In the current situation there is only one path, because now only someone who is completely psycho or suicidal can integrate with you.

If you still believe that there is a war in Donbas between “local militias” and “the junta,” then I hasten to correct you: it isn’t so. The war that is in progress here was orchestrated from beginning to end by you. You don’t have to believe me, but ask yourself why the “Donetsk Republic” is run by Russian citizens. Why is my native Donetsk now commanded by muscovites like Girkin (Strelkov) and Borodai?

I, a native of Donetsk, did not know them and did not invite them. I did not vote for them. If this is not the occupation of Donbas by Russia, then why are they here? And how do they differ from the German Gauleiters? Is it difficult to find 10 differences?

If you sympathize with the “militias” because they are Russians, I can assure you there are hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians who disagree with them and who themselves are suffering from their actions.

It would be better if you empathized with these people. With those whose cars have been confiscated, who have been thrown into dungeons over some silly accusations, and whom your Igor Strelkov uses as a human shield, behaving in our city like Shamil Basayev in Budennovsk.

If you want to empathize with the residents of the Southeast, empathize with the 38 soldiers from Dnipropetrovsk who died in a plane shot down using your MANPADS. Empathize with the soldiers from Mykolayiv who were burned in their APCs. To what degree do you think their parents, relatives, and friends now love Russia?

If you want to know the truth what the “Donetsk Republic” really is, try to turn off the TV, close your eyes, and imagine for a moment that someone armed all the drug addicts and criminals of your city. That insane veterans of the Chechen wars, drunk retirees, tattoo-covered recidivists, bull-like bouncers, crazed cossacks, Tolkienists, Limonovites, and skinheads have suddenly been issued weapons and granted unlimited power.

Have you imagined it? If so, then there is no need to explain anything more to you. The same sort of republic can quite easily be created anywhere. Simply remove the name “Donetsk” and substitute “Saratov,” “Chelyabinsk,” or “Rostov”.

Do you think I am slandering the “militia”? Then simulate the situation: There is no police, no authority, and weapons are freely available. What will happen in your town? Be honest; admit it to yourself. It is simple enough to destabilize a situation, to foment a senseless and merciless insurrection in a socially disadvantaged area populated by the lumpenmass and the unemployed. Borodai, Strelkov, Babai, and Motorola only lit the fire, and then the flames caught, as in the Civil War.

“Give us a republic”, “steal what was already stolen,” and “we will build a new paradise: Novorossiya.”

Suffice to say, the repressive organs of the terrorists in Luhansk are called the KGB and SMERSH. And this is no joke. Place your hand on your heart, and ask yourself: Is this normal, and would you like for such an institution to be active in your neighborhood?

Weekdays in Donetsk over the last two months have been filled with looting, kidnapping and robbery. Read the local news from Donetsk. In just one week from June 16 to 23, 47 cars and one motorcycle were confiscated or stolen. 42 cars were seized on the road by armed men. Unknown persons kidnapped 14 people. This is official information from the mayor.

And then there are the photographs of the Metro Cash ‘n’ Carry supermarket, which the whole world saw. It was also robbed by the “unfortunate militia.”

I could go on and on, but what’s the point? Euphoric states have their own rules. The subject experiences them, even if it is an entire people who is responding poorly to external stimuli. “Crimea is ours” is like a drug or like love: it clouds your awareness.

It will take time for you to let go, and for you to understand that nothing has changed. Crimea did not become closer, did not become cheaper, did not become cleaner, or more comfortable to visit.

And there you are, a whole people, the biggest country in the world. You have stained yourselves with the shame of aggression and imposed on your children the burden of being descendants of the invaders and Gauleiters Girkin and Borodai. Sad but true.

Good luck.


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