in the Donbass, the pro-Russian blues

by time news
in the Donbass, the pro-Russian blues

Nobody on the line. In Pokrovsk, one of the last cities in the Donbass under Ukrainian control still spared by Russian artillery, the local deputies of the pro-Russian opposition Platform-For Life party no longer pick up the telephone. Like nearly half of the city’s 60,000 residents, most fled with their families. If they continue to participate in city council meetings, it is by videoconference. And « 4 or 5 » simply disappeared, says a local politician.

« 50 % of prorusses »

First opposition party after the 2019 legislative elections, Opposition Platform-For Life, led in particular by Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician close to Vladimir Putin and now accused of treason, disintegrated in a few weeks.

→ REPORT. In Pokrovsk, with the last evacuees from Donbass

In Parliament first, but also in the regions of eastern Ukraine where the party remained dominant: the deputies of many municipal councils thus announced the self-dissolution of local party formations. A measure which allowed them to keep their seats as MPs under an independent label but which could also reflect a fundamental change in the political life of the country.

A population skeptical of Ukrainian power

“Before the war, there were at least 50% pro-Russians here,” ensures Rouslan Trebouchkine, the mayor of Pokrovsk, proudly walking around a park renovated two years ago. “Today, we do not exceed 20%”, he adds. A vague and unverifiable assertion. In the Donbass, which the fear of the Russian assault has largely emptied of its inhabitants, it is indeed impossible to measure the evolution of the population, which has long remained skeptical of the Ukrainian power resulting from the Maidan revolution.

“Why did it have to be started, this war? », wonders Lioudmila, sitting on a bench in the center of Pokrovsk, a pair of crutches by her side. For this 67-year-old retiree, who is waiting for her daughter to take her to the bus station, it is on the side of the Ukrainian government that we must seek responsibility for the current situation. “Especially from Turchinov”, she says.

The fear of the Maidan

Having become interim president after Viktor Yanukovych fled to Moscow, Oleksandr Tourchinov had, in April 2014, announced the launch of a “anti-terrorist operation” aimed at regaining control of eastern Ukraine, which has become the scene of clashes with pro-Russian separatists. “It all started with the Maidan”, also thinks Tania. In front of the closed doors of the local branch of the Ukrainian pension service, she expresses a usual weariness in a region where the war has been raging for nearly eight years. “We just want peace, nothing else”, she repeats.

Finishing his cigarette in front of a train car heading for Dnipro, Liouda places the pivotal moment after the Maidan: « Ils (Ukrainian government) never wanted to apply the Minsk agreements”, she is indignant, referring to these peace agreements signed in February 2015 and supposed to put an end to the conflict. Never implemented, either by kyiv or by the separatist groups, these agreements were shattered with the Russian invasion of February 24.

And rather than the figure of Oleksandr Tourtchinov, it is that of Alexandre Lebed that Lyuda, a shopkeeper present in Pokrovsk three days a week to run a small store, evokes. In 1996, the famous Russian general led the negotiations for the end of the first war in Chechnya. “He was trained to make war, he made peace, she exclaims. This is what we need! »

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