[Marxism] Silent suffering for Donetsk critics of ‘Kafka-esque’ poll - European News | Latest News from Across Europe | The Irish Times - Mon, May 12, 2014

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 12 20:08:51 MDT 2014


Silent suffering for Donetsk critics of ‘Kafka-esque’ poll
Opponents of referendum stay away from poll they consider fixed

by Daniel McLaughlin

Dmitry Pavlov stopped outside a polling station in central Donetsk, made 
no move to go in and pointed to the face on his T-shirt in explanation.

“I put this on especially today,” he said. “It kind of sums up what is 
happening here.”

It was the face of Franz Kafka.

“The so-called referendum is bullshit. It’s all been decided far in 
advance,” said Pavlov (28), who works in sales for one of the coal 
companies that are a mainstay of the rustbelt Donetsk region.

“It’s already fixed that 90 per cent of people, or something like that, 
will vote for independence,” he said

‘People’s republic’

Pavlov was one of the few dissenting voices to be heard in Donetsk 
yesterday, as separatists held a vote on whether their “people’s 
republic” should break from a Ukraine that they – and Moscow – claim is 
now run by a Russian-hating junta with fascist tendencies.

“Hardly any young people will vote today, but the older generation 
will,” said Pavlov, explaining that opponents of a split from Kiev would 
simply stay at home.

“My parents, in their 70s, are voting in favour. They don’t listen to 
me, but believe 100 per cent the propaganda on Russian television. They 
are the type of people who were last in Kiev 10 years ago and have never 
been to western Ukraine or Europe. They are still living in 1989 and are 
sure life will be better with Russia. ”

Several voters did lament the demise of the Soviet empire, but Pavlov 
was wrong to assume that only older people would back independence – a 
move that many here see as a step towards unification with Russia, as 
happened in Crimea.

Hundreds of men of all ages have taken up arms to seize official 
buildings around the region, and some of Pavlov’s contemporaries in the 
east are among the most ardent supporter of separation from Ukraine.

“Why are those people on Maidan allowed to give their opinion, and here 
it is illegal?” asked voter Natalya Tokar, referring to the Kiev square 
at the epicentre of pro-western protests that ousted Donetsk-born 
president Viktor Yanukovich.

“We have a different mentality to people in western Ukraine, and we 
don’t need the EU. Donetsk should be in the Customs Union, ” she added, 
in support of a Moscow-led trade bloc that comprises Russia, Belarus and 

‘Better if we join Russia’

Recent surveys suggest most easterners do not want to split from 
Ukraine, but a vote considered illegal by Kiev and the west was unlikely 
to reflect their views. “For 20 years our governments did nothing and 
now, when this new one is trying to change things, people here don’t 
understand. They are scared of change,” said Pavlov.

“People here want stability – for their small salary to be paid, a 
little piece of meat each day. They think life will be 10 percent, or 20 
per cent better if we join Russia,” he added.

“Okay, things are bad in Ukraine, but at least we have some freedom of 
thought. Is freedom only worth this 10 or 20 per cent?”

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