[Marxism] Life inside the Donetsk People's Republic

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 27 06:47:09 MDT 2014

Except at their headquarters, the separatists are rarely seen in the 
city. When they do appear in public, as they did briefly Tuesday, 
descending from an armored vehicle on a city street to display their 
weapons and insist they were keeping order, their actions seem more like 
intimidation than anything else.

People glance around nervously as they speak of the separatists. Some 
critics have been beaten.

"They can chase you, track you down," said a local businesswoman who 
asked to be identified only as Angela.

A Donetsk teacher named Antonina said she and her family received death 
threats from the separatists because she was on the local election 
commission preparing for the presidential vote. She said gunmen stormed 
a meeting and seized all the voting documents.

"I am really scared for my children," she said, asking that her last 
name not be used.

Meanwhile, in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region where rebels and 
Ukrainian troops have been trading gunfire for weeks, an angry crowd of 
200 heckled a separatist commander Tuesday, complaining that the rebels 
were drawing retaliatory fire toward their homes.

"They must stop with this banditry so that there can be peace!" resident 
Lina Sidorenko said. "How much longer can this go on? We had a united 
country and now look what's happened."

In Donetsk, though, life functions despite the separatists. Schools, 
stores and offices are open. The city's streets are busy. The summer 
heat has come early this year and the parks are full of young couples. 
The police and the city's elected officials are lying low but basic 
services — water, electricity, the fire department — are operating normally.

Pushilin acknowledges his movement emerged in "a chaotic way" but 
clearly wants it to look serious.

On Monday, the separatists called the first meeting of their Supreme 
Council, gathering in an auditorium in their headquarters. About 20 
percent of the group was armed, carrying everything from hunting knives 
to assault rifles. A handful wore body armor. There was an abundance of 
homemade tattoos, a variety of camouflage and lots of tight black T-shirts.

Few in the room, including the organizers, appeared to know what to do.

After selecting a deputy for the Supreme Council — the vote for the only 
candidate was unanimous — an official announced that people were needed 
to staff various departments. A young man walked to the front of the 
auditorium, took the microphone and said he wanted a job.

"I want to do something with agriculture," he said. His campaign speech 
was short: "Will you vote for me? Please support me."

A few hands went up, apparently votes in his favor, but someone else 
grabbed the microphone and asked the man to sit down. Other people stood 
to make speeches. An angry man wanted to discuss a possible 
constitution. The new deputy speaker spoke about the need to find 
experts for the foreign ministry.

As the situation grew increasingly chaotic, Pushilin, facing the 
gathering from the stage, took the microphone.

"You are acting like you are in a kindergarten and not a Supreme 
Council!" he said, glaring at the room, which quickly went silent. Many 
people hung their heads. "I feel ashamed."

Minutes later, the session was adjourned. There was no word if the young 
man's hopes for a job had materialized.


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