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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
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Eyewitness Report from Ukraine: ‘You Can Feel the Tension in the Air’

"Everyone is expecting some development... it seems like the region is on the brink of war."
The synagogue in Nikolayev, Ukraine was firebombed at 2 am this past Sabbath morning.

The synagogue in Nikolayev, Ukraine was firebombed at 2 am this past Sabbath morning.
Photo Credit: Yisrolik Gottlib

DRUZHKOVA, UKRAINE – Tensions continue to mount in eastern Ukraine, as no obtainable solution is in sight. Reports of casualties continue to stream out of the provinces in dispute, and the residents of Ukraine don’t know what new reality they may encounter on a daily basis.

Most Ukrainians talk of a link to the West, but those in the east of the country feel a part of Russia. The Ukrainian Government has engaged in military action to maintain the entirety of its sovereign territory, a move which has brought to the escalation in violence and the rise in the death toll. As the two governments continue to wage battle, it seems the main question is how the Ukrainian residents of the east really view themselves; are they western Russians or eastern Ukrainians? Sergey Ovechinikov, a former resident of the eastern Donetsk Province talked to Tazpit News Agency about what he experienced in the past weeks and where he believes eastern Ukraine is headed.

Sergey lives in Cyprus and often visits his family who reside in the city of Druzhkovka, in northern Donetsk Province. “Everyone is expectant of some development; you can feel the tension in the air. I saw people erecting barricades in the city. I never thought I would see anything like this in my city. No one knows who is manning the barricades, some are locals, but they are surely organized by someone”

Sergey is apprehensive of the precarious security situation in the streets, describing a situation which is on the threshold of anarchy. “You get the sense the people really want to fight; some of the people manning the barricades are armed. There is currently no police force in the city. They withdrew, and there is a Russian flag flying over the police headquarters. All government buildings have Russian flags flying from them.”

Sergey points out that not all the residents of the area wish to become Russian citizens. Some have expressed objection to the flying of the Russian flags. “People have different opinions,” explains Sergey, “The streets seem to say that everyone wants to join Russia, but I don’t think everyone wants to make this move. Those who oppose unifying with Russia are afraid to voice their opinions, as they are the minority. Most of the population is Pro-Russian. At a situation close to war another view point is not relevant and no one wants to hear it. It seems like the region is on the brink of a civil war.”

Regardless of their political aspirations, all fear the pending economical collapse. “Everyone fears that their factories will shut down and they will lose their jobs.  The Ukraine Hryvnia has plummeted, and there is no fuel for heating in the area,” says Sergey.

Fear seems to be the primary sentiment expressed about the future in the region. “People fear that the new Ukrainian government will hunt down those are generating the pro-Russian actions. There are street battles between pro-Russian activities and pro-Ukrainian nationalists, although the majority here is hostile to anything Ukrainian – the flag, national anthem, state symbols and language. I think east Ukraine will never unify with the rest of the country,” concludes Sergey.

Ukraine’s future is shrouded in uncertainty, but it is clear the current course of change is unalterable. One is only left to hope the violence will not be the main actor in this change of scenes.

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3 Responses to “Eyewitness Report from Ukraine: ‘You Can Feel the Tension in the Air’”

  1. “Sergey who lives in Cyprus” is may be an interesting person, if we think about all the Russian crime busness on that Greek “off-shore island”… But anyway, how can one say, that “the most people in East Ukraine want to separate” their own country and to add Putin’s Russian paradise of autocracy, when the native Russians in East Ukraine are only 28% of all people living there (the most of the native Russians don’t have double citizenship, but only the Ukrainian, they are common people, who love their country Ukraine) and the so called pro-Russian separatists are nothing more than GRU infiltrated bandits – how could it be? — Here is an article from last spring, April 2013 (!), in which you can read (in the time of the old Ukrainian officials!, and they were very close to Kremlin) the statistics, that only 80.000 Ukrainian citizens have not only the Ukrainian but the Russian citizenship too in Spring 2013. http://ukrainianweek.com/Security/77286

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