Begin the ATO with yourself

By Oleksiy Vasylyuk, ecologist, special report for Ukrayinska Pravda.Life
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

The idea of blocking the border is seen in eastern Ukraine as the last argument that the ATO’s purpose is to exterminate the residents of Donbas.

I beg you, look for friends in Donbas and ask them what is really going on there.

“How are you there, on the other side of the hill?”
–”Urfin Jus” band

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 11.07.17 AM

Every one of us loves one particular locale most of all. For some, it is a native hut in a village or a favorite vacation spot.

My favorite spot on the globe is Donbas. I don’t of course mean the industrial agglomerations, but the wild part of the Donets Ridge, which is mostly preserved in Luhansk Oblast [region]. Up until this spring, I traveled here several times every year.

I decided to write this column because every day I talk to a dozen, maybe even more acquaintances from Luhansk–and Donetsk Oblasts–and hear from them what most readers of Ukrayinska Pravda [UP] don’t.

Being a native of Kyiv Oblast, just like the rest of my fellow natives, I once thought that Donbas was dug-up coal mines [illegal mines], slagheaps and smoky pipes… Until I ended up there for the first time of course, I obviously could not imagine how enchanted I would become with this region.

It turned out that I have never seen more beautiful landscapes [than here], that there is ancient architecture here, that people in old rural areas live in houses built by the Cossacks 150 years ago… It appears that here live people who don’t care what language you speak–they can all speak Ukrainian in the villages of Luhansk Oblast.

I did not know all this.

For the media traditionally create the brand of Donbas as a stained place, where endemic Bydlo lives. It is not the place where you would want to take your friends on vacation.

Of course, I’m talking mostly about the sparsely populated areas of the steppe and not the industrial Donbas. However, this rural area in particular is where the ATO is taking place. There is much less information about this territory.

And this is where the people are least protected.

Last year, when there was no war, my friends from different oblasts [of Ukraine] and I traveled to the wildest corner of Donbas–to Nagolnyi Kryazh in Luhansk Oblast, in the outskirts of Sverdlovsk. Together with the head of the village council, in 5 years we have secured the creation of the most valuable reserve in the Oblast and brought [Ukrainian] tourists as well as foreign [tourists] here each year.

[Oleksandr] Bryhynets [Ukrainian politician and poet] brought books to the library of Nagolno-Tarasivka village, collected by residents of Obolon [Kyiv district]. In this village, ancient Cossack houses were preserved. Residents are unaware that their abodes are over a hundred years old, and that they were built with all the devices for protection against Tatar raids.

Today, Russian mercenaries walked through Nagolnyi Kryazh to Ukraine, because the border is close [to it]. And nothing is being blocked there.

Every day I speak on the phone with locals from different raions [districts] of Luhansk Oblast and hear absolutely different data from what I can read on Twitter and in Ukrainian media.

Most people here are not informants of any national media and don’t have accounts on FB and Twitter. But unlike you and me, convoys of insurgents are traveling on their streets and looting is taking place in their homes.

And, most importantly, the media still continue to create an image of these people as enemies of Ukraine.

It is a pity that the national media covering the events in eastern Ukraine, won’t talk about the majority of what is happening. The situation is illuminated at an angle, that we for some reason have to hate the residents of the East more. I do not understand why, and in whose interests it happens, but I’m sure that we all must prevent this hatred.

People are terrified. On the one hand, unidentified insurgents drive through their villages, taking away property and cars, threatening them with murder. On the other hand, the Internet screams that in this corner of Ukraine lives the “bydlo that must be exterminated…”

Residents of the East are the same as all of us. While it is true, living there is much more difficult than in the majority of other Oblasts.

What is happening today?

While the ATO has not been rolled out in full force [Ed. Note: today, July 15, marks the 10th day of the active phase of the ATO], many easterners temporarily moved to central and western Ukraine. Now, the communications are cut, and aside from the big cities, people cannot move to western Ukraine.

It’s no secret that Russian propaganda twisted everything up to the point that people are not joking in their fears that outside Donbas they will be perceived simply as separatists and killed.

And that’s the main thing–we have arrived at the issue of border blocking.

I added fuel to the fire myself by telling about the necessity to close the border. Thanks to mass responses to the report I realized the main fact:

Most people in the far east have relatives in Russia. Now they are all wound up that they won’t be able to escape to a quiet part of Ukraine. The last hope for the people whose villages are in war–is to escape to Russia. And here–the central theme–is the closure of the border.

The media in the east are winding people up a lot that this war is happening in order to free the area for shale gas exploration. As in, some [people] would be destroyed, some would flee, and finally no one would prevent them from extracting gas. Many people believe in this and join the [separatist] militia with a sincere desire to save the [area] at the price of their families…

The idea of blocking the border is seen in eastern Ukraine as the last argument that the purpose of the ATO is to exterminate the residents of Donbas. Occupiers really tried for everyone to believe in this and to join the militia. It’s needless to imagine what to expect from people who believe massively that we are coming to kill them.

No ATO will be successful until the residents of Donbas cease to feel themselves as hunted beasts.

I beg you, look for friends in Donbas and ask them what is really going on there.

I had known about Chechens and the looting long before this was written by the UP. I knew that the destruction of a terrorist training base glorified by the media is fiction, because I have someone to call there to find out the truth. A shell fell into a pond near the base, where, however, there was no one.

When the media talked about four [people] killed in Luhansk, many acquaintances told me of a much larger number of corpses that were easily seen from a house window. And so it went every day…

I am more surprised with another thing: most acquaintances from the East definitively say that in the south of Luhansk Oblast, there are three armies fighting at once. At least three forces verify the locals by their passports, looking for spies.

Today, the total background in the media is directed at the fact that we should destroy the terrorist breed…

And no one says that we have to stop being enemies of 6 million Ukrainians living in Donbas.

And now is the very moment when there is nowhere to go any longer.

Today, they are going to fight against the Ukrainian army, defending themselves.

…I remembered a song from the “Urfin Jus” band: “Only a rain of fire will purify the other side of the hill.”

Let’s not allow the media to altogether make enemies of us with the easterners.

We are all told from all sides that we are enemies. The more cognizant we are, the more often we have to ask them: “How are you there, on the other side of the hill?”

Besides helping the army, help these people to believe that we do not want to kill them!

And above all–this is a task for the President. And begin the ATO with yourself.


This entry was posted in Beyond Politics, English, Languages, Media, News, Opinions, Others, Pictures, Regіons, South&Eastern Ukraine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Begin the ATO with yourself

  1. Pingback: Begin the ATO with yourself - Israel Foreign Affairs News

  2. George says:

    You think of the Ukrainian Media is the problem right? How about dealing with the media here in America that thinks it’s more important to cover the World Cup soccer because in United States is in it? We had we get no mention of Ukraine for weeks and weeks! And yet armies amassed on Ukraine’s Borders! There is a guerrilla war going on within Donetsk and Luhansk! Apparently, CNN, MSNBC, and FOXNews don’t understand that the bloodshed in Donbass is just as bad as in Gaza!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.