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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/17/14

In Defence of the Donetsk People's Republic

By       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   3 comments
Message Lionel Reynolds

This week the war in East Ukraine continued, despite the referenda held in Donetsk and Lugansk on Sunday. In the circumstances, the referenda were well organised. The degree of accuracy of the returned result is questionable, but it is now beyond reasonable doubt that the rebel's stand against the Kiev regime enjoys wide support in the region.

The Ukrainian regime has labelled the rebels as terrorists. At the same time, they have recruited black-clad irregular battalions of right wing volunteers and sent them into the Donbass. These 'men in black', whose existence even the mainstream media doesn't deny, (see and ), are partly financed by big business interests close to the regime. Last week they killed civilians in Mariupol and Slavyansk.

In the lead-up to the referendum the mainstream media made a big point about the referendum being held at 'gun-point'. They were right. In Krasnoarmeisk an armed pro-Kiev group tried to stop people voting. Shots were fired and some civilians were injured. The action had no military logic. There is no reason why the regime should have singled out this particular voting station in this particular town. It was almost certainly an act of pure terrorist bravado, designed to intimidate the voters and carried out by a rogue pro-regime brigade.

Welcome to the new Ukraine, the first neo-Fascist regime in post-war Europe.

The Regime, and its backers in the 'Atlanticist bloc' (Washington, the EU, NATO) and the mainstream media, have made much about the Donbass rebels being Russian agents. They still insist on characterising the rebellion as 'pro-Russian'. Maybe this works with those who are ignorant of the considerable Russian ethno-cultural element in the Ukraine. RT recently featured an entertaining piece which showed that the likelihood that an American supported the Ukrainian regime was proportional to the probability they would be unable to locate Ukraine on a map.

But if the rebellion is just a 'pro-Russian' thing, then why is it happening at this very moment - in 2014. Why didn't it happen in 2004? Obviously, there is something else going on here.

Where is the evidence that the 'little green men' are Russian? Real evidence that is, not photographs lifted from an instagram account and doctored to make two different men with equally bushy beards look like the same man in two different places. If real, hard evidence was available, it would have been plastered all over the front pages. The fact that is hasn't been tells you all you need to know.

The Ukrainian regime and its backers claim the rebels are 'terrorists'. The Interior Minister Avakov recently wrote on his Facebook page that "The only position towards terrorists is shoot to kill". Strange, coming from the Interior Minister of a regime that came to power in questionable circumstances. Wasn't there just the slightest hint of 'terrorism' in the daily, pre-organised and armed assaults on police and security forces carried out by extreme right wing groups around the Maidan in February 2014?

Yanukovych eventually made multiple concessions to the Maidan movement and concluded a peace deal. The current regime won't negotiate at all. Not with 'terrorists'. Their answer is to arm the most right-wing elements from the Maidan and unleash them on the citizens of East Ukraine.

The Russians, the OSCE and the German Foreign Ministry have all expressed the view that the regime has to enter into negotiations with the rebels. After all, we all now know - despite the lies of the Ukrainain regime and the Atlanticist bloc - that the rebels enjoy considerable support in their region. Despite that, the regime won't budge from its position, and continues to wage war against Ukrainian citizens.

So leaving aside the simplistic propaganda about 'Russian agents' and 'terrorists', it's time to look at the real reasons for the popular uprising in East Ukraine.

The Background

The current State of Ukraine is a relatively recent and arguably artificial political entity that incorporates regions with very different cultural norms and historical experiences. Broadly, there are four regions: The West, whose core is the Oblasts of Galicia, Ternopil and Volhynia. The Centre, based on Kiev and the Dnieper. The South, which includes Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk, and the East, which is essentially the Donbass and Kharkov.

Actually the current residents of Ukraine have only co-existed in a single unified polity since 1939 (leaving to one side the complex history of Crimea and some other small border regions).

Western and Central Ukraine, including Kiev, is mainly Ukrainian speaking. Eastern Ukraine is mainly Russian speaking, as are most urban areas in the South. Most Ukrainian speakers are ethnic Ukrainians. About 65% of Russian speakers are ethnic Russians. Crimea, now a part of Russia, is ethnically and linguistically overwhelmingly Russian.

In parallel with the ethnic and linguistic distinctions, there are religious variations too. Ethnic Ukrainians tend to belong to either the Ukrainian Catholic Church (concentrated heavily in the West) or the Kiev Patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox church. Ethnic Russians tend to belong to the Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox Church.

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Lionel Reynolds is an independent analyst who maintains the Dispatches From the Empire blog

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