"From Donetsk to "DNR". The reality of an occupied city"
[Check out the photos too.]
Here is a brief summary:
..a modern city has turned into a dark prison in which the hostages are hungry elderly persons, schoolchildren, students, Donetsk residents returning from forced leave who have failed to find work in other cities, or simply those who have nowhere else to go.
And for those who for 20 years have not been able to find a place in the new realities of a market economy, or just the losers, lumpen proles, loafers, alcoholics and drug addicts - it's their time now.
Suddenly there was a possibility of a social elevation when a parking attendant or car or mechanic could instantly gain power and glory. It is not necessary to work to buy an automobile, for example. It's enough to have a machine gun and a camouflage outfit.
A mix of Somalia and the Soviet Union in one bottle? Yes, this is Donetsk [now].
We have been transported from the 21st. century into the grey, hopeless '90s. A good part of the city's commercial business rushed to close or move to other regions when the 'Anti-terrorist operation' started, and those that remain have no possibility to carry out their activities normally without re-registration with the DNR . Thus, the largest shopping and entertainment centre ,"Donetsk City" is closed and 'branded' stores are boarded up on the main shopping strips, awaiting 're-registration'. Motor vehicle showrooms are empty, looted by insurgents, some have had advertisement logos removed already.
Only markets, small private businesses and local supermarket chains now operate in Donetsk.
Entrepreneurs admit that they are afraid to buy stock which is now much more expensive due to devaluation. It then has to be transported under fire and bribes paid at checkpoints,
A very hot commodity are the large chequered bags, last seen after the collapse of the USSR, in which one can quickly gather up a few possessions and get out. [A common sight in the '90's at bus stations across Europe were people surrounded with these large chequered, rectangular blue holdall bags - people returning to countries in Eastern Europe.. F.N]
Also key fobs, lighters, fridge magnets, praising the "DNR", "New Russia" and the USSR are hot right now.
Donetsk probably now resembles the Soviet Union in the last year of its existence.
Armed men are seen everywhere, often drunk. Once familiar traffic jams have disappeared. Smart automobiles are a rarity on the street having been replaced by my much more modest crumpled Ladas. Many drivers, either from fear or from an excess of pride, "decorate" their cars with DNR flags, stickers and decals.
Nevertheless the city remains clean and warm thanks to courageous service workers who carefully monitor utilities. There have been few power outages and damage to water supply quickly is repaired during the day. The heating season started on time this year.
Night life in the city has markedly declined. Public transport runs only to 20:00 at best, and taxi services take fares only until 23:00. DNR police patrols start to catch curfew violators after 22:00, so after dark people tend to go home quickly.
Some citizens do not turn on the lights in their apartments, so as not to tempt 'crazies' shooting at their windows.
[This video shot today shows one of main streets in the centre of Donesk, Pushkin Boulevard, [which was known for its atmosphere, evening promenades, and restaurants], totally deserted at 7.00p.m. tonight]
A major role in strengthening the power of the DNR was played by former police officers. They quickly changed their name on the buildings of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and city police department. But what can you expect from such a structure, whose only function was preying on victims of crime as well as the guilty parties?
A lot of Donnetchany are dismayed how they were left at the mercy of separatists by Kyiv, who they consider could have done much more at the very start to hang on to the now-occupied territories.
There is a growing feeling now that a point of no return has been reached. Initially there were not that many supporters of DNR, but thanks to the controversial policies of Kyiv and their inability to offer armed resistance, much has changed.
It should be borne in mind that many Donchany joined the ranks of DNR out of of despair because they were at the end of their tether.
They have come to the conclusion that authorities in Kyiv have already decided to hand over Donetsk forever. The consider the president's decision to discontinue pensions and civil servant salaries and freeze banking institutions is a de-facto recognition of DNR.
It is amazing how a terrorist group of 55 people led by Girkin quietly went to war in our region and was not immediately destroyed by the secret services and the army. In which country in the world is this possible?
p.s. Others have now picked up the themes I raised in my blog yesterday.