For the last five years, I was given the opportunity to break a lot of news and human interest stories from Donbass. More specifically, I’ve lived in what became Lugansk People’s Republic since 2012 and I’ve been writing from there since the trouble started before the Ukrainian coup happened.
The video from Victory day offers a unique perspective on Russian affairs in that the interviews are with boots to ground leadership and the topic is Russian integration. Along with the day’s events and the meaning behind them is an interview with a Russian regional Deputy and the Victory Day speech by the mayor of Novoborvitsyi , LNR.
Russian Deputy Valentine Vasilchenko discusses how people on both sides of the border have a long integrated history.
I asked Russia’ Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dimitry Polanskiy to comment on LNR’s Novoborovitsyi Mayor Desatnikov and Rovstov Raion Deputy Vasilichenko’s statements.
DP –I find such cross-border contacts natural and indispensable for people living side by side for many years and being one ethnical group. We never prevented our citizens to contact their Ukrainian counterparts, we are not doing it now.
I am sure that our recent initiative on expedient passportization of inhabitants of Donetsk and Lugansk will contribute to this natural process. We are glad that it was warmly welcomed by the concerned people – the queues to the issuing centers are very long and people are very grateful to Russia for such a step.
The ambassador’s comments clearly show a top to bottom commitment on the part of Russia to ease the burden placed on the people of LNR and DNR by Ukraine’s war on them.
Although I’ve written a lot about the village I live in, this is the first occasion I’ve had to spend Victory Day locally. So, what’s Victory Day in LNR DNR look like without all the machines of war and soldiers that go along with military parades?
The story goes back to the reality Donbass faced during the Great War (WWII) from 1941 to 1943. There was no army here fighting for the people.
There were no war machines. No tanks. No planes. No soldiers.
The men that were fighting age were long gone and Nazi Germany occupied the region. They tortured and murdered the citizenry with the help of their most willing, brutish, and bloody ally; the OUN(Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army).
During these years, a group of children with the help of a few Soviet soldiers that got caught behind the lines sabotaged the Nazi war effort.
They were called the Young Guards. They are famous because of the sacrifice they made for their neighbors and countrymen who couldn’t defend themselves. They were Donbass famous child partisans.
From 1941 until February 1943 Donbass was under occupation. In January 1943, only one month before the region was liberated, most of the Young Guard was caught. Some were flayed alive (skinned) in Rovenki. Most were thrown down a mine shaft and some of those were still living when they were thrown in.
These young heroes exemplify the absolute best qualities youth anywhere could possess.
In Novoborovitsyi, Victory Day 2019 centered around the story of one such 14 year old named Petr Skreptsov who ran messages from the local partisans to the Soviet army in that time frame. He was eventually caught. He and his family were tortured and stabbed with bayonets by the nationalists.
The video tries to capture the essential commemoration of all these events.
While our journalism effort transitions into video, I hope you’ll overlook some of the technical flaws.
How could a serious war effort be mounted against the Nazis and Bandera’s OUN UPA without technical support? Or how about without any of the material or weaponry you would expect in a war zone against an overwhelmingly superior force that was completely armed?
Once you grasp that story, it’s only a small step to understanding how Donbass did it again in 2014 against a standing army. The Ukrainian army may have been inadequate but the logistics chain was in place.
Lugansk People’s Republic’s Victory Day is a commemoration of the drive and spirit that made the Donbass region famous from the days of the Tsars through to 2019.
While this isn’t a war of child partisans, it is the children, mothers with babes, and the elderly that suffer the most.
Poroshenko, while claiming to be the leader of the country LDNR citizens reside in, made it clear that the children could sit in root cellars under the threat of artillery instead of going to school. Zelenskiy is embracing the same philosophy.
The reason is both are in debt to the OUN for their respective position as presidents. Under Zelenskiy, no change is possible.
The Victory Day celebration is supposed to remind people about the dangers of nationalism and fascism. Worldwide it is celebrated by every country that was allied in WWII. The problem in the west is remembering the importance of those sacrifices lost meaning.
In Donbass, we are living daily watching local people making those sacrifices again.
Victory Day 2019 in Donbass commemorates a commitment to a real future which means leaving Ukraine behind. LNR’s direction is clear. It’s Russia. Victory! Победа!