On Genocide in Donbass

Recently on FB I mentioned “Genocide in Donbass” as a self-evident fact. Googling for it, however, revealed nothing but pages after pages of results declaring that there was no genocide there and there is nothing to see. Searching in Russian is very different, but that also should be done not on Google but on Russian Yandex. There is simply too much material there and so I’ll try to summarize the whole thing.

2014 Maidan revolution in Kiev divided people into “svidomity” and “vatniki”. Svidomity means those who have become aware [of the truth]. In other words – woke. The truth was that life in USSR was not as good as in America and Europe, which everybody knew since the 80s, but everything in Ukraine is kinda slower. What was new is that smartphones put these dreams right into people’s hands and they started demanding to be in Europe right now – “Ukraina tse Evropa”, as their popular declaration stated.

“Vatniki”, or “vata” for short, refers to people who still hold on to their Soviet past. The word itself means a kind of cheap, mass produced winterwear for prisoners and construction workers, and for anyone who can’t afford anything better. “Vata” means “cotton wool” that went inside of it. All references to “vatnikis” were meant to be made with utter disdain at their absolute moral and intellectual inferiority. There was an art exhibition in Kiev right after Maidan where three people were hired to represent “vatniks”, they were put in a cage with bottles of vodka and all kinds of garbage on the floor, and the sign said “Do not feed”, mimicking similar signs in the zoos.

“Soviet past” includes victory in WWII, which in USSR was called “Great Patriotic War”, and it was the highest example of heroism and basis for common identity, but Svidomitys had no appreciation for it whatsoever. Their new heroes were those who corroborated with Nazis, which is disputed but trueto the extent that fighting communists was their common goal.

That was what became a dividing line in Ukraine – either you become svidomity or you are vata. It wasn’t on any ethnic or racial grounds. It wasn’t even against Russian speaking population – everyone in Kiev itself spoke Russian, too. People were defined by their relations to European dreams and Soviet past.

Needless to say, this kind of treatment from the svidomity’s side was not accepted gladly by vata and there were anti-Maidan protests all over the country. One pivot point after which there was no coming back was burning people alive in Odessa, which was two months after Maidan victory in Kiev. Anti-Maidan protesters were outnumbered by svidomitys and pushed into a Trade Union building, which was then set on fire while the svidomity crowd was chanting their favorite slogans and gleefully watched people burn. Those who tried to jump out of the windows were caught by the crowds and beaten with baseball bats. When Russians saw this on TV they were left speechless. I should add that all the news were coming from Ukrainians themselves, much of proudly posted on social media – there was no Russian media presence there. So both Russian and Ukrainian vatniks had no words but the censored ones to express their disbelief but Svidomitys around the country, for their part, joked about “fried colorados”. Fried because people were burned, of course, and “colorady” because of orange and black ribbons worn by anti-Maidan protesters which reminded them of “Colorado potato beetle”.

Without checking exact numbers, about fifty people died in that fire. Does it amount to genocide? Probably not yet, but what happened next was that Donbass “oblasts” had their referendums and declared independence from svidomity nonsense, and Maidan government in Kiev (still unelected at this point) decided to do something about. They sent the army to crash the separatists (“separs” for short), but it didn’t feel enough and it formed half a dozen volunteer battalions asking svidomitys who hated vata with passion to take up arms and go exterminate colorados. Some of these battalions were staffed with prisoners who were released from jails just for this hunt. Then these battalions unleashed hell on Donbass population.

I can’t possibly summarize their atroticites in on FB post. When they caught “separs” they would torture them in all possible ways. Branding prisoners with swastikas like farmers brand cattle, they branded people’s chests and buttocks this way, or carving swastikas on people’s bodies with knives, or inserting steel pipes in their anuses, then inserting a barbed wire, then pulling the pipes out, and then yanking out the wire with force. Raping women in front of their fathers, raping men, breaking fingers with hammers, electric shocks – these guys tried everything. Only one of the above is from a book published privately and so impossible for me to check, the rest is from official Russian or Ukrainian documents.

Since vatas and separs were not seen as human beings killing them for sport was perfectly normal. In one case they fired mortar rounds from across a river into a beach, just a few hundred meters away, were vata and their families were relaxing and people were running around totally terrified. What fun!

Firing arteillery and mortar rounds into cities and villages has become an everyday thing in the past eight years. Russian government number is 2,600 people killed this way – strictly civilians going about their lives and killed by artillery fire. Since Russian invasion less than a week ago twenty four people were killed in Donetsk alone, where there is no war otherwise, it’s still the same stalemate situation as it was in 2014. All the fighting goes on hundred kilometres to the north or to the south, but Ukrainians still shell Donetsk schools and public spaces, just because they can. At this point it makes no military sense whatsoever.

Western consensus is that there isn’t and there was no genocide in Donbass and they would point to the number of civilians killed on the Ukrainian side of the dividing line there. This can start a tit-for-tat debate on who fired first and who was only responding and only suppressing the incoming fire, and who was hiding their artillery in residential areas and so on. This has been argued for eight years already. I’ll just say this, kind of in support of “Ukraine had only military targets” narrative – yesterday at one of Ukrainian positions overrun by Donbass army (it has its own army, quite different from the Russian one) was discovered a cache of documents showing that location of military targets in Donetsk was provided to Ukraine by official European OSCE peace monitoring mission there. Yesterday was also the day when OSCE staff in Donetsk packed their stuff and quickly drove away (to Russia) without even settling their hotel bill, in a convoy of about a dozen SUVs. That should give you an idea what trust could be put in Western narrative there, which is primarily based on OSCE reports, I must add.

Coming back to those volunteer batallions – after 2014 hostilities in Donbass were over and separation line was settled, the svidomitys run out of vata targets to torture and they turned to terrorizing local population instead. This has made Ukraine uncomfortable and some investigations into their war crimes were started (but not admitting genocide, of course). As a result these batallions were reorganized. Some were disbanded, others integrated into Ukrainian army, some renamed and reclassified. One of these, the Azov batallion, still exists and is officially designated as a Nazi-terrorist organization by the US, I can’t be bothered to look up the exact definition now. My point is that we have an armed Ukrainian unit which is designated as professing Nazi ideology, but what they have done and what they want to do is not classified as genocide. Facebook even relaxed its rules and allows praising Azov but on the condition that only their fight against Russian is mentioned and not the other stuff they do or did. How convenient.

All these things have been circulating in Russian media for many many years and are accepted as self-evident. In a recent public poll “payback for genocide” was the most popular option why people support the war in Ukraine. Second most popular was de-Nazification which is almost the same thing. That’s what people in Russia feel most strongly about.

Are they victims of Russian propaganda? Most certainly so, but in this case I don’t see this propaganda as being too far from the truth. People in Donbass have first hand experience of it, they don’t rely on Amnesty International to tell them what’s going on there and how Ukrainian svidomity feel about them. Actually, they don’t use this word anymore, popular terms are “Nazis” and “ukropy”, which is a derivation from “Ukrainian” and means “dill” in Russian. These Donbass people are not into propaganda and appearances, just recently I watched a video of one of the commanders addressing the population. It’s impossible for me to find and upload it now, but in the West they don’t have even voice actors who can speak like this, with this degree of conviction, dedication, and assurance, and at the same time humility. He immediately projects the sense of shelter and stability, that he would do anything for what is right. He had a deep baritone voice, silver head, and a face of a man who had seen battle. These people don’t lie, and that’s why I can state that Russian propaganda is not far from truth on this subject – it happened.

I don’t want to argue if this can be legally classified as genocide but one thing is certain regardless – some wrongs were committed and they WILL be righted, and at this point it looks like karma will reach these people in this life rather than the next.

Last thing I also want to say – for eight years Donbass leaders and commanders had all the reasons to blame Russia for abandoning them and for using them to advance Russian political agenda while providing only the bare minimum, and even that through volunteers and donations rather than through state channels. They didn’t, however. They took it as a necessary austerity and they convinced their people that they had to wait, too, that justice WAS coming. They DO project that kind of assurance, their words do not diverge from reality, which is a quality that comes with practicing honesty. Ha! That’s a good explanation why the West doesn’t have even voice actors who can talk like that. It can’t be mimicked, which is a reminder that we can’t mimic the speech of an uttama bhagavata devotee either. Nobody here can talk like them, we have no idea what their speech sounds like as we have no comparable experiences. Same is true for the sound of Krishna’s flute, too.

We have records of Prabhupada’s audio but we listen to it with our own ears at our own convenience, therefore the effect is not the same as guru telling something directly and personally to a disciple.