I’ve spent the last several weeks like a pilgrim, in relentless fundraising campaign in order to be able to leave for Donbass, reside and work there. After my first trip to the region I made this life-changing decision, having realized that my duty calls me there so that I would carry out journalistic activity, provide at least some aid and do everything I can to return ancient glory to the French banner, trampled into dirt by our politicians. It was a quick and easy decision for me, for I saw it as absolutely inevitable even before my return home. When I came back, I started meeting as many people as possible, who were ready to listen to me at public meetings, dinner parties and just outside, in the parks and café daises in every corner of my country. Thus, today at a literary meeting with tourists in the municipal camping of Dijon, situated near the famous Lake Kir, I stumbled upon a couple from Ukraine.
They were about my age, 40 something, and belonged, most certainly, to the middle class, or maybe even the upper class back home. With the present-day state of economy only the privileged strata of Ukrainian citizens can afford a trip abroad. This couple arrived from Odessa, the city of unhappy memory, where on May 2 of the last year a horde of berserk ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis carried out a massacre of Russian-speaking fellow-citizens, who refused to accept the “bright [European] prospects” for their country. They were just peacefully manifesting against the rule of Kiev oligarchs, repressions, attacks at the Russian language, violence in Maidan and crimes that had already started to be committed all over the country. They had been ruthlessly murdered for that.
The man, whose name was Igor, talked to me after the cover of my book designed in the colours of Ukrainian flag attracted his attention. At first the conversation, which, by the way, was in Russian, was very friendly, having provided me with a perfect example of the metamorphoses that the Ukrainian people underwent since I visited the country. Absolutely crazy statements came crushing down on me in spite of the fact that I started with the warning that I had just returned from a trip to Donbass and am writing for the news agency Novorossia Today. At first I hoped that, notwithstanding that the conversation will remain friendly, but instead I had to endure flows of poisonous Kiev propaganda they did not hezitate to pour all over me in the course of an hour.
« We did the right thing, when we killed them all in Odessa back then, they were no on but terrorists, and they wanted to harm us”… These were the words, with which the people, who looked as peaceful holiday-makers, tried to explain to me that their country had been attacked by Russia and that their heroic volunteers defeated them and drove away no one but “Russian citizens”. According to them Ukraine had hardly any arms, but the true patriots from the right sector and Svoboda party in their unearthly drive stood up like a barrier in the way of the well-armed and equipped Russian army. The conversation went on the same note, but very soon Igor yielded the first fiddle to his wife, who came out to be much more aggressive and pushy than him. Her attitude was not threatening as such, but her seemingly peaceful speculations were the embodiment of hatred and lie. According to her, all residents of Donbass, who had at least some funds, had long ago left the region, saving themselves from the war, the militiamen were no one but Russian troopers in disguise, and young people from Donbass either relented from fighting or they had been forced to fight, moreover in the “separatists’ ranks there was a great number of mercenaries paid through the nose. She then explained to me that Russia had been preparing for the war In Donbas, as well as in the Crimea and in Odessa, for a very long time. She gave me the example of Crimea, saying that the peninsula is in total decay at the moment and that the bridge announced by Russia would never be built, as Russian economy is in awful state and the population is impoverished in the Crimea as well as in Russia itself.
This drive has completely thrown me off balance, and I listened silently, smiled and thought that even though I can no longer return to Ukraine in the nearest future, a small portion of Ukrainian people came to Dijon to see me. I was thinking about canonic Kir, an outstanding Resistance member, persecuted by Gestapo and wounded. Later he became the emblem of Burgundy, decided to create Lake Kir (which I was visiting at the moment), and facilitated the capital of Burgundy and Volgograd (former Stalingrad) becoming twin cities. I was imagining his reaction if he was unfortunate enough to have heard these people, singing glory to Nazi militants from “Azov” and “Aidar” battalions, founded by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist parties. It was sad to hear that their alleged native Ukrainian was endangered and that mean Russia was attempting to force the Russian language on them, but they have fortunately ousted the enemy from their soil. This announcement made me smile, because all this time we conversed in Russian, and it was clear that it is this language they were using in their daily life. It was both sad and hilarious to hear from them that Russian propaganda had totally warped the vision of their numerous relatives, including those living in Western Europe.
When they finally left for the beach, I realized what a meager chance Ukrainians have to resists Kiev’s propaganda, combined with the European and American ones. This comparatively young community, known in the 19th century as “Malorussian”, with the help of two of its representatives have demonstrated to me its total inability to perceive information, shallowness of its political knowledge and failure to critically assess the brainwashing it is subjected to in the course of many years already. And I automatically remembered the Germans of 1930s. Those people justified murder of innocent women and children, but when I tried to remind them about the facts, they told me that Ukraine had to defend itself from “Russian barbarity”, that it had suffered a lot and that is in retaliation it had to exterminate by starvation all the population in Donbass, it is justified and righteous… Before she left, this “nice woman” said that “anyway, they should go to hell with their Donbass, we do not need them any longer, as only beggars and gangsters live there”. And I realized that when I wrote in conclusion of my book “Ukraine : a kingdom of disinformation” that Ukrainian people “have not turned into fascists yet”, I was, probably, very very wrong.
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