Some housekeeping first: I briefly interrupt Lyttenburgh’s “Futurology” series with this 2-parter about recent events in the Ukraine. That will cover today and tomorrow, after which we’ll finish off with Lyttenburgh, probably on Thursday and Friday. After which, maybe some more pieces on classical ballet. Oi, my blog is now becoming a LIFO stack. (Google that, if you don’t know.) But please keep reading, those of you who have not caught up yet!
Anyhow, I don’t know if I can rightfully call this “breaking news”, because there have been some intriguing hints over the past couple of months.
But something interesting is definitely brewing in the Donbass region, and people should keep their eyes peeled to see what happens.
Zakharchenko Carried Out An Inspection Of the Program To Unite The Peoples Of Donbass
Alexander Zakharchenko, of course, is the Prime Minister and chief military commander of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR). What with the Minsk Peace Process (Ukraine vs Separatists) going nowhere, Zakharchenko has been dropping hints that it is time for both rebel regions (Donetsk and Luhansk) to unite and establish themselves as a sovereign entity; perhaps even join the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, this new “program”, which was announced in March, and of which Zakharchenko carried out a surprise inspection yesterday, has as its aim a humanitarian intervention to help Ukrainian citizens of the region of the Donbass who happen to live in towns and cities controlled by the Ukrainian federal government and military.
And no, by “humanitarian intervention”, Zakharchenko doesn’t mean this in the Western sense, of droning civilians and dropping bombs on their houses. He means actual humanitarian actions, like really actually helping ordinary people on the other side of the checkpoints. People who are suffering under the incompetent rule of the Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev. People who are down-sliding into poverty, don’t receive their pensions, can’t find medical care, and whose children cannot get a good education any more.
For example, other sources report that several families in this region are sending their children to school in Donetsk. Why? Because they want their children to learn Russian, and Russian language is no longer offered in schools in Ukrainian-controlled towns.
Well, Ukrainian nationalists might say, why should the children learn Russian? Is not Ukrainian just as good and beautiful a language as Russian? Yes it is, and possibly even better in some ways. But realistically, folks, any child who speaks and reads only Ukrainian, is going to be shut off from the wider world. Knowledge of Russian offers more career opportunities, frankly. Knowledge of English is even better; but knowing Russian definitely offers more of an advantage than just knowing Ukrainian. And the parents know this too. Just sayin’.
So, long story short: In typical Russian fashion, Zakharchenko showed up at the roundtable meeting, as the video shows, and asked for an impromptu accounting how the project was proceeding. He fired off various questions, and the participants accounted for their components of the project. For example, DPR Acting Foreign Minister Natalia Nikanorova accounted as follows:
“Kiev’s blockade of Donbass has affected not only the economy of the Republic, but also our ties with our fellow countrymen: social, cultural, and family ties. We cannot allow a full sundering (of these ties), this is why we adopted this program. The main points of the program: Timely payments (of pensions) to veterans, whom we do not have the right to split into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’. Free medical assistance. Education. And alongside this: Joint cultural, athletic, and professional activities. All of these programs have been confirmed, and are working.”
Alexei Kastrubitski, the DPR Minister of Defense, assured President Zakharchenko as to the safety measures employed along the “line of contact” between the rebel region and the federal forces. Ukrainian citizens can approach this line in order to receive information about the humanitarian program.
Minister of Education Larisa Polyakova reported the following: “All 18 institutions of higher education in the DPR are participating (in this program), as well as all the middle schools. We have reserved 1500 additional seats (in these institutions) for applicants from the Kiev-controlled territories.”
Natalia Nikanorova, speaking again: “In just under a month, we received 569 telephone calls. The hospitals participtating in this program have reserved 3500 beds. The program is working, already we have 3 moms giving birth here. All 3 moms are from nearby towns: Mariinka, Kurakhovo.”
Minister of Health Alexander Oprishchenko: “In all, we have received 3,000 applications…. A large portion of these, a third, are applications for free medical care. The most popular requests are for Endoprosthetics and Cardiac Surgery. Second in popularity are requests for welfare payments. As of today, 11 veterans have received assistance. Three of these people came in person.”
Zakharchenko: “That was a brave act! I want to emphasize the point: That this is our land, these are our brothers and sisters, our parents, these are our people! We must be fully cognizant of our responsibilities (to them). These people are living under the iron heel of the enemy, they are living in occupied territory, but they are our family. And we are obligated to do everything in our power, even above and beyond, so that these people don’t feel like they were abandoned. Donbass — is a single country. What you are doing is a sacred task and you are obligated to perform it correctly, quickly, and with high quality.”
The humanitarian program, important in itself, is part of a larger initiative to unify the rebel enclaves Donetsk and Luhansk and rebuild these societies after the calamity which befell them.
Next: What is the larger geo-political goal here?
[to be continued]