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Dispatches from Ukraine

Ukrainians in west despondent over Russian moves in east

Editor’s Note: This is one of an occasional series of dispatches on the crisis in Ukraine as reported by Tetiana Ostapenko, a Ukrainian journalist with ties to Franklin County.

NEMYRIV, Ukraine — In the eastern cities of our country terrorists captured the administrative buildings, smashed Ukrainian flags and erected Russian ones. Storming the buildings, bandits hid behind the women and children in order to prevent Ukrainian soldiers from shooting. It’s hard to look at it without disgust.

Pro-Russian activists who have proclaimed themselves the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, demanded to conduct a referendum similar to the one in Crimea.

I had telephone conversations with my relatives living in Donetsk. They are very sad, because they hate any idea of living separately from Ukraine. They say: “Our children couldn’t live here. What will we do now? Maybe we’ll move to your place.”

Most of the people in Donetsk don’t want to be a part of Russia. It’s a step back for Ukraine to join Russia. We see the results of politics of Russia in other countries. Russians fought a war in Georgia and have separated the area of Abkhazia from Georgia. Many years ago Abkhazia was an amazing land, a very beautiful resort at the Black sea. Once I spent my holidays in Abkhazia. I loved that place. Now the land is dying. It’s broken. The natives are unemployed and very poor.

Russians want to do the same with my country. The goal is to spoil the presidential election in May. Russians do everything for this. They provoke people in the east for the fights, make the attempts to represent our country as a territory of chaos and a place of anarchy. They interfere in the inner life of a foreign country, try to dictate to us what to do. They want Ukraine to leave a weak country.

In the eastern cities pro-Russian activists in the streets beat Ukrainian speakers and those who carry Ukrainian flags. It’s like a nightmare. Many Russians living in Ukraine for all their lives are unable to use the Ukrainian language. Just imagine. You live in the country and even don’t want to know the language of this country and demand from other people to speak just your language.

Ukrainians dream about peace. These days in our district some people continue to donate to the army. They bring the food products to the soldiers located nearby. Nevertheless, soldiers say: “Thanks, we have enough food products.” People just want to help.

Tetiana Ostapenko, 53, is journalist for a weekly newspaper in Nemyriv, in western Ukraine. Ostapenko, who met Leyden resident Betsey Yetter during Yetter’s Peace Corps days, supports an independent Ukraine and wishes for closer ties with the European Union

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