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Meanwhile, In Eastern Ukraine



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From Radio Free Europe, an interesting summary of sentiment in eastern Ukraine (a part of the country with a large ethnic Russian population):

DONETSK, Ukraine — It’s been more than two decades since Nikolai Zakharov took to the streets to protest Soviet rule. And this week, the 60-year-old mechanic, clad in a flat leather cap and clutching a European Union flag, was among dozens of demonstrators singing the Ukrainian national anthem in the freezing December wind on Donetsk’s Taras Shevchenko Square….

But little demonstrations like this are an anomaly.  In the weeks since throngs of protesters poured onto the streets in the capital, Kyiv, to protest Yanukovych’s scuttling of a landmark Association Agreement and free trade pact with the EU in favor of closer ties with Moscow, the silence in eastern industrial cities like Donetsk has been deafening. By and large, residents of this predominantly Russian-speaking region, where just 30 percent favor closer ties with Europe, take a dim view of the unrest in Kyiv.Many, like Ihor, a 35-year-old ethnic Russian who gave only his first name, parrot Yanukovych’s claim that Ukraine is not yet ready for closer ties with the EU. Ihor compared protesting masses in Kyiv to a child throwing a temper tantrum. “I might want a Mercedes,” he said.  “But I drive a Hyundai.”

And yet, there is also a strong sense here that no one is rushing to defend the embattled Ukrainian president even as he faces the most serious challenge to his rule. Tellingly, Ihor says he is not sure if he will vote for Yanukovych again, as he did in 2010, in the 2015 presidential election. In a city that represents the heart of Yanukovych’s base of support, the authorities have managed to stage just one modest pro-regime demonstration. And critics say they had to bus in thousands of employees of state-owned companies to beef up the crowd.

One planned demonstration here even had to be cancelled due to an expected low turnout. And, after racking up large majorities in Ukraine’s east in the 2010 presidential elections, Yanukovych’s approval ratings in the region were around 26-28 percent, according to the Razumkov Center, before this political crisis. With 4.5 million residents, Donetsk Oblast is Ukraine’s most populous region and its heavy industry — mainly coal, steel, and iron mining and metallurgy — represents a sizeable chunk of the country’s economy….

The article is illustrated with a picture of Donetsk’s Lenin Square. There the old tyrant still stands.

To introduce a sidenote, Donetsk was once known as Stalino, named after you know who. Before that it was Yuzovka (or Hughesovka), named after John Hughes, a Welshman.

Wales Online explains:

Hughes, who was born in 1814 in Merthyr Tydfil, was invited to Ukraine to develop coal mining and a metallurgy industry, subsequently founding an ironworks and a railway. The metal works was close to the River at a site near the village of Alexandrovka, with the Hughes factory giving its name to the settlement and the town – written as Yuzovka in Ukrainian – grew rapidly and subsequently became one of the biggest industrial centres of Russian Empire.Hughes is credited with having personally provided a hospital, schools, bath houses, tea rooms, a fire brigade and an Anglican church to serve the workers at his complex.

For a while the governess to Hughes’s grandchildren was a Welsh woman called Annie. She returned to Wales, married a schoolteacher called Jones. Her son, Gareth, had always loved his mother’s tales of life in Ukraine, and, well, over to Garethjones.org:

These stories instilled in him a desire to visit the Soviet Union and Ukraine. So with this goal in mind he studied languages and had a brilliant academic career at University, both in Aberystwyth and Cambridge where he gained first-class honours in French, German and Russian; all of which he spoke fluently. Graduating from Cambridge in 1930, he obtained the position of Foreign Affairs Adviser to David Lloyd George and it was during the summer of this year he made his first ‘pilgrimage’ to Hughesovka.

Jones was to return to the Soviet Union two more times, and in March 1933 he took a train to Ukraine from Moscow, got out at a railway station and, notebook in hand, started to walk through the villages of a land being devastated by the Soviet-made famine now known as the Holodomor,

And unlike so many, he went on to tell the truth about what was going on, a truth worth remembering on the day that Lenin falls in Kyiv.  



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