What the Donbass Really Wants

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What the Donbass Really Wants

This article originally appeared at Novorosinform.org, translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Both I and my fellow countrymen have been getting questions over the last year or so: “What is it that you want, what does the Donbass want”, writes Donetsk historian and journalist Oleg Izmailov in his article on PolitNavigator. We all tried to answer that question, although we are not in the mood to be giving answers. They were obvious, but instead of turning on their brains and coming up with answers on their own, the people doing the asking (usually journalists but not always) were tried to squeeze as much revealing information as possible from us. We, on the other hand, acting on the premise that “loose lips sink ships”, tried to leave some of the earnestness and truth to ourselves. Perhaps unwisely, but that’s how it was.The time for full openness is now. And even though full disclosure is for fools, we’ll nevertheless try to answer the question “what does the Donbass want in this war?” without oversimplifications which are worse than lying.

First, the politics. Everything that happened, the entire series of events points in one direction: the Donetsk-Lugansk nation wants to leave Ukraine once and for all, together with its land, and join Russia. In other words, become the “Donetsk Federal Region” with all the ramifications.

Here certain exalted personalities may start howling because, well, not everyone wants to be in Russia. True, not all, but 75-80%, without a doubt. With such an overwhelming majority, it’s hardly worth taking into account those who are pining for some sort of federal Ukraine with the Donbass remaining part of it. Once again, so that everyone understands: the working masses, those who actually create the GDP in Donetsk, those who fight against the Nazi locusts, the miners, the steelworkers, the chemists, the machine-builders, the railroad workers, the construction workers, etc., all see themselves as citizens of great Russia even in their sleep. Yes, they are all thinking people, they understand that, perhaps, it will take years of compromises, but that has not softened their stance–we want only Russia!

There is full and unconditional consensus on this matter in both parts of the Donbass, the Republican one and the part occupied by Ukraine. And nobody needs to prove anything to anyone. Donbass’ desire to be rid of Ukraine not a theory–it is now axiomatic. Its correctness was demonstrated the one and only referendum, the May one, in 2014. Since then the hatred toward people with a soft spot for the blue-yellow rag in the cities occupied by the Ukrainian army has grown immensely. Naturally, people are forced to conceal it–it’s dangerous–but the entry of LPR and DPR troops in the cities they abandoned in early July of last year will be accompanied by flowers and general celebrations.

The sincerity and genuineness of this national desire is testified to by the unconditional, and captured many times by the media, readiness to be worse off materially, “as long as not under Ukrainian rule.” Moreover, ethnicity (as a reminder–half of the people of the Donbass are of Ukrainian ethnicity) doesn’t really matter–the nation is choosing the Empire, no matter how they personally define that word.

Now about the economy and social policies.

We can say with certainty that the Donbass will categorically refuse to accept the return of the oligarchs. Once again, there may be a few of our countrymen who will dream of Akhmetov’s return, but for the majority of the working people and intellectual workers his return would be like spitting in their face and disrespecting the memory of the fallen in the Donetsk-Ukraine War. To put it bluntly, and it’s pointless to speak in different terms, the people of the Donbass would rather prefer to have something akin to state capitalism with strong and dependable social mobility ladders and state assistance. It wouldn’t be Soviet socialism, but it would be similar in many important respects. Big, heavy industry, according to the Donbass people, should be in the hands of the state, as well as transportation and alcohol monopoly, but the service sector should be in private hands.

The nationalities policy in the Donbass is clear too. That policy has been in existence in our lands in a fairly balanced form for a long time, and there is no need to change it. Dozens and dozens of nationalities have coexisted in the Donbass for a century and a half, and people here are judged by their smarts, skills, work ethic, not nationality. At the same time the Russian language and Russian culture are thought of as firsts among equals. Simply as a convenient and beneficial form of coexistence.

They also often ask the following: could we, the people of the Donbass, live together in one country with the inhabitants of other regions of Ukraine. We answer that we got along perfectly fine in Soviet Ukraine, and nobody had any issues back then because we considered the Soviet Ukraine as simply another national “package” of the big Communist ideal. That’s how it was. But now, after twenty five years of Ukrainian Nazis’ efforts to create a nationalist state and force us, the bearers of the great Russian culture and equally great Soviet engineering, mining and metallurgical civilization, to accept their impoverished agricultural worldview, we can say only one thing–“yes, we could, but only after the former USSR (naturally, without Galicia, may it go back to Poland) reverts to being a part of the Russian Federation. I think that that nice and entertaining Malorossia can receive a special status and special rights–we’re no nationalists, we are an imperial people, we are not greedy and we’re ready to give Ukraine that which it can’t provide to the Donbass even theoretically due to its inherent avarice.

…And we don’t anything else, we just want to go back, we just want to go home–to our own, Russian, unbreakable Union.

We remember the anthem, too…

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