LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Lidia Gany had some tea and bread, all she can afford these days for most meals, put on her duffel coat with the fake purple fur collar, and came down to the main square of this down-at-the-heels industrial city at Ukraine's eastern edge to join fellow ethnic Russians in urging Moscow to send troops across the border and protect them.
"Only Russia can save us," said the 74-year-old pensioner, crossing herself. Since Russian troops rolled into Crimea, and lawmakers there scheduled a referendum for Sunday on whether to join Russia, the world's attention has focused on the fate of the lush peninsula that juts into the Black Sea. But here in Ukraine's coal-fired industrial east, where huge numbers of Russians have lived for more than two centuries, a potent mix of economic depression, ethnic solidarity and nostalgia for the certainties of the Soviet past have many demanding the right to become part of Russia as well.
"I'm for living in one country, with no borders, like we used to. Like the fingers on one hand," said 60-year-old Lyudmila Zhuravlyova, who signed a petition asking for Russian President Vladimir Putin's military invention to stop "political persecution and physical annihilation of the Russian-speaking and Orthodox population."
In Luhansk and other eastern Ukraine cities, some men have formed militia groups such as "Luhansk Guard," the "People's Auxiliary" as Russian news broadcasts swarm with alleged atrocity stories about attacks on ethnic Russians and Jews in Ukraine — helping to spur the secession drive and the anxieties that underlie it. The Associated Press and other international media have found no evidence of victimization.
Some in Luhansk, including Gany, have relatives in Russia who tell them life is better on their side of the border. She now must make ends meet on about $100 a month in pension payments, she says_half of which goes to pay her rent. Her husband is dead. She held a variety of jobs in the old Soviet Union, from the BAM railway project in Siberia to a fish cannery in Kamchatka, but much of her savings vanished when the former superpower broke up.
She now fears persecution from Ukraine's new leaders, and is afraid to travel to other regions of the country. In 2010, the year of Ukraine's last presidential election, Luhansk gave 89 percent of its votes to Viktor Yanukovych, a native of another town in the Donbas coal-mining region. The pro-Moscow president fled office last month after prolonged street protests and bloodshed in Kiev, and was succeeded by a government made up of politicians friendlier to the United States and European Union.
For some in the east, the regime change was not only blatantly unconstitutional, but a catastrophe. "The West wants to put Hitler's Plan Ost into effect," said Zoya Kozlova, 54, a teacher of philology. That plan, if fully implemented, would have meant the enslavement, expulsion and extermination of most of the Slavic peoples in Europe.
Pro-Moscow forces in Luhanks already have a leader, self-styled "people's governor" Alexander Kharitonov, who is spearheading the drive for a referendum. "The people of Luhansk don't recognize illegitimate Kiev. We think that the government has been changed through a coup d'etat," he said. And Kharitonov said he hopes for assistance from Moscow to right that situation.
"The Maidan (the anti-Yanukovych protests in Kiev) showed us the police aren't able to protect us. Neo-Nazi groups that were created on the Maidan have spread throughout Ukraine. The police aren't able to protect us from them."
"The new government won't do it. So we think we have the right to ask our friend Russia to protect us," Kharitonov said. Already, the Kremlin has made clear that it's closely watching developments. On Monday, in an official statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said lawlessness "now rules in eastern regions of Ukraine" and blamed the Right Sector, a grouping of far-right and nationalist factions whose activists were among the most radical and confrontational during three months of protests that led to Yanukovych's ouster.
"Without Putin's help, they will annihilate us," said Sergei Chupeyev, 69, a retired mining engineer from Luhansk. "We need to ask him for help, or tomorrow there will be fascists here."
reply to post by rigel4
There are 7 Billion people on this planet. Some legitimately see the world VERY differently than we do and sincerely want to live in a very different way, too. I find it interesting to watch how often that is discounted as irrelevant or nonexistent as a factor.
They just like it that way.
DONETSK, Ukraine: More than 10,000 people carrying Russian flags protested on Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the stronghold of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, an AFP journalist said.
Protesters declared they supported "the aspirations of Crimea to rejoin Russia", referring to Ukraine's pro-Russia peninsula further south where Kiev has accused Moscow of launching an "armed invasion".
"Russia! Russia!", they shouted, as demonstrators on the sidelines of the rally distributed leaflets calling on people "not to obey authorities in Kiev".
These are ignorant people who were either raised to believe or just decided to believe
You overestimate their number by one degree of magnitude.
originally posted by: theabsolutetruth
reply to post by ~Lucidity
These are ethnic Russians that reside in Eastern Ukraine. Half of Ukraine is of Russian ethnic origin, pro Russian, Orthodox, Russian speaking etc, and feel that they only became separated from Russia by default in the first place.
It would be an analogy if the USA invaded Great Britain to protect there English language speaking people.
originally posted by: majkaveli
reply to post by rigel4
Kind of like in the States? Right?