Despite protests, Donetsk and Lugansk keep living normal life - expert
How would you describe the situation in Donetsk and Lugansk? Are there many people on the streets?
There are many people on the streets near the governmental buildings in Donetsk, near the main building of the local administration. In Lugansk yesterday there were about 300-400 people on the streets. And the situation is very tense near these buildings. But the whole city is living its normal life, of course.
What can you say about the protests? Are they mostly peaceful or how you would describe them?
In Donetsk the protesters have no weapons, except for sticks and probably some bottles with Molotov cocktail prepared. And basically, they claim that they are members of a peaceful protest. And in Lugansk the situation looks a bit more dangerous, because the protesters who are inside the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building took the weapons from a special room in this building. So, now they’ve got Kalashnikov rifles. And there are about 20 or 30 armed people inside the building now.
Are there any signs of the buildup of Ukrainian forces in the region?
In Lugansk there is another demonstration in some other place. There are not too many people there, probably a couple of dozens of people who support the unity of Ukraine. But of course, the bigger part of the population is probably supporting the pro-Russian activists there. In Donetsk there are many people who are against the pro-Russian activists and they suppose that this pro-Russian protest is organized from Russia. They don’t trust these protesters. And probably it was organized on the money of the local Donetsk oligarchs who don’t want to lose their power in the region, because after the power of Maidan will start the reforms, they will lose their power and influence.
Have you been in other cities other than Donetsk and Lugansk, I mean, other eastern cities? Are there protests and rallies also or what have you seen there?
I’ve been to Gorlovka as well. It is a city near Donetsk. I’ve been to Lugansk, in Antratsit (it is the city near the border of Russia). There were meetings supporting the pro-Russian protest as well.