One of the men fails to smash his glass bottle after the first and the second attempt. On the third attempt he manages to smash both the bottle and his temple. There is blood running down half his face and he has to be taken off in an ambulance.This display is showcasing a new Spetsnaz – a special military unit comprised of men from Europe’s new breakaway state.There are a few locals standing around the square.It feels as if I have stumbled into a theatre. Where I am the only person who is not an actor.That is what I have to do to get backstage. To join the fighters on the front. To see who it is that is fighting, their nationalities, if they are volunteers or regular troops and, in which case, if they are locals or Russians.Eduard Basurin is the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s Defence Minister and I need him to personally issue me with a permit. Not the written one I have already received from him on paper. That is no more than a piece of paper.
Every day Basurin replies, ”Call tomorrow.”When the war broke out it was like Dodge City on the eastern side of the front; journalists could shuttle back and forth between the fighting and the morgues. But now there is a new government and official organisation running everything.In recent months, a lot of western journalists have been locked out by simply not being permitted to enter the eastern side.On either side of the front, people are suspicious of the western and eastern media respectively, and feel that everything being written about the war is propaganda.
Two years ago there was no front, there were no roadblocks and there was no war to write about.Back then there was just Ukraine.
But new borders were drawn up in April 2014. Two republics were proclaimed in the eastern part of the country: Donetsk and Luhansk.In the self-proclaimed republics, supporters of the split demonstrated against the new government in Kiev. They felt that the violent protests on Independence Square that winter were not a libertarian revolution, but rather a coup d’état – in which President Yanukovych and the old government, who had favoured business ties with the east, was overthrown. They wanted to protect the former order and saw the events at Independence Square as a threat to stability and to the many ethnic Russians living in the east.