The little uniform is green, with a Russian flag and the words ”Russia” on an emblem on one arm.Several people are wearing the black and orange Ribbon of Saint George. It stems from the Soviet Union’s struggle against Nazi Germany and has become an emblem for anti-Maidan activists and protesters of the new government.The ribbon is also used in remembrance of recent victims.In May 2014, there was a clash between pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan groups in the coastal city of Odessa. Ultra-nationalists from the Right Sector in the west had come to the southeast to demonstrate on the streets of Odessa together with football hooligans.
The demonstrators were then attacked by ethnic Russian protesters, who were subsequently chased into the local Trade Union building by the nationalists.The building caught fire, as a result of the petrol bombs, and 42 people were killed – they were either trapped inside the burning building or were shot when they tried to jump out. The nationalists chanted, ”Burn Colorado, burn.” There is a black and orange beetle called the Colorado potato beetle and this reference is used to liken anyone wearing the black and orange ribbon to an insect.Several people cite it as the reason for taking up arms and starting to fight on the eastern side of the front.In the community centre in Donetsk, children are carrying out ammunition crates to the sound of Russian music. The crates are used as supports for the ”who can saw fastest” competition.
There is a weightlifting competition, a tug of war and circle dancing. Macho muscles are flexed, there is grunting and faces turn red. The boys fight each other with sandbags and the girls throw feathers.No one I talk to wants to be part of Ukraine any more.There is only one person who says otherwise.I eventually interview him at the City Hall. When asked what will happen to the Donetsk People’s Republic in the future, he replies that somehow or another the eastern region will become part of – Ukraine.When I leave the City Hall, with my watch set to Moscow time and with Russian Roubles in my pocket, and look up at the façade from which the Ukrainian coat of arms has been torn down, I no longer know what is the truth and what is theatrics.I get into the car and ask Driving Gloves to take us to the hazy front line. He flicks the cigarette he had been smoking to suppress the boredom out of the window, straightens his back as if newly energized and revs the car into action.