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← Political turmoil enflames divisions in Eastern Ukraine

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Showing Revision 9 created 04/21/2014 by Jennifer Fennerl.

  1. Now how the people in Eastern Ukraine
  2. are reacting to the Russian takeover of Crimea.
  3. Our Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent,
  4. Margaret Warner, is in Donetsk tonight,
  5. where loyalties to both Ukraine and Russia run deep.
  6. Warner: Shoppers stroll through
    the Donetsk city mall last night,
  7. a gleaming island in this gritty industrial hub
    of Eastern Ukraine,
  8. to tunes of piped-in pop music.
    Until exactly at 6:30.
  9. [Indistinct shout]
  10. A small flash mob of Ukrainian activists materialized,
    waving flags and singing the national anthem.
  11. But there were almost as many cameras as carolers.
  12. Afterward, organizer Diana Berg said
  13. these small-scale shows of Ukrainian identity and unity
  14. were safer than large demonstrations.
  15. Berg: There are reasons to be afraid after 13th of March
  16. when one of our people was killed in this fight
    by the Russian activists.
  17. Warner: Do you feel there is much of threat of Russian intervention here?
  18. Berg: Well now what we see, what's happening in Crimea,
  19. of course there is a threat.
  20. [explosion]
  21. Warner: On March 1st, just as Putin's troops
    took over Crimea,
  22. dueling protests erupted in southeastern Ukraine too,
  23. between supporters and opponents
    of joining with Russia.
  24. The death came in this melee last Thursday.
  25. Pro-Russian protests continued through last weekend
  26. as demonstrators briefly occupied government buildings.
  27. Did these divisions exist before?
    Before the last six months?
  28. Reapshin: No. We never had this kind of division.
  29. As economist and analyst Alexei Reapshin points out,
  30. unlike predominately Russian Crimea,
    the Donetsk region
  31. is almost entirely divided
    between ethnic Russian and Ukrainians,
  32. with many of mixed heritage,
    who have lived peacefully together.
  33. [crowd noise]
  34. But the winter Maidan uprising in Kiev,
  35. triggering the ouster of Russia-backed
    president Viktor Yanukovych,
  36. tapped into undercurrents that have simmered here.
  37. Ryabchyn: Ukraine's society is also divided.
  38. We have western people that is more close to Europe.
  39. We have here East, that is more close to Russia.
  40. Ukraine is not so globalized conscious,
  41. so here, people are not tolerant.
  42. Warner: That intolerance is rooted partly
  43. in a powerful collective memory of World War II.
  44. Soldiers in eastern Ukraine fought and died
  45. with the Soviet army against the Germans,
  46. while many easterners say some in the west
  47. collaborated with the Nazis.
  48. Now, the new government in Kiev
  49. and its western allies fear Putin is trying
  50. to exploit that history and the present unrest
  51. as a pretext to move on this part of Ukraine too.
  52. [speaking in Russian]
  53. In announcing the incorporation of Crimea into Russia,
  54. Putin vowed again that Moscow will protect
  55. oppressed ethnic Russians living elsewhere.
  56. but he insisted he has no designs
    on southeastern Ukraine.
  57. Putin: Do not believe those who try
    to frighten you with Russia.
  58. Who scream that Crimea will be followed
    by other regions.
  59. We do not want the division of Ukraine.
  60. Warner: Do you believe Putin when he says that?
  61. Taruta: I think he's a serious politician,
  62. and his statement should be backed up by his actions,
  63. but I do not know the man.
  64. Warner: Industrialist magnate, Sergey Taruta,
    was appointed governor
  65. of the Donetsk region two weeks ago,
  66. by the new Kiev government.
  67. The billionaire oligarch's first job:
    restore quiet to the streets.
  68. Taruta: When I arrived, this building was blocked,
  69. and the Russian flag was flying on the roof.
  70. Today, the situation is quite different.
  71. The squares are empty and that is the result
  72. of the work that's been done in two weeks.
  73. Warner: He maintains that the violent protests
  74. are fueled by professional instigators from Russia.
  75. Taruta: Part of the people who have taken part in protests
  76. are Russian born, not natives here.
  77. Our security apparatus came to this conclusion.
  78. They noticed the presence of numerous Russian tourists.
  79. Warner: Taruta was so alarmed by Russia's designs
  80. that he paid for an insurance policy of sorts
  81. out of his own family's pocket.
  82. Taruta: This is a line they will not cross.
  83. Warner: This is the line he's talking about.
  84. Carved into this vast plain, the site
    of epic tank battles during World War II,
  85. an 8-foot wide, 8-foot deep trench
    that the governor and his brother
  86. had dug along the entire 90-mile border
    between Donetsk and Russia.
  87. Farmer Yevgeniy Voedenko, who left his hog wallow
  88. to take us to the trench line,
  89. believes Putin is up to no good.
  90. Warner: Does it make you feel more protected?
  91. Voedenko: I don't know. The modern tanks
    would cross this easily.
  92. We're fearful. The future is uncertain.
  93. Warner: But there are forces already inside this line
  94. that threaten the stability of Ukraine.
  95. Donbass News website editor, Oleksiy Matsuka,
  96. says there is substantial pro-Russian feeling
  97. in this part of Ukraine.
  98. Fed in large part by economic disparities.
  99. Matsuka: The division is based on the poor and the rich.
  100. But that's not because it's western or eastern Ukraine.
  101. The east-west division is profitable for the politicians.
  102. [train whistle]
  103. Warner: This industrial heartland area
  104. generates one-quarter of Ukraine's GDP.
  105. Yet many workers live in miserable conditions,
  106. the result of corruption and government neglect.
  107. Just north of Donetsk, in Dimitrov,
  108. where coal mines dot the rolling land,
  109. we met 25-year old Yaroslav Yarmolenko,
  110. a third generation miner, whose grandparents
    moved here
  111. during the Soviet era of lifetime jobs.
  112. Yarmolenko: Salaries and life standards were
    much higher then.
  113. But in twenty years of independent Ukraine,
  114. everything was destroyed.
  115. And when I'm asked what kind of salary I have,
  116. I'm ashamed to tell.
  117. We're not living here, just surviving.
  118. Warner: Do you feel your life would be better
  119. if this region were part of Russia?
  120. I think yes from the economic standpoint of view.
  121. Warner: But that nostalgia for more secure days
  122. is not shared by many young people,
  123. says editor Olesksiy Matsuka.
  124. He sees a large generational divide between
  125. young people who came of age
    after Ukraine broke free
  126. of the collapsed Soviet Union in 1991,
  127. and their parents and grandparents.
  128. Matsuka: But meanwhile, they're forgetting about gulags,
  129. about repressions, they remember only
  130. partially something good in the social matter,
  131. and something good about their youth.
  132. And the logic of the double standard
  133. is deep down in our society.
  134. Not only in past memories,
  135. but in the present actions.
  136. Warner: Whatever the myriad causes,
  137. this vital southeast part of Ukraine
    remains a tinderbox.
  138. Alexander, who wouldn't give his last name,
  139. is the self-styled leader of a pro-Russia
    roadblock brigade,
  140. on the lookout for vehicles carrying
  141. what he calls instigators from the west.
  142. He ferried us to two lookouts near the city.
  143. One near a crossroads and another next to a
    Ukrainian police traffic outpost.
  144. Alexander: The big mistake Kiev made,
  145. Kiev can not threaten our blood ties with Russia.
  146. Let us decide our own future.
  147. Warner: Back in the city, Donetsk University professor,
    Karill Cherkashin
  148. devotes his free time to coordinating
    the pro-Russia demonstrations.
  149. He says his feelings of separatism have grown.
  150. Cherkashin: I actually always thought of myself
    as being Russian.
  151. And I always thought that Ukraine should integrate
  152. within Russia.
  153. Now I think it should be our part of Ukraine first.
  154. Warner: Demonstrations by locals are not difficult
  155. to organize, he said.
  156. And he acknowledged that there are
  157. Russians involved too, who often egg on the crowds.
  158. Cherkashin: Yes, there are some people
    coming from Russia.
  159. They are extremists that just love
  160. to do revolution inside their own country.
  161. People are becoming quite aggressive.
  162. We can stop it if our government
    would listen to their people.
  163. But I predict this weekend we will see
    more violent clashes.
  164. Warner: An ominous forecast from a region of Ukraine
  165. not known for such strife before.