Press release, April 21, 2015
Two Canadian writers have returned from a reporting mission to eastern Ukraine. Roger Annis and Halyna Mokrushyna were part of a four-day reporting tour to the city of Donetsk and the countryside to the east of the city from April 14 to 18. The tour was organized by Europa Objektiv, an initiative of citizens in Russia and Germany working to provide information about the war in eastern Ukraine to foreign writers and journalists.
The tour group comprised writers and filmmakers from Canada, the United States, Italy, Holland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. It met with leaders of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, with academics and with human rights and civil activists.
The Donetsk residents and representatives whom the group met described the present war in Ukraine as a violent response by a right-wing government in Kyiv to their legitimate demands for political rights . The ‘Russian Spring’ protest movement in eastern Ukraine last year opposed the policies of austerity-style economic association with Europe and hostility and threats against Russia by the government that came to power in a coup in February 2014.
The group visited several of the residential districts in Donetsk city that are hardest hit by the artillery and ground attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces during the past year. Shelling has escalated in the past several weeks, leading many residents to tell the group that the ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015 is an agreement “on paper” only.
Political leaders and activists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions remain hopeful that the government in Kyiv can be pressured to recognize the legitimacy of demands for political autonomy. What is required, they told the tour group, is an internal political change in Ukraine. This must include an accounting for the grave violations of human rights committed by Kyiv during the war, including shelling of towns and cities, use of cluster weapons and torture, and blockading of social services and humanitarian aid.
In the days following the media tour group’s visit to Donetsk, two journalists outspoken against the Kyiv government and one political opposition leader were shot dead in the streets of Kyiv. Many other journalists and political figures have died or been jailed in the past few months. In 2014, Ukraine became one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to work.
Halyna Mokrushyna grew up in Ukraine. She teaches at the University of Ottawa and is a frequent writer on Ukraine for Counterpunch, Truthout and other publications. Roger Annis is a resident of Vancouver BC, a frequent writer on Ukraine and an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond.
Contact: For interviews with Halyna Mokrushyna or Roger Annis, write to [email protected].