McClatchy reports: Katarina Butko smiled Monday evening as she looked at what she’d organized: a line of 15 cars decorated with the yellow and blue flag of Ukraine. They were seconds away from leaving on a motoring campaign around town, “to wake the sleeping pro-Ukrainian people.”
The idea was simple: Polls consistently show that residents of this region of southeastern Ukraine bordering Russia overwhelmingly believe in a united Ukraine. But a small, loud and violent minority has grabbed international headlines and scared residents into hiding their beliefs.
The driving, honking tour was scheduled to last an hour. It had to be abandoned about 30 minutes later, though, when pro-Russian separatists, some wearing masks, some not, some stumbling from drink, attacked the caravan with baseball bats and more. Butko’s car was put out of service when a Molotov cocktail smashed the front window.
But a later rally attracted what Ukrainian media reported to be 5,000 people, a reflection of a reality that many here believe the international media misses by focusing on the violence with which such gatherings have ended.
“There really aren’t many active pro-Russians around Donetsk these days,” said Yuri Temirov, vice dean of international relations at Donetsk National University. “But those few are very aggressive. The aggressive pro-Ukrainian side tends to focus more on petitions and legal frameworks for ending the crisis here. This doesn’t make for very exciting newscasts.” [Continue reading…]