A message from Donetsk – From joining with hope to fleeing the violence

Q: Please introduce yourself and explain why you want to have this interview published.

I called you for this interview and ask you to publish it because I want my side of the story to be told without interference. You may call me Sergei, we both know it is not my real name but given the situation I want to stay anonymous and not risk my friends and family (*). These are dangerous times, I give you this interview under the condition that my identity will not be revealed.

I am from Donetsk, I am Russian born in Ukraine when it was still part the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union fell apart I became Ukrainian because my family has lived in Donbas for generations, my father has built a blooming family business here and didn’t want to leave. My father said he was born as Russian in Ukraine and will die as Russian in Ukraine. Back then, I was in Russia in de Soviet Army and followed my father’s decision so I was transferred to Ukraine as Ukrainian (*). Becoming more and more disappointed in the Kiev government, I resigned and joined our family business in Donetsk.

My passport says I am Ukrainian but I feel Russian, I am Russian, always have been Russian and always will be Russian. We know each other for many years, you know this has always been my point of view. Please don’t get me wrong, this is my personal sentiment about being Russian, not the sentiment of all people in Donbas, especially not in Donetsk. Even my younger brother doesn’t agree with me and he still proudly serves as Ukrainian Officer. My sister on the other hand lives in Crimea and cried from happiness when she received her Russian passport, she feels liberated from Ukrainian occupation. My father is and will always be a Ukrainian-Russian, until his last breath. This shows you how divided we are and I believe you will find the same all over Donbas and other parts of Ukraine.

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