A mob of pro-Russian protesters savagely attacked a pro-Ukrainian rally with clubs, metal rods, rocks, tear gas, and smoke bombs, killing a 22-year-old local man and seriously injuring scores of others Thursday in Lenin Square in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine.
According to witnesses, the pro-Ukrainian rally consisted mostly of local men and women, some with children, who came there after work to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine against Russia’s attempts to split the country. This angered a pro-Russian rally nearby, which held Russian flags and demanded that the coal-mining region be separated from Ukraine and joined with Russia.
At some point rocks, eggs, and smoke grenades started flying from the pro-Russian side towards a line of people who chanted Ukrainian slogans while holding a long banner with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. As the rally ended, a large crowd of angry Russian nationalists surrounded their opponents, hurling ethnic insults, and preventing them from leaving. The confrontation quickly became violent.
A slide show on this Ukrainian news site has the pictures. A 25-minute YouTube video, posted the same day by a local citizen reporter, shows uninterrupted footage of the most violent stage of the riot, helping to reconstruct the events.
As the police succeeded in letting most of the pro-Ukrainian side leave the square, they themselves got surrounded by an angry mob, with about twenty bloodied people huddled together next to a police bus inside a protective circle of policemen. The law enforcement, represented by both local and military police, was outnumbered; an officer was heard calling for reinforcement.
The crowd chanted “Russia! Russia!” while also screaming threats, insults, and ethnic slurs. They also chanted “On your knees,” demanding that the Ukrainian patriots kneel before their tormentors, who waved Russian flags.
As rocks, bottles, and smoke bombs continued to fly, the police managed to get the battered men into the bus, but the attackers slashed the tires and broke the windows, throwing more rocks and smoke bombs inside the bus, spraying pepper spray and forcing the people out into the street.
As the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators climbed out of the bus windows back into the street, the crowd broke the police barrier and began to beat up the unarmed men with fists and clubs, leaving several of them lying on the pavement, covered in blood, all the while calling their victims “fascists” and “faggots.” A few who tried to escape by breaking through the crowd were surrounded and beaten.
The chant “On your knees!” continued as the surrounded and beaten people, many of them unable to stand, crouched on the ground, which the mob finally perceived as compliance with their demand to kneel. Having carried the wounded away, the police were finally able to escort the remaining few to safety.
The video ends with the camera pointing downwards, as one of the pro-Russian attackers demands that the cameraman stop shooting because the footage may wind up in the “wrong” hands. During the time of this writing this video added half a million views on YouTube, with many comments in both Russian and broken English cheering the beating of Ukrainians and blaming America for the violence.
In another video, which shows an injured man being taken to an ambulance, gloating voices refer to him as a “Bandera” (a slur against Ukrainian nationalists) and an intruder from Maidan who got what he deserved for taking American money. This and other comments in the videos, as well as multiple pro-Russian comments on various YouTube threads, reveal a paranoid, hateful mind-set, which boils down to the following presumptions:
(a) The Ukrainian revolution was the result of a vast Western-Zionist conspiracy against Russia; (b) all pro-Ukrainian demonstrators are violent Nazis, fascists, and traitors who have been paid with dollars by their American, European, and Zionist masters; and (c) the demonstrators are all intruders from Western Ukraine, the land of hateful worshipers of the “Nazi collaborator” Stepan Bandera
Such absurd beliefs are the result of a massive campaign of lies, distortions, provocations, and propaganda that the Putin government has been disseminating through all available media channels, both inside Russia and in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine, aiming to discredit and demonize the recent popular uprising against the corrupt pro-Russian government of Victor Yanukovich. Among the various reasons to suppress the Ukrainian revolution, probably the most important one was the Kremlin’s fear that it may soon spread from Maidan to Red Square.