Kremlin-backed militants on the hunt for pro-Ukrainian students
Students have told Obozrevatel that armed fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic are turning up at Donetsk National University student hostels and demanding to see lists of foreign students; students from Western Ukraine and those who hold pro-Ukrainian views.
Victoria, a second year student at DNU says that they appear on May 30 and threatened that if anybody went outside at night, they’d be shot. She adds that they promised to carry out a purge.
Ruslan, from a neighbouring hostel, gave more disturbing details. “Foreign students have long left Donetsk, nobody wants to be in a hot spot. I’m afraid they’ll talk to people back home about Donetsk and the Donetsk National University as if it’s a hotbed of Nazism and xenophobia. Ukrainian students are also refusing to conclude the semester at risk to their lives. A friend from the Ternopil oblast says that he doesn’t want to even turn up in Donetsk anymore and is organizing a transfer. It’s particularly dangerous being in Donetsk for those who were on EuroMaidan and talk in Ukrainian.”
He says that even apolitical students from other cities in the oblast are in danger since they have to pass through DPR roadblocks. Armed militants got into a marshrutka [minivan used as a kind of bus-taxi] and checked the papers of all the passengers in turn, staring at each intently. “The search for Bandera supporters continues”, he adds drily, referring to nationalists demonized by the Kremlin and Russian Kremlin-loyal media.
Students with pro-Ukrainian views are also worried that their personal data could be passed to supporters of the terrorists by the former deputy dean of the university who is reported to have become part of the self-proclaimed ‘government’ of the DPR. She has denied any involvement, but the students do not seem convinced. [Her name is omitted since their allegations may be false].
Tatyana Matyash, a Donetsk lawyer stresses that all students with pro-Ukrainian views and foreign students must be enabled to leave and transfer to other universities.
Donetsk human rights activist, Maria Oliynyk says that in Donetsk right now anybody who does not share the DPR’s views has been declared an enemy. “The DPR people essentially set this out in their so-called constituton. Religion is for them Christian Orthodoxy; everything else is a sect; there is one language – Russian, and so forth.”
She notes that after a march in support of Ukraine’s unity in Donetsk on April 28, six students who’d taken part in it were abducted. They were held and ill-treated for around 10 hours. After they were released, she was involved in arranging their evacuation from Donetsk as DPR had threatened to find and kill them. For the moment, she says, this is about saving life, and that takes priority over continuation of studies