Before the national election, a visit to Kharkiv

From a former student in the Borderland:

Kharkiv is worth a visit for anyone who wants to understand what is happening in the East… In the words of my friend, it’s something like Coke Light.

There’s a full set of striped ribbons (a Soviet symbol) on the walls, and the Ukrainian flags painted on the pylons of the bridge are marred with big Xs. A small guard surrounds the statue of Lenin. The metal rails for carriages and handrails have been removed; grates and fencing use little metal. … I asked a friend: “Why do you have so much room between the for hand-holds for climbing the steps? This is inconvenient! She said, “They removed the rails so no one could use them to beat each other.” The city lives its own life. Pretty quiet (it turns out, we were on the middle of ta rally we have not even noticed), and sometimes a little strange.

But, if you talk to people, they make things clear: “We don’t believe the Russian media, nor Ukrainian, either.”

“So who do you believe?”

“If three acquaintances confirm information independently then we believ that information.”

The same applies to the situation in Donbass. “There is a system alert,” one grandmother said. “Information is passed from hand to hand.”

In Kramatorsk, they get the information from the radio. “Mother’s Radio–Radio which is exclusively Russian. And the TV channels, too,” said my companion. Although, according to him, people have become calmer with regard to their reactions to gunfire outside, even the older generation.

The most important thing is that I brought from there is that reliable and good people from the East simply want their voices to be heard. But all they hear is scary talk. The reason: lack of independent media. The army is not held in high esteem because they over-react, like “militias” as they prefer to be called. “Recently in the cemetery we buried 20 local guys. Local guys, not terrorists, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were shot at a roadblock. And no one takes the responsibility for such acts,” says my companion. “The referendum brought out many people, even those who are afraid before. They thought ought everything would be fair and square,” he said.

We all want the elections to be fair, but we do not exclude the possibility of election fraud.

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