Life in Donetsk: Strange but also normal

ON MAY 11th, a balmy Sunday in Donetsk, people walked along the leafy boulevard, played with their children and sipped coffee in street cafés. Yet close by armed thugs in balaclavas guard a barricade fortified with barbed wire and tyres. A flag of the Donetsk people’s republic flutters atop an ugly ex-Soviet local government building. The city’s two realms seem separated by an invisible boundary.The interior of the seized government building is a cross between a hostel for the homeless and a militant stronghold decorated with hate posters. Each floor has its own rules. “Attention: training of how to assemble and disassemble weapons on floor five.” Yet the rebels have left the running of the city and its utilities to local authorities, concentrating on commandeering arms and helping themselves to cars. The Donetsk rebellion seems like a cover for gangsters. On May 11th the rebels held a “referendum” on self-rule for the Donetsk people’s republic that was essentially a stunt. To create an illusion of mass attendance, the number of polling stations was reduced fourfold. In some cities, such as Mariupol, only four were open. The long queues that…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/europe/21602290-rebels-and-ordinary-citizens-rub-along-same-boulevard-strange-also-normal?fsrc=rss|eur

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