Last week, separatist publications continued to discuss the problem of absence of MTS mobile operator in the occupied Donbass. The issues of forthcoming elections in the "republics" appeared from time to time. The topic of "scheduled" "military"-style activities, aimed at preparing reservists for the replenishment of the "republics'" hybrid army, which burst into the information space, is among the new ones.
If the war is tomorrow…
Military preparations of the "young republics" clearly showed that "the people and the party" are not united at all. Throughout the week, social networks literally broke off from the messages of local residents of the "DNP/LNR" that men are massively called into the so-called "military registration and enlistment offices", and sent to mysterious "exercises" after passing medical inspection. Corresponding draft notices and orders to the heads of enterprises to ensure the appearance of potential "meat" to the positions of assembly were posted on the Internet. The military registration and enlistment offices' invitations did not specify where exactly and for what period military aged males were taken. But the draft notices included a list of documents and things to take with: "passport, driving license (if any), medical card, personal care items, several sets of things, underwear, threads with needles and meals ready to eat for the first time". It is revealing that signals about calls to the military registration and enlistment offices and compulsory appearance to the "positions of assembly" appeared simultaneously in both "republics". At the same time, against the backdrop of atmosphere, close to panic, prevailing "in the bottoms", the "tops" kept a deathly silence.
But the Ukrainian media have simultaneously generated materials about the unhealthy activity of military leadership in the occupied territories on the basis of publications in social networks. Separatist propaganda could not swallow it - the leaders of the "DNR/LNR" recognized that "reservists' meetings" are being held. "Currently, in order to prepare reserved citizens for military skills, planned training sessions with reserved citizens, intended for the reserve component of the People's Militia (illegal armed formations - OstroV) are held in stages in the units of the People's Militia in January-February 2018", – Lugansk Media Centre quoted the words of self-appointed "chief enlistment officer of the LNR" Igor Marshuba. The fact that preparation of nonregulars for the "republic" service is a serious matter is evidenced by the fact that those who are called to the "exercises" will receive "cash allowances as for servicemen in the units of the people's militia" in addition to their wages on the job for the "entire period of training".
The fact of "training assembly" was confirmed in the "DNR". Separatist media released a statement of Alexander Zakharchenko that this is solely scheduled activities.
However, the essence of compulsory explanations was not to recognize the facts about the "exercises" that had long been known to all the residents of CDDLO. Their main goal was to refute the suspicions that hidden mobilization preparations began in the occupied Donbass in case of escalation of the situation in ATO zone. "There is no mobilization of reservists, only a meeting. After completion of the planned meeting, the best nonregulars will be awarded", - DAN quotes the words of the terrorist.
Meanwhile, neither panic messages of the residents of CDDLO, nor publications of the Ukrainian media said anything about the started mobilization or drafting. It was solely about training the personnel reserve for illegal armed formations. By the way, this type of training, that is, the mass determination of status of men of the corresponding age, granting them a temporary determent or transfer to the reserve is just part of the mobilization measures. So the residents of the "republics" are not worried for nothing…
Last week, as well as the last two days, on the territory of the "DNR", not only Vodafone (MTS) mobile communication, but the occupation authorities that bluntly did not know what to say to the people about this were silent. On Monday, separatist media released a statement of self-described "Minister of Communications" Viktor Yatsenko, saying that he had asked the Ukrainian operator to send experts "to launch the network in the territory of the DNR" and demanded to pay for the electricity consumed. After that, no other official statement about the fate of MTS in the occupied Donbass followed. The "Minister" actually went into the information underground and was giving advice to those who do not complain about the disgusting connection from Phoenix separatist operator through not very popular Telegram. It turns out that in XXI century, you need to restart the phones by transferring them to the Aircraft mode, where all functions that make the device a means of communication are disconnected, in order to get through to someone in the center of Donetsk. Then you need to get out of this mode and then, according to Yatsenko, you can make calls on the phone with Phoenix SIM card. "So, we have a crutch, but decision. If you have a problem with dialing in Donetsk, transfer your phone to the Aircraft mode and back. #PHoenix", - he wrote.
Against the background of complete tranquility of the authorities, people continued to vigorously discuss the prospects for the restoration of normal mobile communications. Predictably, having not believed in the regular assurances of the "minister" that Ukraine is guilty, people decided to go to a rally on Lenin Square in Donetsk with a demand to power to return MTS. Several publications with appeals to actively stick up for your own rights appeared in the network.
Blogger and publicist Alexander Bolotin, popular in the "DNR", tried to cool the hot heads. He recalled that any spontaneous actions are prohibited by the occupation authorities, that is, "any participant will be beyond the law". According to him, HD cameras are mounted on Lenin Square and "if there is a crowd, security officials identify the group in minutes". He advised organizers and participants of the action to block their pages in social networks, pull a SIM card of ill-fated MTS out from their phones and clean up all their gadgets. "Take care of your ribs, knees, ankles (security officials will knock you down with a blow under the knees) .The clothes should be comfortable for obstacle race on snow and ice. This is a real threat, not a game", - one of the activists of Russian Spring in Donetsk competently instructed potential rebels.
From all appearances, the special services of the "republic" managed to put down a "mutiny aboard" without using rubber batons. Publications with appeals to go to a rally in defence of MTS suddenly disappeared from the network. The rally did not happen...
After the failed "triumph of the people's declaration of will", the residents of the "republic" switched to passive methods of struggle for quality communication. There was a large number of reports on where there is still signal from the Ukrainian Vodafone in the occupied part of the Donetsk oblast. A "network coverage" map was jointly compiled.
Social networks were filled with tips where to go to call someone in free Ukraine, receive/send SMS or check your bank account. Bridges, hills and roofs of some skyscrapers suddenly became objects of pilgrimage for people with mobile phones.
Cunning businessmen immediately offered a new type of service - trips to places with Vodafone signal with average price of 150 occupational rubles ($2.7).
"The 21st century... Donetsk... No mobile connection in the city... Local network has not been put in order yet... People go 25 km away from the city center to call their relatives, do banking operations in the... field... They ruined everything in a once prosperous city and covered everything with a beautiful wrapper... RETURN MTS!", - Alexander Bolotin wrote indignantly.
Attempts to neutralize the anger of the population were made by "patriots of Donbass", who spread a huge text on the Internet, which tried to prove that the occupation authorities did the right thing by cutting off MTS network. The title of this text was "The Ministry of Communications of the DNR against Ukrainian punishers and their masters". The authors of this panegyric tell us that "with all the enemy's desire to deprive us of mobile communications and the Internet, they did not accomplish anything - we do have a connection and the Internet. Yes, the quality of the services is not perfect, but everything works and the enemy failed to achieve the desired result... An analysis of all available information allows us to make a confident conclusion that despite the direct attack on the communication segment, thanks to the staff of the DNR Ministry of Communications and personally to Viktor Yatsenko, we held on and won". More or less "official" separatist media did not publish this text. It was shared by numerous anti-Maidan websites and social networks.
At the very end of the week, Denis Pushilin, who calls himself "Speaker of the People's Council of the DNR", broke the vow of silence. He acknowledged that the termination of Vodafone's work is "a very serious problem". According to him, it, first of all, concerns pensioners. At the same time, Pushilin traditionally accused Ukraine. "It is impossible to find an understanding of the restoration of the Ukrainian company's work within our capabilities and outside the Minsk negotiations. We decided to bring up this situation on the Minsk talks... The place of the breakdown is in the territory controlled by Ukraine, therefore the situation is being dragged out", - DAN quoted him.
Shadow of elections
By the way, the lack of normal mobile communication has become an excellent catalyst for the process of insight, even for the most dedicated to the "republic". In particular, the same Alexander Bolotin very "unpatriotically" reacted to a series of photographs of Abkhazia, devastated by the "Russian world". "Sobering up from the hot 2014 comes gradually... Everything gets worse and worse... It seems like Donetsk will have the same fate... The outskirts of the city got similar to the photos in this article long ago..." - he writes and asks a rhetorical question: "What has changed in the DNR in recent years, except for second-rate food in stores?".
Without a doubt, it would be a great exaggeration to say that an opposition to the idea of "Novorossia" is emerging in the occupied territories. In fact, increasingly emerging critical publications are not directed against the "republics", but exclusively against their leaders. As if such a horrible situation can be resolved by planned for autumn 2018 election of new "head of the Republic" and "deputies".
The main ideologist of the "democratic" change of power in the occupied territory is the creator of the Vostok terrorist battalion, the former "minister of the state security of the DNR", disgraced Alexander Khodakovsky. At the same time, the militant, who wants to "elect and be elected", is not completely sure that he will be admitted to the electoral process at all. "Zakharchenko got into a difficult situation: not letting me stand as candidate is to admit his own defeat and show fear for the result, giving out his uncertainty. Then everyone can say that he is simply frightened of competition, and I will just despise him. But to give me the opportunity to participate in the elections is to derail all his work of recent years in an attempt to erase us and even the very memory of us", - he wrote in social networks. Khodakovsky did not hide that he had already begun his election campaign. "He who got used to put the interests of the country and society first and foremost, will not change his nature. I have been serving the society for a long time, so that it became a habit, and the habit, as you know, is a sticky thing", - he praised himself.
However, if you read the separatist publications, you can see that the team of the "head of the republic" is much more interested in Putin's fourth presidency than the second term of Zakharchenko’s service. So, the adviser to the leader of the "republic" Alexander Kazakov on his Facebook page for some reason launched a campaign to discredit the candidate for president of Russia from the Communist Party. "Do you remember, I said that I was suspicious of presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin?... From the very beginning I suspected that his campaign would not be simple and transparent: Putin's campaign is simple and transparent, as well as Zhirinovsky's and Sobchak's. What about Grudinin's?".
One of the creators of the so-called "Ministry of Information of the DNR" Marina Berezhneva told her subscribers that Grudinin once said at a press conference that Russia should not help the residents of CDDLO. "Son of a b***ch", - she commented briefly on the statement of the Russian communist that "the residents of Donbass must independently sort out their conflict with Kyiv".
It can be assumed that the elections in the "DNR" will be held according to the Russian scenario: the right candidate and a "son of a b***ch". As they say, vote with your heart.
The review was prepared by Yuriy Bovkh, OstroV