The past week in the occupied part of Donbass was boring and less informative. Back-and-forth around the cutting-off of MTS Ukrainian mobile operator stopped because people began to look for alternative communication channels instead of small talk. Some movement into media space was made by the statement of main propagandist of the "DNR" Eduard Basurin about the forthcoming offensive of the Ukrainian army on the "republics". Moreover, separatist media tried to force the residents of the occupied territories to give heart to the "heroes" who died for their own unfreedom…
So, the statement of self-proclaimed "deputy commander of the operational command of the DNR Eduard Basurin about the all-out attack of the "Ukes" was the topic number one in the occupation media. So, on February 5, the militant mobilized local journalists for a briefing in a fast-track manner, where he told them that the Ukrainian Armed Forces planned to unleash a real war in the Donbass from day to day. Allegedly, the reconnaissance of the DNR provided the "operational command" with an absolutely precise plan for the military campaign, providing for the AFU to attack from four directions. Basurin pour out special terms like "with the support of artillery", "the first defensive line" and so on with an air of experienced commander. He illustrated his data with detailed maps of potential military operations.
Local journalists did not finish military colleges, therefore they omitted strategic details in their publications, focusing on the concluding remark of the "deputy commander" that "the blitzkrieg, planned by the AFU, will not bring the expected result to the Ukrainian party, and in case of armed aggression against the People's Republics, the enemy will be inflicted irreparable damage". Most publications appeared with calls in the manner of "DNR warned: the AFU offensive on the Donbass will be the last in the history of Ukraine", "We are waiting for the AFU offensive for a long time, the DNR army is ready", "DNR forces are ready to repel offensive of Ukrainian army".
Former commander of Horlivka militants Igor Bezler ("Bes"), now disgraced, analyzed the clever words of Basurin, studied the maps carefully and criticized all he said. He noted that based on the "intelligence data of the DNR", the planned "massive offensive" of the AFU is not massive at all, but nothing out of the common… "I had supper, drank coffee, smoked and thoroughly listened to the briefing on something incomprehensible and looked at the cuneiform that was presented… And this is how the apocalypse described by Basurin looks like: 4 tanks with the support of 6 artillery guns go on the offensive on 1 km of the front. I listened to the words: "the breakthrough of security area and the first defensive line is area of defense of the first echelon battalions", and stopped listening to this nonsense. A couple of questions after it again. Either the AFU were foisted a pure misinformation, and Basurin read this balderdash out aloud, or the corps intelligence chief is an idiot and gave these data, being in comatose condition. Then it is time to boot out these idiots".
Similar thoughts were voiced by one of the active propagandists of the Russian World in the Donbass Yevgeniy Tinianskiy (Karaul). He wrote in social networks, in particular: "On-camera, Basurin spieled off another speech about the impending blow from Ukraine, seriously, with slides. It is clear for whom it was. And now imagine how the enemy's officer personnel, who studied military topography, make fun of these cave drawings. They make fun of these morons, but I'm the one who is embarrassed".
But nobody was listening to Bes and Karaul: separatist media continued to talk about the terrible threat hanging over the "republics" and the readiness of the "people's militia" to stop the offensive of the Ukrainian army. After Alexander Zakharchenko confirmed a dubious forecast by Basurin and his "scouts", the journalists issued a new series of statements along the lines of "it will be a walk-over". It is revealing that almost all the media in their victorious publications managed to prepare full-fledged news, quoting a single phrase of the "DNR" leader: "We are waiting for an offensive for a long time, we know the approximate directions of the offensive, but our army is ready".
Alexander Zakharchenko is perfectly right in recognition of the fact that the quasi-republic has long and regularly waits for the AFU offensive. Information that "the Ukes go on to the offensive" is thrown into the information space of the "republics" on an annoyingly regular basis. In a cruel irony, the very same day the year before, on February 5, 2017, Eduard Basurin also convened journalists for an urgent briefing and warned "the citizens of the DNR" through local media that "intelligence reported accurately" – the Ukrainian army concentrated forces and resources to create the main attack force. "This data allows us to draw a conclusion on the preparation of offensive combat along the entire contact line by the AFU command on the order of the military and political leadership of Ukraine", - the speaker said in a last year's publication of the "official" website of the "DNR". And the final phrase of Basurin looks a complete deja vu: "Our troops are ready to give the enemy a fitting rebuff". Such a Groundhog Day…
Of the dead say nothing…
The next block of publications of separatist media is also dates back to the past: last week, the "republics" celebrated the anniversary of death of more or less well-known militants. The official propaganda is trying to make the pantheon of heroes from them yet again. The results are so-so….
The Luhansk media started the topic. A whole series of publications was devoted to the little-known during his lifetime so-called "head of the People's Militia of the LNR" Oleg Anashchenko, blown up in his own car in February 2017. It turned out that "his grandfather was a member of the Young Guard", and he himself, as regimental priest told, "was not only a patriot, but also a spiritual".
There were two potential inspirational persons in the occupied part of the Donetsk oblast this week. First of all, it is Vsevolod Petrovskiy. He fought in the ranks of the terrorist Prizrak Battalion and died on February 8, 2015. DAN and News Front websites told using almost the same words that the parents of the "war correspondent" handed personnel baggage, documents and awards of his son over to the Great Patriotic War Museum of Military History. "The personnel baggage of Vsevolod Petrovskiy replenished the "Heroes of the Donetsk People's Republic" museum exposition. Also, the parents of the deceased war correspondent held a commemoration gathering in the museum, where it was told about the life and the work of their son during the conflict in the Donbass. The event was visited by the museum staff and schoolchildren from the Kyivskyi district of Donetsk", - the twin publications said.
Finally, last week, separatist media recalled the infamous, but still legendary terrorist nicknamed Givi. Mikhail Tolstykh turned out to be the most suitable figure for forming the image of the “Novorossia hero”. His "canonization" was conducted according to all the rules of the Soviet agitprop. Schools held an additional special lesson titled "Givi is always alive".
DAN published an article in the style of "What kind of guy he was" with interviews from the Ilovaisk school where the future militant studied. They held a rally, attended by "the head of the central executive committee of the social movement Donetsk Republic Natalia Volkova, the deputy head of the Ilovaisk administration Konstantin Ustimenko, the rector of the Holy Ascension Church holy father Martiriy, relatives, colleagues of the deceased and schoolchildren". Naturally, Givi's mother spoke of her son playing fray and dreaming of becoming a machinist. What prevented him from fulfilling his dream and why, at the time of the beginning of the "Russian spring", Mikhail Tolstykh, aged 34, worked as a security guard in a supermarket, she did not specify.
Alexander Zakharchenko also mentioned his "military comrade". He said that the best gift to the deceased would be the punishment of his killers. "All the persons, who are involved in this, have been identified, some have been detained, but not all. We will do it this year", - the separatist media quoted Zakharchenko as saying. According to him, "those involved in Givi’s death, are directly related to the murder of Arsen Pavlov".
But, of course, the highlight of honoring the deceased "hero" was a cemetery rally. Zakharchenko personally brought to Givi’s grave a large basket of flowers. All journalists wrote about this simultaneously. The "official" website of the "DNR", for example, described how "on February 8, the anniversary of the death of Mikhail Tolstykh, his relatives and colleagues gathered in the cemetery where the legendary commander of the Somali battalion was buried, to commemorate the Hero of the DNR". Photographers avoided wide shots, so that nobody could notice the shameful number of people who came to the cemetery. Unwittingly or unwillingly, only the DAN website reported the truth about "people's love", saying that "about 100 people, including heads and employees of the republic's security agencies" came to commemorate the memory of the Hero”.
This small group of admirers of Givi was very dissonant with last year's pictures of the perfect funeral of the terrorist. Then the separatist mass media used to talk about the never-ending flow of "citizens of the republic" who came to commemorate the memory of the battalion commander who fell in the struggle for their happiness.
An ardent supporter of the "DNR" under the pseudonym "Tanya Makeyevskaya" wrote in social networks with bitterness close to hysteria: "I just came from Givi... I could not stay silent... guys... really, no residents could come except for the military? He gave his life for you... Battalion Commander!!! There was almost nobody there...!!! Everyone “remembers” Givi by not giving a f***k! But you all are brave only online!!! WHAT A SHAME!!!!".
"No, guys, it's not like that..."
The "republican" reality in the publications of the separatists, who are in internal opposition, looks completely different. As the ideological supporter of "Novorossia" Nikolai Vulich writes, people do not want to fight for the "LNR". According to his information (this blogger proved to be a very informed source), "from 5 to 11 February, more than 100 officers of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces were called to check the state of combat readiness and assess the capabilities of the People's Militia of the LNR to carry out tasks. The republican army is reformed and is ready to repulse the imminent attack of Ukraine".
However, - Nikolai Vulich continues, - there is nobody willing to fight in the reformed army. "People do not want to serve even for the money they are offered", - writes the blogger. The publication "If we are conscripted, we will serve our motherland", contains the facts of the almost forced conscription to the "people's militia" in the occupied part of the Luhansk oblast. “The authorities decided to stop the curtsey with the mobilization and started acting in the open. In Lutuhine, military enlistment offices started issuing draft notices to almost everyone. It was officially explained as preventive measures with the aim of the formation of mobilization reservists in case of intensified hostilities... Men obediently visited these enlistment offices...", - he writes.
A similar situation, according to Vulich, was seen in Alchevsk. "My employer told this morning that his brother was also brazenly handed in the draft notice. He and about 90 other males visited the military enlistment office that day", - he told. They all had to fill in a written pledge not to leave town, but the authorities admit that "a lot of the male population will find a way to avoid mobilization". In order to make up for the shortage of personnel, the publication says, the leader of the “LNR” decided to transfer the police to the front. "A friend from the central apparatus of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic told me that they had received an order from the head of the LNR to allocate officers and weapons to strengthen the advanced units of the People’s Militia of the LNR", - Vulich wrote.
His Donetsk opposition colleague Alexander Bolotov posted an analysis of the terrible achievements of the occupied part of the Donetsk oblast in the social network. "The DNR, in fact, deprives people, but nothing is given in return. Akhmetov's humanitarian aid (it was received by everyone who wanted it: pensioners, disabled people, single mothers), intentional disconnection of the Life and MTS mobile operators; forced admission to the social movement "Donetsk republic" (you will be fired if you refuse), intentional increase in fuel prices in autumn 2017, Decree 363 (prohibition for civil servants and state employees to leave the republic)". The separatist is indignant and annoyed. "So what are we building here - the People's Republic? Or the barracks, where everything is done at somebody's command?", - he sums up.
Bolotov calls not to believe the reports of "upstarts from the state system, who often cause disorder and wavering when discussing important political issues online". He ironically calls to "draw up an identifier of "the patriot's guidelines" and not to take comments "we need to suffer just a little longer", "do not whine", "if you do not like it – get out" seriously".
The review was prepared by Yuriy Bovkh, OstroV