Fighting in Donetsk Central Square: East Ukraine on the Brink of Mass Violence

BBC is reporting on a clash in the central square of Donetsk (east Ukraine) between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian crowds, in which one person died.  Reports in the online version of the Kiev newspaper Delo
and the online news source Novosti Donbassa (Don Basin News) suggest that “pro-Russian activists” were the aggressors.  According to these sources, the “activists” attacked a meeting (variously described as “anti-war” and “pro-Ukrainian unity”, on the square which was protected by a police cordon as well as a “self-defense” group.  The activists showered the demonstrators with firecrackers, smoke bombs and eggs before breaking through the cordon, and savagely beating many of them.  Some reports already claim three dead.

The total number of people in the square is being reported as around 2000 on both sides.  This is large, but not overwhelmingly so.  Again, one has the impression of a highly aggressive minority of “pro-Russian activists”/paramilitary provoking the violence.  The readiness of the authorities in Russia to support this kind of thing, to further destabilize a very dangerous situation, is not hopeful, especially when put together with the new military exercises being staged on the Ukrainian frontier.

Few rational political observers believe that Putin is actually preparing an invasion/annexation of east Ukraine (as opposed to Crimea).  There is some evidence, however, that he *is* doing so.  Or that he is losing control of “pariotic” Russian hotheads he had hoped to use.  If mass violence breaks out in east Ukraine, it will make Bosnia look like a picnic.  One has to believe that these violent Russian “activists” are ready for some ethnic cleansing.  All of this will be, in the end, on Putin’s head.  There is *no* independent evidence of persecution of Russians in east Ukraine.  There is plenty of evidence of aggressive violence perpetrated by the “activist” thugs.

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