Press TV, Donetsk
Donetsk, the capital of the Donbas Peoples’ Republic on a sleepy Sunday morning. The frontline is only six kilometres away. The occasional boom of artillery or anti air defence can be heard.
Most of the people on the streets are women. Since Russia entered the conflict, conscription was introduced here. And while the DPR militias have majority support I have heard of some men who stay in their apartments 24/7 so as not to be forced to join.
The majority of people here are Russian speakers with a proud Russian culture. A bust of Pushkin, the famous Russian poet stands outside the Drama theatre. And in the main square, Lenin.
Since the nationalistic Ukrainian government took power in Kiev in 2014, they have attempted to impose their agenda on majority Russian areas, pulling down statues and forcing institutions to drop Russian as an official language. There has also been the killing of dozens of pro Russian activists. This is what led to Donbas rising up and attempting to create a breakaway state.
The flags of Donbas and Russia side by side. While at first demanding autonomy, since the war they are adamant they want to be independent or to join Russia.
President Zelensky recently said that negotiations are the only way to end this conflict. If lasting peace is to be made. The rights, culture and wishes of the 4 million people here in Donbas need to be taken into account.