In Digest, Ukraine

‘You want to scream for vengeance’: An Italian recounts kiev’s war crimes against Lugansk

An interview with Donbas-based researcher Eliseo Bertolasi. He is an anthropologist as well as researcher with the Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie of Rome. This interview originally appeared on La Voce della Russia and was translated by Daniele Pozzati and Michael McDonnell. It appears on Russia Insider.

Eliseo Bertolasi

Eliseo Bertolasi

You are just back from the Lugansk region. Tell us, has the Minsk truce taken place there after the agreed February 15th?

The truce raised many hopes. I was in Lugansk on February 16th but it has basically not eventuated. I am a witness right on the spot in the Western part of Lugansk region, around such towns as Zorinsk, Chernukino, Perevalsk, Pervomaisk, Stakhanov. The militias told me that in that area the front runs in a parallel, kind of comb-shaped way, the opposing lines crossing and intersecting one another. The risk of encountering Ukrainian units is real and pretty sobering. From early afternoon, in the town of Zorinsk, one could hear explosions, incoming artillery and Grad. On the same morning, towards 10:00, a cluster shot, obviously fired by the Ukrainians, killed an elderly man and seriously wounded another person. One could still see traces of blood in the snow, after several hours and a storm notwithstanding.

Having seen the destruction, how do you imagine the people’s emergence from their predicament after the war? How will they live and what sort of economy will they rebuild? These towns are destroyed.

That is exactly the problem. The war has been raging for months all over the Donbass region. For months, infrastructures have been intentionally targeted and wrecked, so that if the Novorossiya were ever to become autonomous, it will face extremely high reconstruction costs. And this with an economy already badly affected by the war.

What has impressed you the most, what will you bring home from your stay in the Donbass?

The suffering of the people, certainly. I have seen the exact spot where that old man was killed. His wife recognized me as a journalist, and took me home to show me her husband in the coffin. It was a very touching, very dramatic scene. Her voice broken, she showed me the shrapnel that killed her husband. You want to scream for vengeance. I think that once the general public has reached this level of suffering it is very difficult to conceive a return to pre-Maidan Ukraine.

Italian mass media seem to have changed their approach, and started to cover this conflict after months of silence. Have they too finally begun to admit the truth of what is really happening?

Yes, I am positive about that. Gradually, things are changing in Italy. In this connection I think of the contribution that Il Fatto Quotidiano [an Italian newspaper] has made. Even Vauro Senesi [a popular cartoonist in Italy] was in Lugansk with me a couple of months ago.

Here is a recent video report, in Italian, by Eliseo Bertolasi.



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