In Digest, Ukraine

Interview by Susann Witt-Stahl with Pevel Shakun,  in Junge Welt, Nov 18, 2014. Pavel Shkun is a leader and organize of self defense effort in the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Translated for Solidarity Against the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (UK) by Willy H.

Why did you form a miner’s division?

My father was in the Red Army. My uncle fought in the infantry miner’s division (established in 1941) and died September 8th 1943, the day Stalino, as Donetsk was called at the time, was liberated of fascism. This division had the reputation of being extremely tenacious. The enemy had one rule: Never try to take a miner captive. They will resist until the end.

..meaning when they were injured they were killed?

Yes

How did you organize the formation of the “Schakhstorskaya Division” and who instructed the fighters?

After the peace demonstration of June 18th, the first 200 miners joined. They were trained by former officers of the Red Army who today are citizens of Donetsk, Schakhtyorsk and other neighbouring cities.

What pushed the miners to volunteer?

They are concerned about a good neighbourly relations with Russia, about the economic situation and about the resistance against fascism and the rule of the oligarchy. The people don’t accept the gap between poor and rich and want to build a socialist society. This applies not only to “Schakhstyorskaya Division” but to the whole army of Novorossia.

Where do the weapons and equipment come from?

When the Ukrainian army had to leave the region, some soldiers changed sides, others left their military depots without a fight. Additionally our militias were able to capture many weapons during the battles.

How is the division financed?

Donations by citizens of Donetsk.

Do the soldiers get paid?

No. We feed them. Sometimes they get cigarettes and other things from local companies.

Where does the division fight?

At the region south and west of Donetsk and at the airport.

How old are the fighters?

Recently a grandmother came with her 17 year old grandson who wanted to enlist but we didn’t let him fight at the front. The men there are between 40 and 60, most of them experienced former soldiers of the Red Army.

Are there international fighters in your division?

Yes. A few days ago I noticed that the driver of my car was a Pashtun from Afghanistan.

Are there Russians with you..?

We are all Russians (laughing). Yes, for instance recently men from Petersburg called me, who wanted to join my division.

How many fighters were killed so far?

I can’t tell you a number, it’s secret.

Which experiences did you make in the battle with the fascist battalions and the foreign soldiers and what are the differences between them and the regular Ukrainian army?

Many foreign soldiers are fighting on the Ukrainian side. Our military experts say that the Poles are the best. In the regular army there are more young men. The members of the volunteer battalions may be more experienced, but in the end there is no big difference. When I visited a friend of mine, who’s in our army and who’s killed several enemies so far, in the hospital he told me: “I want more blood; I need the smell of blood”.

It makes no matter if you are from “Azov”, if you are a mercenary or a soldier, if you are for the Ukraine or for Donetsk PR. He who smells blood wants it again and again. It changes the human consciousness. My friend is a scientist, but since he saw blood, he wants to kill again.

You hear again and again that the militias of the Donetsk PR don’t take the Fascists captive but simply execute them.

Azov or Ukrainian army – we take all hostile fighters that we can get captive and put them into prisoner exchange, even one of the men who burned people at the massacre in Odessa. These people are incited by propaganda. We give them the opportunity to understand that this is not their war. Many mothers of the soldiers demonstrate as well. Maybe one day it will open the eyes of the Ukrainians.

*****

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