As part of a wider drive to expand the media presence of the Donbass republics, The Donetsk People’s Republic has set up a phone-line as part of an effort to help unify Donbass.
Unsurprisingly, the phone-line has been receiving calls from many areas outside of the two Donbass republics including from Odessa, Kharkov and Ternopol.
Although totally ignored by the western mainstream media, in the aftermath of the illegal coup in Kiev in early 2014, there were many anti-fascist demonstrations throughout Novorossiya and indeed beyond, not only in Donetsk and Lugansk.
There are clear historic, linguistic, ethnic and demographic explanations for the phone-line’s popularity outside of the two Donbass republics.
The Eastern/Southeastern regions of what became the Ukrainian Society Socialist Republic were part of the historic Russian region of Novorossiya (New Russia). After being ruled by the Golden Horde of the Mongols, the region became part of the Crimean Khanate of Ottoman Turkey. The area was gradually transferred to Russia during the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th century.
In 1764 the lands were united under Catherine The Great.
The regions soon took on a thoroughly Russia character in spite of an emigration policy which encouraged people to come to Novorossiya from as far away as Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The Black Sea Port of Odessa retained a multi-cultural atmosphere into the Soviet era.
In 2014, throughout this region, protests erupted in the aftermath of the fascist coup in Kiev. Protests against the new fascist junta and in favour of historic ties to Russia took place, most notably in the former Ukrainian capital of Kharkov and the port city of Mariupol.
But it was in Odessa a city known for its tolerance and even its bohemianism, where things became incredibly ugly.
On the 2nd of May, 2014,a combination of far-right thugs affiliated with the neo-Nazi group Right Sector and football hooligans, all from outside of the area, turned up with the intent of causing harm to the peaceful protesters, many of whom were in their teens.
Things went from bad to worse when the peaceful anti-fascist protesters became barricaded inside the Trade Union Building which was set on fire by the baying mob.
Some fell to their deaths, some burnt to death, others were beaten to death after leaping from the flaming building.
The tragedy of the Odessa Massacre played a part in stalling anti-Kiev protests outside of Donbass. Many were afraid that peaceful demonstrations against the new fascist regime would be met with the kind of brutality seen in Odessa in May of 2014.
Occasionally there are still confrontations between anti-fascists and pro-regime groups in Novorossiya. This is especially the case on events such as the 9th of May Victory Day commemorations when fascists have tried to stop civilians from celebrating the end of the Great Patriotic War.
With the Donbass republics repelling continued acts of aggression by a literally bankrupt Kiev regime, the peoples of the parts of Novorossiya still under Kiev control will doubtlessly look increasingly to the virtually assured success story of Donetsk and Lugansk and say ‘what about us’.
The answer will come as the regime in Kiev gradually gets crushed under its own weight and the peoples of Novorossiya realise that they too can peacefully determine their own future.
Until then the new Donetsk phone-line might serve as a kind of information lifeline in confusing and uncomfortable times.