On August 9 the Ukrainian newspaper Fakty i Kommentarii [Facts and Commentary] in its section, “It is what it is,” reported an incident in the village of Vorzel in Kyiv Region.  Unknown attackers had torn down the Ukrainian flag from a local school, torn it apart and left it on the square.  The publication quoted an Olga Pochtarenko, allegedly a local woman and mother of three. According to her, the police were fortunate to find the vandals, who turned out to be minors, refugees from the Donbas.

“Unfortunately they cannot be brought to justice, because they are juveniles.  Yet, someone must have inspired them! Which means that the families who live here on our money are hostile to us.  What else can we expect in the future?” Pochtarenko said.

fakty.ua website screenshot
fakty.ua website screenshot

According to Fakty article, the refugees also demonstrated aggressive behaviour in shops and encouraged separatism.

“Buying vodka and snacks in shops, these refugees throw coins in the salesmen’s faces, adding, ‘Here, take it for your ATO!’  From bad to worse. A number of home-made leaflets promoting “DPR victory” was found scattered at a railway station. Recently several fighters of the Aidar battalion were buried in our town; they had heroically fought for the unity of our country. Our men cannot stand it. They said they would have a conversation with the refugees. If that does not help, they will take measures”, Olga Pochtarenko complained in the article by Mariya Vasyl.

The news was further spread by other news portals and social networks. The article received a striking number of views and reposts.

fakty.ua website screenshot
fakty.ua website screenshot

However, all the facts in the news piece turned out to be merely rumors.  None of them was confirmed.

The only real person in the article was Vorzel village council secretary Oleg Atamanchuk, who refuted these rumors when summoned to the prosecutor’s office after the article had been published.  Thus reported Obozrevatel website correspondent Tetiana Zarovnaia after conducting her own investigation.

“Someone intentionally spread these rumors in Vorzel to create tension.  Someone is trying to turn people against each other.  The police are investigating and I asked that the newspaper publish a refutation,” said Atamanchuk.

Vorzel became the object of special attention after publishing an article about separatists driving foreign cars and occupying entire floors of the Pobeda hotel for government money.  Local police counted all the local flags, they all turned out to be in their places.  The head of the settlement council Oleksandr Vengrik was visited by the OSCE mission.

“It is sad when someone turns people against each other,” said Vengrik to Tetiana.  “Who needs it: who needs to promote hate among Ukrainians?  It is now the third wave of provocations: the “torn down” Ukrainian flags from the school, the village council…  I saw the leaflet.  In a trash bin.  A month ago.  It had some stupid poem about the president.”

The drugstore worker who cleans the railway station (the station itself is rather small and the drugstore is the most noticeable building) said people were discussing the leaflets months ago.  However, those did not have the “DPR” acronym. There is only one school here and there are no squares near it. The flag is placed on the second floor level and there is security around the clock there.

The flag above the settlement council, which has been destroyed several times according to the rumours. Photo by Tatiana Zarovnaia
The flag above the settlement council, which has been destroyed several times according to the rumours. Photo by Tatiana Zarovnaia

“Even people from the Ministry of Emergency Situations have visited us; the flag remains in place, take a look,” said school principal Tetiana Volga.  “It would require some effort to get to the second floor and sneak past security.”

“Obozrevatel” journalists have found traces of the “destroyed” flag.  A retiree from Kramatorsk, Mykhaylo Skorobogatov volunteered that a month ago one of the locals or a vacationer had hung the Ukrainian flag on a tree and took it down afterwards.

Recently Ukrainian mass media and social networks have been full of news about conflicts with refugees from the Donbas.  Political expert Stanislav Fedorchuk thinks defamation of refugees is one of the brilliant strategies of causing discord in a time of war.

According to the press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine with reference to the information from the Interagency Coordination HQ, the number of refugees from the Crimea and ATO zone is estimated at over 109 thousand; among them are 36,431 children.  From the Crimea and Sevastopol — almost 17 thousand people, 4 729 children among them; from the ATO area — 92 140 people, 31 702 children among them. Twenty thousand refugees are now living in Kyiv.

Following: Obozrevatel.