On June 15, Russian and separatist mass media reported on a spontaneous protest that took place in Donetsk. City inhabitants were demanding that the Ukrainian military stop shelling the city. But this was one of several protester demands, and the majority of Russian media omitted reporting the rest.
As reported, the people asked the local, self-proclaimed authorities to resettle them away from the Oktiabrskiy area, near the Donetsk airport, which has been constantly under fire.
The head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Oleksandr Zakharchenko, met with the protesters and “gave a task to the government to resettle the inhabitants of the near-front zone to the quieter areas of Donetsk,” as reported by the Russian TV channel NTV.
Russia’s TV channel Zvezda reported that the Donetsk authorities promised to do everything possible to “terminate the shelling of Donetsk and its outskirts by the Ukrainian army.”
“A lot of people who gathered there lost their apartments because of the shelling, and they ask the authorities of the so-called People’s Republic to grant them new homes. But the main demand of the protesters is the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops as soon as possible,” Lifenews reported.
The media outlets mentioned above failed to report on other protester demands, but these demands can be identified from other sources.
For example, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta reported that the demonstrators demanded that DPR militants stop firing at the Ukrainian army from the Oktiabrskiy district, because it perpetuates Ukrainian counter fire and the death and injury of more civilians. The reporter from newspaper, who was at the scene, called it the first antiwar demonstration in the so-called DPR.
The protesters also complained about the indifference of the so-called “DPR” authorities towards the inhabitants of the areas under shelling. One of the protesters says this on video, and complains that no officials reach out to the people in the area. Then the man addresses both Ukrainian and Russian authorities, demanding that they stop the war.
The Russian news agency Regnum quotes a women participating in the demonstration: “We are fed up with the promises of the so-called DPR that we will be resettled to safe places. My family and I have been living with our friends in Donetsk since last year. Since as far back as the beginning of the year, the authorities promised to settle us in a health resort, but did nothing. Who is going to rebuild our damaged apartments? Besides, armed men did not let us into our houses. They say that they are battle positions of the militia in the Oktiabrskiy village.”
You can also hear on one video a woman telling a representative of the so-called DPR government that she wants to live and to work, and asks them to leave them in peace.
A journalist from Donetsk, Kateryna Malafeyeva, who was at the protest, reported that people had “had enough”: “Most likely, it was a protest of despair. The people are tired of the war and want all of this to end.”
Journalist Andriy Borodulin wrote on Twitter: “There is no leader, no common demand. Some demand that war machinery be taken from residential areas, others – to attack the Ukrainian Army.”
Protesters were in fact demanding that the Ukrainian army stop firing upon them and their neighborhood. But the omissions by many major Russian news sources badly distorted the aim and nature of the protest.