The “decree” of the occupation administration representative, the self-proclaimed “DPR” leader Denis Pushylin about the use of the city name “Stalino” in parallel with the name “Donetsk”, raised many questions. The International Center on Countering Russian Propaganda has analyzed the situation.

“The document stipulates that the historical name will become a» symbol of the city «and will be used three times a year: on May 9 (Victory Day), on June 22 (the Great Patriotic War start in the Russian Federation chronology) and on September 8 (the day of Donetsk liberation from Nazi invaders)”, Valentina Bykova, the analyst and media expert of the Center says.

This document is an exact copy of the ORDLO leader Leonid Pasichnyk “decree” from April 17, about the parallel usage two names for Lugansk: the old name “Voroshilovgrad” and “Lugansk”.

Despite this, the very “renaming” of Donetsk caused a powerful information wave in conjunction with the odious figure of Joseph Stalin. After all, the total number of Stalin repression victims is measured in tens of millions of Soviet people. They died in concentration camps or were executed during the “great terror” against their population in the late 1920s and early 1950s.

Besides, the so-called ORDLO “government” began to discuss the setting up or “restoration” of a monument to the “all people father Stalin” in Donetsk park after Tsherbakov.

At the same time, as it has been known the Stalin image would appear on the mosaics in the main Russian Armed Forces Church, which was currently being built in the Patriot Park near Moscow.

“Thus, in the temporarily occupied territories, Russian propagandists like in a laboratory are testing the implementation of the ideological trends, the leading one of which is the need to “return to the USSR”. The target audience of this message is the population of the countries which were former parts of the Soviet Union. It is designed not only for the older generation, which was born and lived for some time during the Soviet era but also for young people. Russian ideologues are trying to prove to its representatives “how stable and great the life was before, in Soviet times, and how bad and changeable everything is now”. The need for a “strong hand” and the revival of the Stalin cult both in Russia and in the occupied territories is related to his message”, Valentina Bykova says.

Typically, such high-profile news events in the occupied territories are used when there is an urgent need to remove “inconvenient content” from the information field. For example, the economic conditions atrophy in the self-proclaimed “LDPR”.

“No money, but you cheer up!”

Previously, self-proclaimed “republics” could exist through the exploitation of enterprises, factories and mines fixed assets, which they “squeezed” from the owners. But six years later, their inertial usage, without major repairs and long-term investments, has become impossible.

Low wages (both in comparison with pre-war times in Donbas and with current salaries in Ukraine and Russia), several months’ arrears in wages, partial payments “just not to die” are the economic realities of the Russian-occupied territories of Ukrainian Donbas.

The thoughts that Russia is squeezing ORDLO like lemon and then throwing it in the trash appear even among those who sincerely believed in 2014 that Russia would provide the residents of the occupied territories with the salaries and pensions on a Russian level. The stagnation of the so-called “LDPR” economy is being confirmed by both the residents’ posts and the official documents of the occupying power.

For example, the information about the deterioration of the situation at Donetsk Railway has appeared on social networks. Residents wrote that 50% of locomotive crews in Yasynuvata work just three days per week, the other 4 days they are on vacation at their own expense.

But even the «lucky ones» who work on the railways receive only a small share of their wages. In particular, ORDLO railway workers were given salaries from 300 to 700 Russian rubles (from $ 4 to $ 9).

The difficulty of the enterprise, which is an important part of the transport infrastructure of the occupied territory, is also evidenced by the cancellation of travel benefits in long-distance and suburban areas, starting from April 22.

Another confirmation of the railway gradual destruction is the liquidation of a large railway transport hub – Mykytivka station (temporarily occupied Donetsk region) together with the related enterprises and departments: Mykytivka station, locomotive depot, maintenance points and recovery train.

The appeal of the Mykytivka station staff, which they ask to distribute, notes that such a decision remains the entire family of railway workers without work, many of whom have minor children, so it concerns hundreds of workers and thousands of their family members. In the address, railwaymen write that “from the road management view the railway will never be revived”. The workers also note that “the administrative authority has been expanded disproportionately during the war, while plenty of ordinary workers have been lost through different reasons”.

The appeal authors also emphasized that railway management has chosen the most difficult period for reduction. “When borders are closed and many businesses are idle or closed. This is sabotage and subversive activity within the republic. Who benefits from this?”, the railwaymen ask a rhetorical question.

The economic situation of ORDLO, the self-proclaimed “LPR”, is not better. There is another “restructuring” case of the coal industry, which has traditionally been a source of income for many residents of Donbas and their families, but now looks like its complete liquidation.

In particular, Order №87 of April 10, 2020, signed by Kozlov, the “Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Luhansk”, states the closure of coal mining enterprises: Anthracite Coal, Branch З2 of CJSC VTS, Uglerustrukturyzatsiya, and others.

Valentyna Bykova summarizes: “The information intrusions we observe in the temporarily occupied territories, particularly, about the “renaming” of Luhansk and Donetsk to Voroshilovgrad and Stalino, as well as the erection of a monument to Stalin, have two purposes. The first is to test the population readiness in the occupied territories (and hence in the Russian Federation) to move slowly but steadily “back to the future”, to the model of the USSR 30-50 years of the last century with the simultaneous Stalin cult formation and strengthening, that will be also extended to the “mighty and invincible” Putin. The second is to try to take control of the information space, where the inhabitants of the occupied territories are increasingly reporting on the real situation, and especially on the destruction of the economy and their welfare decrease”.

Natalia Tolub

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