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The Shelling of the Sokol Market in Donetsk

Another day in the horrific reality of the besieged people of Donbas.

Apr 28, 2022


DONETSK, DONETSK PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC— It took less than one day in DPR for this author to witness Ukraine purposely shelling civilians.

This afternoon, fellow journalist Eva Bartlett and I visited the Sokol Market, in the Kirovsky District, a western residential district of Donetsk.

Earlier in the day, at 11:40am, among the busiest hours, Ukrainian forces, just miles away in Krasnogor, fired 10 Grad rockets at the market. Initial reported were two dead, since updated to five: a woman who worked at the market in her 50’s, and a man in his 60’s, a local teacher, who was buying supplies for his mechanics class. At least 23 more were injured, including a woman who was already a refugee from Mariupol, employed at a market grocery stand, and two teenagers. Our taxi driver, who drove us to the market, waited for us, and drove us back into town, was from the Kirovsky district; he told us that the old man who died had been his teacher in high school.

One shell hit this storefront in the building supply area of the market

There is no military presence in this neighborhood whatsoever, no base, no embedded soldiers, nothing. Gennady Andreevich, an employee of the neighborhood safety commission, called it a very "sleepy" district, where there is only this market, a strip of shops, a park, and a number of Soviet-era residential buildings. The area has seen sustained, constant strikes since 2014, sometimes nearly every month. One of the residential buildings was hit as recently as two weeks ago. These sorts of markets are the central point of social gathering, commerce, and employment for the vast majority of working people in Russian culture, who cannot afford to frolic in more luxurious, capitalist-developed urban centers. The perpetrators of these atrocities understand implicitly that the eyes of bourgeois mass media are never fixed on the poor, and as such, they are regularly targeted.

This woman died in the shelling; authorities had to tend to the wounded first, and she remained on the market row when we arrived

The sounds of Russian/DPR artillery, responding to the attacks by shelling the Ukrainian military installations, was constantly audible in the background of our time there today.

Unfortunately, what we witnessed today has become business as usual for the citizens of Donetsk and beyond. This is just one small example of what these people face, day in and day out. “There is absolutely no military reason to strike places like this. They do this to strike fear in our hearts,” said Gennady Andreevich, “ but it does not work.” Indeed, in spite of 8 years of attacks, and now endless constraints from isolation and sanctions, including a limit on running water to a few hours in the evening, this city of over a million continues to move on with life; shops remain open, public transport runs, and the populace is united in its will to resist its attackers.

This was the site of the largest shell, which injured a number of people. Their blood is seen here, with a DPR soldier onlooking. A fragment of the shell is in the nearest box.

The western erasure of the massacre of the people in Donbas, at the hands of Ukrainian fascists, is an absolute disgrace. Of course, we would expect this from the heavily propagandized majority of the western populace, who are nursed and indoctrinated by reactionary corporate media, but the silence and lack of clarity on the part of the western “left" is stunning. Donbas’s civilian population has been relentlessly assaulted by fascist proxies of the United States and NATO for nearly a decade; but yet, the implicit Russophobia of a “left” so deeply damaged by decades of anti-communist social engineering leaves them confused, unable to see that the people of Donetsk, Lugansk, and truly, all Russians in Ukraine, are the bearers of a torch of righteous people’s resistance.

Gennady Andreevich toured us through the carnage, showed us the calm of the surrounding environs, and pointed to a number of places nearby which had been shelled in the months and years prior, including his own administrative office this past March. Two of his co-workers were killed in that attack. At one point in our exchange today, he looked at me sternly and said, "sooner or later, God will sort them out, the people who are doing this."

A local high school mechanics teacher also died in the shelling

Let it be so, and may those who claim the banner of anti-Imperialism shake the dust from their eyes, and recognize that the arms our tax dollars send to Ukraine, the fruits of political confusion and ambivalence, have been, and will continue to be unleashed on people who only want to exist in their own land. Let them see that the struggle of Donbas is a pivotal piece of the global struggle against the most vicious empire in human history, that of the United States war machine, and all of its tentacles and allies.

Eva Bartlett, who worked with me today, is a renowned anti-imperialist journalist, known for her work in Syria and Gaza. She is now an Op-Ed contributor for RT. Links to her work can be found on her Twitter: @EvaKBartlett

You can find video of the interview today on my Vimeo here:


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