Recently, there was a premiere of the film by Sergei Loznitsa “Donbass”. An incident has occurred during it. One of the spectators in the hall took the floor upon the end of the screening. “After this film, when we migrants, will come to social institutions, they will tell us: ‘It’s because of you the war had begun! They’ve shown us what vermins you are. It’s all because of you.’ I’m speechless, I have a lump in my throat,” said Anna Kurtsanovska. I propose not to talk about Ukrainian cinema, but to talk about Ukrainian citizens.

Imagine for a moment that you are facing a choice: whether to abandon all Ukrainian from now on or to quickly pack up some suitcase and leave the house and everything that is in the house, pop into the bus and go away to the obscurity. Or even worse You’ve chosen the second option, but you can’t go because your elderly mother is ill because there is no money even to pay for the bus, because, because. Thus, from the dry and insignificant term, “internally displaced persons” we have a tragic fate of real people.

I have wonderful colleagues from Donetsk and Luhansk, they are teaching at the Department of Ukrainian Philology, renting apartments. They’ve left all their previous life and families’ history in their small Motherland. I’ve never heard from them any complaints about domestic discrimination, they’ve joined the team quite easily and fast. However, once in 2014 I had a casual conversation with one realtor from Odesa. Back then all these events just had started. She confidentially told me: “We have an informal arrangement: not to rent the apartments for settlers”. To my surprise and horror, she replied that there may be a lot of troubles with them, that they often have problems with money, so how can you get your rent from them.

We all repeat that Donbas is Ukraine, that Crimea is Ukraine, that they’re occupied, but we add obligatory adverb “temporarily”, we believe in it. We want to believe. You know, it’s easy to talk about metonymy, but it’s harder to talk about certain people. We sympathize with the abstractly generalized Donbas and Crimea, while cynically debating on what to do with people when we regain those territories.

Our radars are damaged. Recognition function “Friends or Foe” has been damaged. Our guys get under our own shells.

The Ukrainian segment of Facebook is rich in discussions around the “Donbass” and “The code name ‘Banderas’”. Users note that this kind of bringing up the sore subjects in Ukrainian cinematography is very timely. We have to talk about it. The question is, by what means? If “The code name ‘Banderas’” is perceived mainly as a gripping detective about the war, breathtaking and pleasant, with a wonderful protagonist, then “Donbass” is without protagonist or heroes, it’s without a clear storyline. This is written by spectators after they leave cinemas. From Internet discussions, one can notice the correlation between the geography of Ukraine and the reactions to the issue.

Among the natives of Donbas, I observe two polar reactions. The first one – not all of us are the same as this image. We are patriots of Ukraine, and such black generalizations hurt us. The reaction of “everyone from Donbass” is not only predictable, but it’s also programmed by the film, they write in the comments.

The radically opposite view is – right! Everything is correct! because of people like these, we’ve lost our homes, our usual life and peace in the country. “What can you recommend to radical residents of Donbas? Your life and loved ones was hanging by a thread, and you want to understand these animals?”- on the other pole of the comments section. In both cases, there is a rejection, that is, complete non-identification with the underlined social group. The first ones deny the others are angry.

Western regions of Ukraine, which never had pro-Russian sentiments, are almost unanimous regarding the problem. Do Donetsk and Luhansk citizens are perceived as full-fledged citizens of Ukraine? Especially those who remained in the occupied territory. Probably they are no longer them.

South and East of Ukraine are territorially closer to the place of events. Although they’ve avoided the fate of Donbas back in time, they still have no guarantees of a peaceful life. They are more pluralistic in their assessments.

You see, in fact, I’m doing the same thing for which I condemn my opponents. I conditionally divide Ukraine on criteria of how do they treat this problem. Moreover, I do it on the basis of empiricism. And we need to do the opposite – we need to unite.

With Crimea, things are going worse than with Donbas. We do not know, whether to sympathize them or to condemn. We don’t believe in the legitimacy of the so-called Crimean referendum. At the same time, we’re gloating over the reports on deterioration in standards of living in the occupied Crimea: “You deserve it, it’s you who’ve chosen it.” Have they chosen it or not?

I think psychologists could tell us about protection mechanisms here. Fear, according to Aristotle, is the basic emotion of a person. You may call it self-preservation instinct. The hour in which fear and anxiety about basic human needs for safety, has turned into a tangible radioactive background of life, we try to get rid of everything that might be reminiscent of a threat.

Humanity becomes the biggest deficit in hybrid wars, aggression, and annexation. If the biblical “love your enemies” at this time seems almost impossible, then we are obliged to love those who near.

For the sake of Ukraine’s future.

Tetyana Monakhova

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