Ukraine separatists parade POWs in Donetsk

Photo: @EvgenyFeldman / Twitter | Captured Ukrainian soldiers are paraded by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk.

Captured Ukrainian soldiers were marched through the rebel stronghold of Donetsk by pro-Russian separatists Sunday in a parade meant to counter celebrations of the country’s Independence Day in Kiev.


Some bandaged, some limping, the men were marched up one of Donetsk’s main streets and past the remains of Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers destroyed in battle and put on display in the city’s main Lenin Square.

Hundreds of people lined the street to see the largely dishevelled and unshaven soldiers who walked with their heads bowed and their hands behind their backs, led by an armed woman in camouflage and flanked by men carrying Kalashnikovs.

“We are now able to watch passing people who were sent to kill us,” a voice said over the loudspeaker, mocking the soldiers as “victorious Ukrainians”.

“We are Russians,” the voice boomed to applause.

Steeped in historical significance, the event was meant to recreate the forced march of nearly 60,000 German Nazi soldiers through the streets of Moscow in 1944 towards the end of World War Two.

Some threw bottles while others waved the Russian flag and the red, black and blue standard of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Others shouted “fascists” and “murderers”.

In a theatrical gesture intended to show the captives were sullied, street cleaning vehicles moved behind them spraying water where they had walked, similar to what happened in Moscow in 1944.

Separatist rhetoric and Russian state-owned media coverage of events in eastern Ukraine have evoked memories of World War Two, revered in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.

Ten armoured personnel carriers and military vehicles, some of them still littered with bullets, were displayed on Lenin Square in Donetsk.

Kiev celebrates Independence Day with show of military strength

For days, separatists have prepared for the march, timed to coincide with Independence Day celebrations in Kiev, where armoured vehicles and soldiers, some of them hardened in battle, paraded on the capital’s main square in a show of the military force.


Programme coordinators said the 1,500 service personnel taking part included about 120 men who had already seen action on the eastern front in areas near Donetsk and the rebel’s other eastern stronghold of Luhansk.

Addressing a crowd of more than 20,000 people, many waving the country’s blue and yellow flags or donning traditional embroidered shirts, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed to defeat the rebels and safeguard Ukraine’s border with Russia.

He warned that Ukraine too often in history had been caught by surprise from eastern invasions.

“It is clear that in the foreseeable future there will always, unfortunately, be the threat of war,” Poroshenko said. “And we not only have to learn to live with that. We must always be prepared to defend our independence.”

Poroshenko announced he would raise military spending by 40 billion hryvnia (2.26 billion euros) through 2017, an effective 50 percent increase from current budget targets.

Ukrainian military leaders have pleaded for extra resources as they face a potentially protracted fight against separatists.


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