Tension Remain High In Ukraine

Apr 22, 2014

In Kiev today, Vice President Joe Biden said Russia must stop talking and start acting to defuse the crisis in Crimea.

The vice president’s visit comes as three men killed in an attack on a pro-Russian camp on Sunday were buried.

The BBC’s Natalia Antelava is visiting the town of Lugansk, a pro-Russian stronghold, and reports on the debate between those loyal to Kiev and those loyal to Moscow.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


This is HERE AND NOW from NPR and WBUR Boston. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

As Vice President Biden continues his visit to Ukraine, the tension continues in the eastern part of the country where pro-Russian militants have taken over buildings and refuse to give them up. The BBC's Natalia Antelava reports from Lugansk, one of the strongholds of the pro-Russian movement.

NATALIA ANTELAVA: That's the Lugansk protest camp ahead of us. So we're going to see what the mood is like. This feels like a proper tent city, a lot bigger than the one in Donetsk. We now have a guide, so we're going to get - be taken around.

(Foreign language spoken)

ALEC: Alec(ph).

ANTELAVA: Alec. Alec. So this is Alec, our guide. He's going to take us around.

ALEC: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTELAVA: He says we're well-armed. The armed forces are inside.

(Foreign language spoken)

ALEC: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTELAVA: Of course, we wouldn't give up the weapons. Alec was just saying that he'll get at least 10 years in prison if he changes his mind now because they've now been called separatists and terrorists. So I asked about the amnesty that the Ukrainian side has signed up to in Geneva. He just doesn't believe it. He says they are promises. Why should we trust them?

ALEC: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTELAVA: So it really doesn't look like Geneva has had any effect on Lugansk because Alec is saying that they are preparing for the referendum, which will ask people here whether they want to have a greater autonomy or join Russia. And they're still planning to have it on May 11.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTELAVA: I was just eavesdropping on this lady's telephone conversation, and she says well it's not going to be any better in Russia for us, is it? We need a greater autonomy. We don't need to be part of Russia. So opinion even here at the square, opinion is divided.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Through translator) Do we look like terrorists to you? Have you watched Ukrainian TV? Have you seen what they say about us? We are the terrorists?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Through translator) If we need to, we'll turn into them because my homeland is right here. I used to think the whole Ukraine is my homeland, but I was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (Through translator) Russia knows if we don't defend Ukraine here, they're going to get their own revolution in Moscow. That's why they will help us.

ANTELAVA: (Foreign language spoken)

I'm asking what's the solution to all of this because - to all this - to this deadlock.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTELAVA: I'm a Ukrainian, I'm a Russian, I'm a Slav. I'm not a European. My soul isn't European. Let us go home, he says. The really incredible thing is that everyone I've ever spoken to in Kiev thinks that everybody here is completely brainwashed. Everyone I'm speaking to here thinks everybody in Kiev is totally brainwashed.

HOBSON: That's the BBC Natalia Antelava reporting from Ukraine.


And we have a little bit of business to take care of here, Jeremy. Yesterday, as you well know, I spoke of President Obama going to Michigan to visit Macomb Community College.

HOBSON: Ah. Not Macomb, though.

YOUNG: Macomb. Many of you wrote to say Macomb. That's so Georgia. Or as Randy wrote, it's pronounced Macomb as in the president is coming to visit. Where's Macomb?


YOUNG: And listener Mike added: As with Macomb, Illinois, Macomb County, Michigan was named after General Alexander Macomb, commanding general of the United States Army, Detroit native and victor of the Battle of Plattsburgh, New York during the War of 1812. So we learn something every day from you, and every day we expect you to keep us on our toes. Let us know if we've done something either misspoken or mispronounced.

HOBSON: Or you can say nice things too. You could write us in if you like something that you hear.

YOUNG: Yeah. Let us know at hereandnow.org. You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.