The situation and sentiments in Dnipropetrovsk in the first week of April
Dnipropetrovsk, 4 – 5 April
Dnipropetrovsk is very different from Donetsk, both in appearance and in popular sentiment. Cars sport Ukrainian and EU flags. In Donetsk this would be hard to imagine, while Dnipropetrovsk is a city which lives under the national colours. The blues and yellows of the Ukrainian flag are everywhere: on balconies, above entrances to shops, on public buildings. Here, unlike in Donetsk, you can hear Ukrainian more often. Most of the signs in the city are also in Ukrainians.
The main square of Dnipropetrovsk used to be dominated by a statue of Lenin. Now only the pedestal remains, with the flag of Ukraine on top, and the photos of the Heaven’s Hundred (the fallen in the fights of Maidan) below. Flowers and burning candles surround the photos. People come to the pedestal, some to lay flowers and burn a candle, others to say a prayer. A sign on the pedestal reads “Protected by the Right Sector.” The absolute majority of people support the idea of peace and quiet in the united and indivisible Ukraine.
Football fans’ attitude
The ever antagonistic fan movements have joined together for the unity of Ukraine. Russian propaganda instils hate, fear, and anger. We are open to dialogue in order to show the absence of differences between Ukrainians and Russians. This is a time for cleansing, and Ukraine must survive it.
Opposite the pedestal, which used to be part of the monument to Lenin, a Maidan-themed exhibition is being held.
The organisers plan to exhibit it in 15 cities and towns in eastern Ukraine. With Dnipropetrovsk the seventh on the list of host cities, the exhibition has already covered about 3,000 kilometers. It is still to be displayed in Kryvy Rih, Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Kyiv. The exhibition has already visited Luhansk, Poltava, Donetsk, Mariupol, and Zaporizhia. It is absolutely vital to show the nascent activity to those Ukrainians who still remain passive, because at present, social activism is not at an exceptionally high level. In Donetsk and Mariupol the organisers and the exhibition itself did not suffer from any displays of aggression, the prevailing sentiment could rather be described as indifference and passiveness. Therefore, this artistic action is an attempt at curing people with “the spirit of freedom,” especially in those regions where criminal “elites” have dominated for decades.
Summary of the social and political situation in Dnipropetrovsk
- The majority of the population displays pro-Ukrainian sentiments. The younger people are enthusiastic supporters of indivisible Ukraine. The prevailing mood is to ease the tension as soon as possible.
- A large proportion of local voters support Petro Poroshenko as the presidential candidate in the upcoming election.
- There is no ill-feeling concerning the ban on Russian television channels.
- The Right Sector remains a popular bogeyman, but it keeps a very low profile in the region, its only visible presence being a few 15-year-olds who guard the pedestal of Lenin’s monument.
- The football fans’ movement is powerful, it is very pro-Ukrainian and will not accept Russia’s aggression.
- Many are afraid of war.
- The attitude towards Maidan is largely positive, with few displays of aversion. If anything does not sit well with the general public, it is the “self-proclaimed incumbent government,” but elections are coming, and people are looking forward to them.
- Food prices are lower than in Donetsk (where they are virtually as high as in Kyiv). Housing prices are comparable with those in Donetsk, which by local standards, are rather high.