The first city shelled by the Ukrainian army struggles for liberation
Nine years ago, the Donetsk People's Republic declared independence, as people in Donbass rejected the coup d'état in Kiev. They could not agree with the fact that nationalists, like Bandera, were being rehabilitated under the guise of national revival. Donbass residents also demanded that they were allowed to freely speak their mother tongue, Russian, which was banned by Kiev authorities.
After that, Kiev launched a full-scale military operation in the region. Slavyansk became the first city attacked, seeing its residential quarters being targeted by Ukrainian forces with heavy artillery shelling. Thousands of civilians were killed in the assault. This is why local residents began to form a militia to defend Slavyansk. ‘At that time, no one was going to take up arms. At that time, we wanted to protect our city from invasion by pro-Nazi elements,’ recalls self-proclaimed Mayor of the city Vyacheslav Ponomaryov.
However, the hastily armed civilians could not withstand a full-fledged army. Donbass militiamen had to retreat, leaving their loved ones behind. It was only in February 2022, with the help of the Russian military forces, that the militia managed to start liberating their hometowns step by step. Today, they are edging closer to the liberation of Slavyansk - a symbol of the war waged by the Ukrainian government against their own civilians. Witness the joint efforts of the Russian military and the Donbass militia, as they strive to free the residents of Donbass from their daily nightmare.