Long Way From Maidan: A Report from Donetsk

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 27 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview here (soundcloud available soon).

“There’s a lot of real old-fashioned class antagonism at the heart of this. When, on top of that class antagonism, you add an actual war with shooting, it becomes really ugly.”

Chuck Mertz: Our guest, live from New York City, is Keith Gessen, founding editor of n+1 magazine. Keith is co-editor of the new collection celebrating ten years of the cultural literary magazine n+1, Happiness: Ten Years of n+1. Keith also wrote the piece Why Not Kill Them All?” on Ukraine for the London Review of Books. Good morning, Keith.

KG: Good morning.

CM: You start your story about a Mikhail Mishin, who grew up in a large town next to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, for several years playing football, rising to the Ukrainian second league. Eventually, as you write, “his father helped him find work in the sports section of city government, where he lobbied for money for sports facilities and attended their opening ceremonies, where he always gave a short speech about the moral and physical benefits of sport. No scholar of languages, he was never able to master Ukrainian fully, which perhaps would have kept him from climbing higher in politics if things hadn’t taken a strange turn for him in the Donbas region earlier this year.”

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