From Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 14, 2022, p. 1. Condensed text:

. . . On June 13, Donetsk, the capital of the Donetsk people’s republic (DPR) was subjected to powerful artillery strikes, resulting in fires at residential buildings and infrastructure facilities. Many civilians were wounded, with some killed.

Shelling has intensified over the past few days; Russian state propaganda explains that this is a consequence of foreign weapons being supplied to Ukraine.

In Berdyansk, Zaporozhye [Province], the authorities were forced to deal with energy supply problems during the [Russia Day] holiday after an obvious terrorist attack – the explosion of an electrical substation – which at first they hastened to call an accident. However, the “harmless popping” story was immediately and clearly refuted by both powerful explosions and large columns of smoke in the sky over the city. It seems that there were no casualties.

But in Melitopol, another city in Zaporozhye and the [self-proclaimed] temporary capital of [the occupied part of] the province, people were hospitalized as a result of a garbage can exploding near the building of the pro-Russian police department. “All employees and military personnel are alive,” Aleksei Selivanov, a deputy head of the [self-proclaimed] Zaporozhye Province internal affairs ministry, wrote on his Telegram channel. It should be noted that everything is clear about [Selivanov’s] position, except for what state this internal affairs ministry belongs to, but Selivanov directly commented that the terrorist attack was “committed by Ukrainians.”

Apparently, one of the main tasks of the pro-Russian activists in general was to set local residents and their authorities against the rest of Ukraine, which, they say, no longer considers them its own. That is, the process of secession is being persistently hammered out in the media, and in this case, of course, the trail of pro-Kremlin PR specialists is quite clearly visible. For example, Vladimir Rogov, another figure with a beautiful-sounding title “member of the [self-proclaimed] Zaporozhye Province Main Council of Military and Civil Administration,” has expressed the following talking points in the media: Ukraine has stopped pounding the province with missiles, but now it is intimidating its residents with terrorist attacks. Another sample comment from him: “Terrorists are acting against us, there is no doubt about it, and this further unites people in the rightness of choosing the path to Russia. Because the [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky regime, and the Ukrainian regime overall, is a strictly terrorist regime; it is a classic Ukrainian state, a Banderovite1 gangster underground, which can only fight against peaceful people.”

Thus the narrative is as follows: Military actions on the part of Kiev are nothing but useless attempts to stop the referendums on joining Russia, as they will supposedly have the opposite effect. This may be partially true. It will obviously be the case for the residents of the DPR and LPR (Lugansk people’s republic) in many respects; the situation looks more difficult in Zaporozhye or, say, Kherson Province, part of which still remains a combat zone and the location of the Ukrainian Army’s supposed offensive. . . .

Earlier bold statements, including those from local activists about referendums in early autumn, are no longer relevant. Let’s say Kherson and Zaporozhye Provinces do not declare themselves people’s republics; that would mean that, unlike the DPR and LPR, they cannot even hold a quasi-legitimate vote. Apparently, the local ruling cliques that have agreed to cooperate with Russia are not ready to burn bridges with Ukraine, realizing that they may have to return there with a guilty conscience and considerable amends to make. And the Kremlin probably has not been able to convince them yet: Over the past eight years, the Donetsk Basin has demonstrated all too clearly how reliable [the Kremlin’s] assurances are.

Thus, combat PR activities by the Ukrainian Army and special services should currently be recognized as relatively successful. An equally rapid analysis of the political process in eastern Ukraine shows that, apparently, the referendums will be divided into two or even three groups. The LPR may go first – maybe in September. The DPR might also manage a referendum within this period, if, of course, there is some convincing victory there – if the Ukrainians retreat from Donetsk, for example, although this is not yet expected. Zaporozhye and Kherson Provinces do not seem like they’ll catch up by this fall.

1[Reference to Stepan Bandera, 1908-1959, a Ukrainian revolutionary and nationalist leader, who fought for the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. – Trans.]