A Ukrainian soldier, with armoured personnel carriers
behind him, points his weapon at an approaching car at a
checkpoint near the town of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine.
Photo by Reuters
A Dunedin businessman says he is having trouble
reconciling media reports on the conflict in the Ukraine with
what he has seen on a recent holiday, and believes all is not
what it seems.
Paul Facoory has just returned from a three-week holiday in
the northeastern city of Kharkov, the second-largest city in
Speaking to various people in and around the city, and
witnessing some of the political demonstrations first hand,
he believed a lot of television coverage was ''slanted''.
''It really ignores what the people think and what the people
''The West has painted this as Russian aggression and Russian
intentions to expand into the Ukraine. That would be nothing
further from the truth.''
Mr Facoory said he saw several large demonstrations in
Kharkov, in which about 30,000 people of all ages marched
down the street.
''That night I saw, on television, the ambassador to the
United Nations speaking about one of the marches, saying it
was a sophisticated Russian military operation.
''But when it comes to Ukraine, I saw nothing of that.
''I was absolutely aghast. The misinformation that is coming
''I believe it is part of a geo-political theme that the
Americans have got with Russia at the moment, because they
don't like Putin.
''They seem to be wanting to demonise him.''
He believed media coverage was aggravating tensions within
the Ukraine, and the fighting was ripping communities apart.
''It has put long-time friends on opposite sides of the
fence. It has created a rift in friendships.
''What we saw in Kiev just after Christmas was genuinely
people that want change. They want a better lot. Ukrainian
people are not well-endowed.
''They're struggling, they're making ends meet, but they want
a brighter future - particularly the young people.
''But of course you've also got groups like the nationalists
who have been a minority and are always going to be a
minority - they are seizing this opportunity to get what they
''And the unfortunate thing is, they feel as if [former
Ukrainian president] Viktor Yanukovych has let them down, but
they also feel it was a democratically elected government
which was overthrown by street parties.
''They already feel that their lot is going to get worse with
the new regime that has come in, so they are now taking the
opportunity to express their desire to be more autonomous.''
Despite the conflict, Mr Facoory said he never felt unsafe in
''It was peaceful. There was a huge number of police on the
''We were sitting in a cafe having a nice cup of coffee, and
three blocks away there was a demonstration with thousands of
people going on.
''It was really quite surreal.''