by Lewis Burns
Pavel Kuljuk often tends to his garden to take a break from work. “It’s great to be a peasant when you work as a journalist”, he tells the Strathclyde Telegraph. “In general, physical work in the garden is a good rest from work as a journalist, people and politics. A change of activity is the best form of relaxation.”
Pavel’s job has become more difficult than most. Working as a freelance journalist from his home in Donetsk, Ukraine, he has written for publications in the U.S., Germany, and Australia, with the hopes of joining the higher paying labour markets of the West.
“For me, journalism is a way of virtual travel. This allows you to get into character and love what you do. This gives you the opportunity to explore other countries and people. Money is second place in importance. Journalism allows me to travel making money while others spend money while travelling.”
“Having come to the most paid labour market, I want to become a part of it. To do this, you need to write about the countries that are included in this labour market. That is, it is necessary to write about the United States for US citizens. It is necessary to write about the UK for British citizens and so on…I read the newspapers of New York every day. It’s not easy. Since everyone is just talking about the shelling. But I force myself to read the New York papers. I know New York better than Kramatorsk where I live. Sooner or later I will be able to write to New Yorkers about New York.”
But when Russia invaded Ukraine back in February, Pavel’s life was completely transformed. For their podcast, Rough Translation, NPR covered his column for the local New York state newspaper, The Red Hook Daily Catch, where he provides readers detailed stories on how his life has been disrupted since Russia’s invasion of his country.
In one article for The Red Hook Daily Catch, he reveals the accommodations he was forced to make when his home’s gas and electricity supplies were suddenly cut, and the worry that comes from considering a life without basic necessities. Things have improved since then, Pavel says, but he still has contingencies.
“The situation began to improve. The authorities promise to connect gas to private homes. This will allow us to heat the house and heat the water with a geyser. If the electricity is cut off, then my wife will not survive such a life. I will send her and her parents to Western Ukraine or somewhere else. And I will stay to protect the property… War poses a threat to a comfortable life. War destroys infrastructure. Ukrainian and Russian authorities in the rear support a comfortable life. Since both authorities need the loyalty of the population. That is, if Putin comes, we will also have gas. If Putin is driven out, we will also have gas. But it will be bad if Putin or Zelensky will stand next to the city. Fighting makes it impossible to supply gas and electricity.”
Just prior to Pavel’s initial email to the Strathclyde Telegraph, Russia had announced the annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts, including Donetsk, where Pavel’s city of Kramatorsk is based. This annexation means Russia now claims these areas as their own territory, and any defensive measure taken in this area will be considered by Russia as a direct attack against itself.
“For the majority of the population, Russians do not pose a threat. Russians and Ukrainians lived in the same state for 400 years… For some categories of people, Russians can pose a threat. For example, for me. I’m working with the Americans. And these are political opponents. But for my wife and my wife’s parents, Russians are safe. So I’m willing to take the risk and try to stay if the Russians come… The threat is the fighting in the city. Then you can die from both Ukrainian and Russian shells. Death doesn’t care whose bullet it is. This is what makes it clear how stupid war is.”
The annexation has many world leaders fearing escalation. Last week, during a private fundraising event in New York, U.S. President Joe Biden said the world is the closest it has been to “Armageddon” since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. These warnings however, haven’t affected Pavel.
“I won’t react at all. Because I have an understanding of what war really is… And Biden’s statement is just an attempt to draw my attention to the war… Should I be worried about nuclear weapons if I know how politics has reacted to their use in the past. My desire to do nothing is not unique. Hundreds of millions of Japanese had done the same. I decided in advance to clearly define for myself what war is and my place in this war. My understanding of war gives me confidence.”
After several months of fearing bombardment and being stripped of basic resources, Pavel no longer has any real side in this war. He simply wants it over. When asked what we should understand about living in this conflict, Pavel goes in depth into the ‘business model’ he sees this war as.
“There is a business project, the implementation of which involves the use of a large number of weapons, the killing of a large number of people, the destruction of a large amount of property, as well as the transfer of territories and populations to another jurisdiction. That is what war is. War is the most terrible type of business projects mastered by mankind.”
“Wars happen because people don’t understand what war is. The position of the most massive group of participants “Workers” is so terrible that it is necessary to create a virtual reality for these people to participate in the project. Only by placing “Workers” in virtual reality can war be carried out.”
“The war in Ukraine should be the last in the history of mankind. No more vile war-business projects.”