Friday, October 16, 2015

Birth of a Nation

Published in The Greanville Post. »

Russell’s bike. It helped to make it all possible.
Russell speaks to DPR students, explaining his role in the defence of the new republics.
Mamayev’s complex Pietá. The pain of mothers who lose their sons and daughters in wars is unfathomable. That’s one of the many reasons why “wars of choice” are capital offences, and perpetrators like Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jr., Dick Cheney, Obama, and their many enablers and cabals, should be tried on an international war crimes tribunal.
Lenin is far from forgotten in Russia, and the Federation’s armed forces still proudly display communist flags with Lenin’s face as an emblem. In Western Ukraine and Kiev, however, statues in his honor and communist symbols have been defaced and destroyed.
Russian tanker crews parade in victory celebration over fascism (2013).
The Motherland Calls. (Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd)
“This is Fascism’s first defeat since the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and what we have done here can possibly change the world...”

This is the personal diary of Russell Bonner Bentley — ”Texac” — an American volunteer militiaman currently serving with Novorossiya’s army. Texac is both a frontline fighter and a war correspondent. His dual mission is to help repel the Washington — created, Nazi-infested regime in Kiev, and to introduce Western publics to the truth about the war in the Donbass. The heroic struggle of the young republics in Eastern Ukraine, their unwavering defiance of Western fascism and their high ideals, has reignited hope among many people around the world, hope that imperialism can indeed be pushed back and defeated, and that a new, better world, can at last be constructed. Thus, in the spirit of the International Brigades that fought in Spain in the 1930s, brave volunteers, honorable men, are streaming in from Russia, France, Spain, Chechnya, Serbia, Italy, South America and many other points — even the US — as Texac’s welcome presence indicates. The Donbass is today’s Spain, as is martyred Syria. More may join them before this struggle is over. It is entirely fitting, therefore, to recall La Pasionaria’s tribute to their deeds:

“From all peoples, from all races, you came to us like brothers, like sons of immortal Spain; and in the hardest days of the war, when the capital of the Spanish Republic was threatened, it was you, gallant comrades of the International Brigades, who helped save the city with your fighting enthusiasm, your heroism and your spirit of sacrifice...

For the first time in the history of the peoples’ struggles, there was the spectacle, breathtaking in its grandeur, of the formation of International Brigades to help save a threatened country’s freedom and independence – the freedom and independence of our Spanish land.

Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, Republicans — men of different colors, differing ideology, antagonistic religions — yet all profoundly loving liberty and justice, they came and offered themselves to us unconditionally.

They gave us everything — their youth or their maturity; their science or their experience; their blood and their lives; their hopes and aspirations — and they asked us for nothing. But yes, it must be said, they did want a post in battle, they aspired to the honor of dying for us.

Banners of Spain! Salute these many heroes! Be lowered to honor so many martyrs...!”

— Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria, Farewell Address to the International Brigades, Barcelona, Nov. 1, 1938

When I was in Junior High School in Houston, Texas, back in the 1970’s, our Social Studies class we watched D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. Our teacher went on and on about what a masterpiece it was, but I was not impressed. Forty years later, I am in the Donetsk People’s Republic, watching the birth of a nation, for real, and it is mighty impressive indeed. We have fought the Ukrainian Army to a standstill. Our new Republic is strong – militarily, politically, economically, and philosophically. I have been here for almost a year, fighting as a DPR soldier with the Essence of Time combat unit at the Donetsk Airport and at Spartak, and also an Information Warrior, fighting against the genuinely Fascist regimes in Kiev, Brussels, London, and Washington D.C.

As a soldier on the front lines, the effective range of my AK-74 was about 400 meters, and the range of my RPG, about 900 meters. As an Information Warrior, my words are my bullets, and I can reach around the world. I will be making regular reports about the birth and growth of my new country, and will be doing everything I can to keep it safe and to make sure that it fulfills all the great potential that a brand new nation in the 21st Century implies. I invite you to follow this story, and contribute if you can. This is Fascism’s first defeat since the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and what we have done here can possibly change the world. As the shooting war seems to be winding down, the Information War will be even more important, and the reconstruction and recovery begins. There are many ways to help. Join us. Here’s how I did it...

I came to Donetsk in December of 2014, after following closely the events in Kiev, Odessa and Southeast Ukraine (Donbass). I was outraged by what I saw, and also felt a personal responsibility as a US citizen, because there can be no doubt that the phony Maidan coup would never have happened without US backing and direction. Once my decision to come here was made, I told my friends and family about my plans. Most did not believe I would really do it, but I have been known to do some audacious things in my life, and they should have known better. I sold most of my possessions to finance the trip, including my beloved motorcycle, and gave away the rest. I had a final Thanksgiving dinner with my family and a few close friends, and left Dallas on December 1st, with a one way ticket to Rostov on Don. It was like diving off a seaside cliff with my eyes closed.

The movie “Stalingrad” was playing on the plane as we flew across the Atlantic, and I found it quite inspiring. I landed at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after midnight. As the saying goes, “I spent a week in Moscow one night”. After passing through customs and airport security, I went to the only kiosk open and asked for a cup of coffee in my very limited Russian. I then reached in my back pocket for my money, and it was not there. Neither was my passport. Take a moment to reflect on what that might feel like. In a foreign country with a different language, halfway around the world, no money, no passport. I had determined to come to Donbass to be a soldier, fight Fascism and try to change the world. When my family suggested I might be biting off more than I could chew, I told them I was smart and tough enough to do it. I had been on foreign soil for less than an hour, and it seemed I was already totally screwed. Naturally, I sat down and had a good laugh.

I took a few moments to gather my thoughts. The last place I had my passport was at airport security, so it must be there. So, dragging my huge duffle bag and two other suitcases, I made my way back to the checkpoint, thinking if I had left my money there, about ($3,000) the cops would have to have a lot of integrity to give it back. I knew the Russian word for money, “dinghe”, and feeling like a fool walked up to these cops and asked. They said “nyet”. Now, I was actually starting to get a little nervous. I started patting down all my pockets, and lo and behold, in the side pocket of my cargo pants, was my passport and all my money. I dragged my baggage back to the lobby of the airport, sat down and had another good laugh. I went back to the coffee kiosk and triumphantly ordered another cup of coffee. Anticipating what I thought would be the most enjoyable and memorable cup of coffee in my life, The barista set the coffee on the counter, and I handed her a five dollar bill. She shook her head and said “Rubles”. Of which, of course I had none. So, after getting a drink of Moscow tapwater from the bathroom sink, I sat down to ponder my future and await the opening of the money exchange and my flight to Rostov. It was a long night, indeed.

The next morning, after exchanging a thousand dollars for Rubles, I finally got that cup of coffee and caught the plane to Rostov. We landed in a blizzard, and the Rostov airport looked like a Mexican airport from the 1960’s. So, I wasn’t just in Russia, I was in the Russian boondocks, and going even further into the wild, wild East, to be on the small side of a big war, on the Russian steppes, in Winter, at the age of 54. But I was game, and moved ahead. I made my way to the guesthouse where I had reserved a room online before I left Texas. After communication via google translate with my host, I made my way to a nearby store, bought a bottle of vodka and a microwave pizza, and went back and had myself some rest. The next day, I got up and took a stroll around town, managed to buy myself a cheap cellphone (US phones operate on different frequencies than Russian ones, so do not work in Russia) and read my first Russian word in Russia – “Банк”, “Bank”. Not too big of a stretch, obviously, but I felt like a real genius.

Back around the time I was watching Griffith’s “masterpiece” in Miss Thompson’s Social Studies class, I saw a photograph of the monument to the heroes of Stalingrad at MAMAYEV KURGAN. It was beautiful and inspiring, and I had always wanted to see it ever since, but never expected to, never imagined that it would ever be even remotely possible. But when I made my decision to come to Donetsk via Rostov, and saw that Volgograd and Mamayev Kurgan were only about 500 Km away, I decided to make a side trip before crossing the border into the DPR. So, after a couple of days in Rostov, I caught a bus to Volgograd, to Stalingrad. As we drove across the vast and empty Russian Steppes, (through another blizzard, of course) at one point the bus engine stalled. It took about 15 minutes to get going, and during that time I realized that as lightly dressed as I was, if the engine did not start, I would probably freeze to death before help arrived. The chill I felt was not entirely due to the sub-zero temperatures. Thanks to good luck and Russian ingenuity, we made it.

I got a room in an upscale but very reasonably priced hotel, and checked the map to see how to get to the monument I had wanted to see for over 40 years. I got up at 4AM and decided I would walk the 10 KM from my hotel to the monument. It was still dark when I started out, but I knew the direction, and had the mighty Volga river to guide me. On the way, I passed a great statue of Lenin and the famous sculpture of the children dancing around the chained crocodile.

I arrived at Mamayev Kurgan a little after dawn, and was the only person there. It was just me and the ghosts of a million heroes, and I must admit, the experience moved me to tears. I spent several hours there, and truly felt as if the spirits of those million heroes knew I was there, and appreciated my coming to pay my respects. Later, I caught the trolley back to the hotel, and spent the evening in the hotel bar, trying to seduce the beautiful bartender, Sveta, to no avail. The next morning, with a bit of a hangover, I made the trip back to Rostov with a Guardian Angel on my shoulder. Though I did not “get lucky” with Sveta that night, I have been very, very lucky many times since.

Back in Rostov, I made a trip to the Army Surplus store where I bought 3 sets of camouflage; green, white and brown. Two days later, I again rose before dawn, this time to catch the bus to Donetsk. As I stood on the platform, smoking a cigarette, two Russian policemen approached me and pointed to the No Smoking sign right behind me. They asked in rudimentary English where I was going and for my passport. Reading my name, one smiled and said, “Ah, Russell, like Russell Crowe”. I smiled and said, “Da, ya gladiator”. Though it is only about 200 Km from Rostov to Donetsk, the trip took most of the day. When we arrived at the border crossing, everyone was instructed to exit the bus and bring all their baggage in to the Customs station to be checked. The Russian official asked the purpose of my trip to Donetsk and I replied “To visit friends”. In reply to his question about my camouflage uniforms, it took me a few minutes to find the words “Christmas presents” in my Russian phrase book. He smiled and let me pass. On the DPR side of the border, the Customs shed had bullet and shrapnel holes from recent battles, and as we waited for our passports to be checked, I realized I was now in a different world. A very different world.

The trip from the border was uneventful, but along the way, we passed several bombed out and deserted villages, as well as deserted blockposts and trenches. After passing through the military checkpoint at the Donetsk city limits, the bus made a stop so people could exchange rubles for grivnas with a guy standing on the street who had a briefcase full of money and two friends with Kalashnikovs. No banks in the DPR, but essential services like money exchange are still provided one way or another. As the sun was setting, we arrived at the bus station. Less than 5 minutes after I got off the bus, I heard artillery firing and impacting just a few kilometers away. It was heavy artillery, and plenty of it, but everyone at the bus station just went about their business as normal, so I did the same. I caught a cab at only double the normal rate, to the Red Cat hostel, where I met for the first time Christian Malaparte, a writer who had been living and working in Donetsk since May. We had corresponded on Facebook prior to my arrival, and I was very, very glad to meet someone who spoke English and some Russian, and was willing to help. So, that’s how I got to Donetsk, and getting here was the easy part.