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Denis Pushilin comments on progress of Minsk agreements point by point

Out of 13 of the Package of Measures’ paragraphs was only implemented, said the permanent plenipotentiary representative of the DPR in the trilateral contact group at negotiations in Minsk Denis Pushilin on radio “Comet”.

Replying to a question of radio broadcasters “Why shelling still occur and our civilians are being killed?”, the DPR plenipotentiary representative revealed nuances of the negotiation process in Minsk and described the reasons for his slip.

Paragraph 1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire…

– As we know, this item is still not completed, and military reports very clearly illustrate all this. Why is this happening? After all, we have had periods of ceasefire. Contact group has negotiated this issue or it was dedicated to some events. But when we’re under the shelling, we also respond. Here everything is absolutely simple: a political decision is necessary here, specific orders should be given – and then no one will shoot. Now, we know, our offices have such order. They open fire only when there is already a clear threat to their life, when firepower is carried against them. That is, they are forced to destroy one or another firing point – otherwise there is a possibility of a breakthrough, as we saw recently at Debaltsevo.

Naturally, the Ukrainian side regularly announces that it is we bomb ourselves, as though it may sound cynical, but somewhere even just mocking. And in Minsk the tune is the same: “You shoot yourselves to blame poor, miserable Ukraine.” It sounds up to this day.

Paragraph 2. Withdrawal of heavy weapons by both parties in equal distances in order to create a security zone…

– We have withdrawn the weapons even unilaterally. We started it, we initiated this – and the weapon was taken! But have the Ukrainian side done it? This is clearly illustrated by military reports…

122mm and the more than 152 mm artillery should not be at that distance from which it can reach us. Nevertheless, we see that these weapons were not withdrawn. In addition, our intelligence reports about serious accumulation of artillery, and we should pay attention to this. If such thing continues, full-fledged fighting can start at any moment. Because we can’t but respond, and we cannot allow penetration into our territory –  too… What this will lead in the end to? To a large number of victims. We try to avoid it and convert everything into the political direction.

Paragraph 3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the OSCE…

– Unfortunately, this paragraph is not fully executed as well, because Ukraine does not always permit the OSCE. We have certain places for the withdrawn artillery, and the OSCE regularly monitors them, and check numbers so that everything corresponds. What does Ukraine do? They conduct allegedly rotation, and in that place there occurs artillery with different numbers. Where have gone the one with old numbers is unclear. We know that it is drawn in to the contact line. Ukraine denies that: as if units are rotated, and they take away weapons with them. But this is a lie! Then how do they bombard us? Everything is obvious, everything is clear: Ukraine is trying to manipulate here. Thus, it is impossible to fully execute the third paragraph too.

Moreover, it is not beneficial for Ukraine the OSCE SMM to stay here. In fact, there are other organizations that can perform similar functions. As we know, it is the UN, and the EU police mission… But we also know how such missions usually finish – it is Serbian Krajina and others. We and our residents have a lot of pretentions to the OSCE SMM, but it is relatively objective. It involves 57 countries, including Russia, and decisions are taken unanimously. That is they cannot act in spite of common sense. All their actions are limited to mandate. When the shells begin to arrive, they are required for security measures – it is their instruction – to leave the territory, because the OSCE is responsible for security before the leaders of the countries that make up the organization. They are responsible for every employee, and therefore, if something happens to them – this is a very serious problem. Therefore, they have very clearly defined instructions, everything is loud and simple, and they are required to leave (shelled area – editor’s note)… Their mission is to observe and record everything that happens.

If we talk about the bombardments, it is clear for us from where the shells arrive. For us, it is obvious which side conducts shelling. It is Ukraine. But for them it is not always clear, and if there is a probability (at least in theory) that it is not 100% Ukraine, they simply indicate the direction…

As an example, let us remember the shelling of Yelenovka. Horrible bombardment when at night sleeping people experienced bombing. It was another tragedy, not the first and, unfortunately, not the last. What happens? They (OSCE) indicate the direction, and in this direction there is a part of our territory. Theoretically, it is possible it was, roughly speaking, us – we arrived at the contact line, turned around, and bummed. For us, it is absurd, it even sounds impossible, but for them there is a theoretical possibility, and therefore, they cannot say exactly what it was Ukraine.

For us it is important that they remain unarmed, but for Ukraine it is advantageous that the unarmed OSCE mission to leave. Or equip some other unit. But then it will not be the OSCE SMM but some other department, police mission, for example. In fact, for them it is an opportunity to occupy of our territory by proxy. That is what Ukraine is trying to achieve. When we say something against the OSCE despite all their shortcomings, we just play along with Ukraine. It is their dream that here, in our country, the streets were full of armed UN soldiers, “blue helmets”, and it is, in fact, it will save Ukraine from the need to carry out political paragraphs. Why, then, a special status? Because the situation is under control now. That is the essence.

Paragraph 4. On the first day after the withdrawal to begin a dialogue on the modalities of the local elections in accordance with Ukrainian law and Ukraine’s law “On temporary order of local government in some regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions”, as well as the future operation of these regions on the basis of this law.

– It seems that it is the law of Ukraine, but on the other hand, it must be agreed with us. That is, it is the strongest part of the Minsk agreements, because we do not agree on anything bad to us. I will say this: we don’t agree of anything bad and anything disastrous for the people of Ukraine too. All we want to do is absolutely transparent. For example, how do we want to hold elections? We want them to be completely honest. We want people to be able to choose whom they want to choose. Those who are able to protect their interests, who will not impose them which holidays to celebrate, who consider as our grandfathers and fathers, what movies to watch, what books children should study at school…

Specifically on this paragraph, we handed four options for elections modalities. With regard to the sub-group coordinator for political affairs Pierre Morel, he has already prepared 13 or 14 modality options. In turn, Ukraine has never presented in writing their positions. They do not agree in the oral mode “because they do not agree”. They do not agree with us, they do not agree with what the OSCE offers… At the last meeting were talking about the fact that some small steps have been already agreed, and the representative of the Ukrainian side says: “Look, we do not remember this. Where is our signature? “. And this is the cynicism of the situation. Even if something has reached some sort of compromise, it is all canceled again. This is the position of the Ukrainian side.

Paragraphs 5-6. Ensure pardons and amnesties by the enactment of a law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine; Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of the principle “all for all”…

– The law was adopted, I recall, in October 2014 by the Verkhovna Rada, but was not signed by either the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada or the President of Ukraine. Now this issue is on the agenda of political subgroup and it is raised regularly. But it is not discussed! The representative of Ukraine says: “I am not authorized” – and we don’t even get to this issue in the agenda. Accordingly, it makes it difficult for humanitarian subgroup to operate, which should make the exchange of “all for all”. In fact, the situation is blocked. Cynicism of negotiators in the humanitarian subgroup is that they work for PR, while there are no conciliatory gestures.  Out of everyone who is present there and more than others understands the need for this law is Medvedchuk. He can be treated in different ways, but here his position is open and clear: this law is necessary, and then there will be the exchange. Everyone else there is bothered with self-promoting. Poroshenko’s political will is required here. Here direct pressure from the Western countries is needed.

With some amendments, which the political group should have discussed, the law would suit us. At the very least, as a step that would allow the exchange of the confirmed, and it is about 600 people, plus those who are on the wanted list. We know where they are, but Ukraine does not confirm them, they were either tortured or persecuted. In general, we need another law, and we discuss this topic as well, although it is also possible to modify this particular law. But there is no political solution. Poroshenko tries to justify the fact that Rada will not vote for it or something else. But when it was necessary to justify the real criminals, who staged a coup and who destroyed the unit “Berkut”, they adopted and signed an amnesty law during a few days.

In relation to us the word “amnesty” sounds wrong. We simply use the term because it is clear what it is about… To be pardoned, it is necessary to plead guilty, but we are not guilty – on the contrary, we consider them guilty. But we did not draw attention here, otherwise we would break a lot of lances here…

Paragraph 7. Ensure secure access, delivery, storage and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need on the basis of an international mechanism.

– As you know, we have the main supplier of humanitarian aid – it is the Russian Federation. The work we carry out with the rest is the same as performed in other states. Here, in the Republic, Inter-ministerial committee on accreditation of humanitarian missions is working… We have a decree of the Head of the Republic, we have a provision for accreditation, so everything is transparent and clear.

Paragraph 8. Determination of modalities for full restoration of social and economic relations, including social transfers, such as pensions and other payments…

– Unfortunately, we have no absolute certainty right now that the pension will be paid. As we know, they stopped paying pensions in 2014. The situation here, we can say, has degraded. Previously, it was easier for our pensioners – it was necessary to leave once and arrange a card … Now it is more and more difficult, our pensioners have to go there and stay there, live there on this tiny pension, because they will be checked, neighbours will be interrogate and so on. The situation in this respect has only worsened.

There is also a technical aspect of the issue. Germany was to provide technical assistance, the issue of opening at least one representation of the bank through which payments would go was discussed. None of this is done, and they always range far and wide. For us, these offices were needed, so that pensions would be paid through them. But even this aspect is not executed.

Paragraph 9. Restoration of full control over the state border from the side of Ukraine’s government throughout the conflict zone, which should begin on the first day after the local elections, and end after comprehensive political settlement…

– For Ukraine, it would be wonderful and great if this paragraph would be fulfilled now. And we know why: blood purges will happen here, and we won’t be able to survive if this paragraph would be executed. This paragraph is considered to be one of the last, because all the previous need to be completed, and then we will talk about the border directly. Moreover, according to all other paragraphs, according to the constitutional amendments, the national militia has to provide a law and order here. Accordingly, it should protect the border as well.

Critics of the Minsk negotiations often throw a stone in our garden that we, they say, give away the border. Nobody is going give if away mindlessly. We are well aware that this will be a countdown of our days if this is done in exactly the form in which Ukraine wants it.

Paragraph 10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed forces, military equipment and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. The disarmament of all illegal groups.

– Where are these armed forces?.. There are plenty of armed formations in the territory of Ukraine – Canada, as we know it, and the United States, and Norway… So they must be withdrawn.

Paragraph 11. Implementation of constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force from the end of 2015, involving an element of decentralization as a key element…

– Most importantly, it must have been approved by us in May 2015. This is the version of the amendments to the Constitution that would suit us. But Ukraine does not follow this principle anyway. Let’s face it. What is the weakness of Ukraine and what is their lack of independence? In the absence of subjectivity. It is ruled by the oligarchs, and leaders of the parties are the same, if not the oligarchs, then those persons whose financial assets are in the West. These people are easily manipulated. A hint of sanctions makes them very obedient, and on their hind legs, they begin to do whatever they are asked…

Paragraph 12. On the basis of the Law of Ukraine “On temporary order of local government in some regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions”, issues concerning the local elections will be discussed and agreed with the representatives of individual regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the framework of the trilateral contact group. The elections will be conducted in compliance with the relevant standards of the OSCE with monitoring by the OSCE ODIHR.

– The election must be held according to the OSCE standards in compliance with the requirements of the ODIHR OSCE. We agree, but until now we haven’t talked about it. But we are open, please!..

Why do we need the primaries? The primaries involve self-nominated, we have the majority system. There are no political parties. In fact, anyone can be a member of any social movement, but he has put oneself forward, not from the public movement. They must submit themselves, prove and convince voters that it is necessary to vote for them, and they will defend the interests of citizens. It is vital for us…

First, the international community needs to demonstrate that we are ready for the elections. We can fully ensure the safety by forces of the Interior Ministry, as it is happening now. The second reason – we have to choose the most worthy candidates.

Paragraph 13. Intensify the activities of the tripartite contact group, including through the establishment of working groups for the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the tripartite contact group.

– Thirteenth paragraph is the only paragraph that has been executed. There are four sub-groups we have created: for humanitarian affairs, political, on security and on economic issues.

Only the 13th paragraph was executed. Others, unfortunately, are not fulfilled…

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