Acting DPR Head Denis Pushilin speaks about Alexander Zakharchenko’s assassination, situation in DPR and Minsk process
The organizers of the murder of DPR Head Alexander Zakharchenko wanted to destabilize the situation in the Donbass, but they achieved the opposite effect: the population of the Republic has united even more. This was stated in an exclusive interview with RT by Acting Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin.
He noted that Donetsk is ready to continue working in the Minsk format, although Kiev does not fulfil its obligations. Denis Pushilin also spoke about the double standards of the West with regard to military operations in the East of Ukraine, the economic successes of the Republic and the readiness of the DPR militia to repulse the possible offensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
– Let’s start with the recent tragic events – the death of the DPR Head, Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko. What is currently known, what can be said regarding the investigation?
– To begin with, this is not just death. This is a terrorist act, this is murder, this is an act of aggression. It is already possible to speak – and the results of the investigation point to this, – that this is Ukraine, this is a special intelligence service that is almost under the control of the president of Ukraine himself. It’s really sad. From what we see in the European press, in the European media, he [the president of Ukraine] is some kind of the president of peace, committed to the Minsk agreements and so on. In fact, we see real actions, real deeds and the real ‘desire’ for peace.
It is also known that this is a highly professional work. This device, which was laid, was problematic to launch at the right time. It is possible that the professionals of the highest level worked here.
– Condemnation of this act of terrorism came only from the Russian Federation. All the rest – well, let’s say, people from the world community, from other countries – kept silent. Representatives of the OSCE also seem to have not yet expressed themselves. What do you think about it?
– Moreover, it happened literally 200 meters from the hotel, where the very OSCE live, and they certainly heard and saw everything that happened after. But, alas, we have become accustomed to double standards since 2014. Of course, it was unclear to us why all the armament of Ukraine is used against us, why planes are sent, why heavy equipment is applied – “Uragans”, “Smerches”, “Grads”, and Western media are silent, as if nothing is happening.
We, even being enemies, do not allow such actions. When we propose to honour the memory of the person who was killed, with a minute of silence, this is absolutely normal. But the OSCE simply makes a half gesture. They are silent this minute, but are sitting, not getting up. Why is this happening? Why, when the employee of the OSCE SMM died in the Lugansk region, we had no doubt when the OSCE themselves proposed the same thing – to honour the person with a minute of silence? Of course, we got up. No one even thought to sabotage or do something else.
Why is this normal towards the Donbass?
– And I’m right in the assessment that Alexander Zakharchenko was perceived as an obstacle to the growth of pro-Ukrainian forces here in the Donbass? How great are the chances of pro-Ukrainian forces to join the political process here?
– You know that both Alexander Zakharchenko and the absolute majority of people here – the absolute, I emphasize – are anti-Ukrainian representatives. I’ll tell you that the chances of changing the situation are now almost equal or approaching zero. And here we can already probably talk about reconciliation, which will last for decades. No less than that. There is too much blood between us.
– And the war is already lasting longer than the Great Patriotic War, it turns out.
– That’s right.
– Many people say that now there are four options for the DPR. It is complete independence, it is a broad autonomy within Ukraine, it is to return everything as it was, or the fourth, completely different option. Do you think you can now derive a formula?
– You know, the formula cannot be derived. First, now Ukraine is hesitant whether to extend the law on the operation of a special status or not. We have repeatedly stated – and we are at one with the LPR in this – if this law is not prolonged, then, in fact, it knocks out the whole basis from the Minsk agreements. What then to talk about, what elements can be discussed?
Now the ball is on the side of Ukraine. But I myself am a participant in the negotiations. It’s getting harder and harder for me. We are already speaking different languages. And it’s not Russian and Ukrainian – it’s kind of like two Russians, but completely different. We are talking about peace, we are talking about the fact that the situation needs to be changed, proceeding from the interests of citizens. It all sounds. But all this comes to threats. All this, probably, determines the suspended state, which already lasts, alas, not the first year.
– The organizers of the explosion which killed Zakharchenko, as far as I understand, hoped that there would be chaos, confusion. But we see it didn’t happen, right?
– Moreover, of course, the task of such actions is destabilization of the situation. This is, in fact, a military clash and this is a breakdown of the Minsk agreements, which is profitable Ukraine, basically. But Ukraine has been failing to understand the Donbass so much that it received the opposite effect. There was a uniting around the leader of Donbass even after his death.
– As far as I understand, the broad masses of people are not as familiar with you as with the deceased DPR Head. What course are you going to follow?
– The course is already defined. This course was chosen by Alexander Vladimirovich, it is supported by our people. It corresponds to the interests of our citizens, accordingly, this course will be continued. Close interaction with the team – it’s all there, it’s not gone. I’m also part of the team. And the desires that were and should be realized are simple, but in the current situation are not very fast to fulfil. It is about raising the social standard of living of our citizens. Again, because of Ukraine, because of economic blockade, unrecognized documents and other things people are experiencing additional difficulties. It turns out that their rights are violated. Yes, the West is silent. But we can do a lot. Yes, it is difficult, yes, a number of obstacles is present. But we can handle everything. We communicate and see that the biggest problem for people is exhaustion.
– Memories of what kind of person Zakharchenko was are still fresh. Many called him Batya (Gaffer). He used to come to the forefront, and talked to the people very often. Are you going to do something like that?
– The situation is that, on the one hand, we are at war, and on the other hand, a huge number of people are real-time civilians. You need to pay a lot of attention to both, because if we do not pay attention to the military component, we will be simply destroyed. And I already have an approximate plan of activity in this direction. Again, we cannot forget about people, about their down-to-earth desires. They want the social responsibility of the state to be fulfilled. That is, schools, hospitals, institutes, transport, and utilities to work in full. Of course, like Alexander Vladimirovich, I will not bypass any of these areas.
– What is the general basis of the DPR economy?
– The Donbass has always been an industrial area. It was possible [to achieve] – and this is a great achievement of, first of all, Alexander Vladimirovich, – that all enterprises are working. It was not easy. Here I am optimistic, because it’s slow, but we’re approaching the right volume. Accordingly, in means taxes income, jobs are appearing. Often these enterprises are city-forming. An audit was conducted. There was some restructuring of the mines, which used to be subsidized. But the coal mining industry is gaining momentum anyway. And, of course, do not forget about agriculture. Now we will implement the development plan with the Ministry of Agro-Industrial Policy. This is also a task.
– And the state humanitarian aid, which comes from the Russian Federation, covers all the citizens’ needs?
– The critical humanitarian situation was in 2014. And then the Kremlin really saved our lives. Now, humanitarian aid is aimed at improving, repairing, and medical care. And here Russia’s support for us is crucial. Again, the Donbass has never been a scrounger. Our citizens do not represent themselves in this role. The peak of problems has passed, we want to work. Let us work – and we will fix the situation, we can even help other regions. So it was when Ukraine was normal, and so, I’m sure, it will continue.
– Now people say that on September 14 there will be another offensive of the AFU. How serious is this statement?
– If we remember the recent occasion for Ukraine’s aggression, this was the World Cup in Russia and, of course, the opportunity to spoil, impair and simply do dirt on Russia, – and Ukraine could not afford to try to do it. Naturally, a very serious provocation was being prepared. We made this information public. And, of course, there was the decisive factor in the form of the statement of the President of the Russian Federation when he said: don’t, it’s no good, you will lose your statehood. It worked. And this made Ukraine do nothing. Now we make information public, and Ukraine does not have much choice: either to follow its previously established plans and tasks, or somehow change something. But I am again optimistic that our mechanism is working. This does not mean that we just need to relax and think that nothing will happen. No, Ukraine is insidious, Ukraine is controlled from the outside – we all know it. And what commands will be delivered, how this will all be realized – no one knows. Therefore, we need to be prepared for anything. But, again, not only on the 14th, but literally every day.
– Do you think the militia will avenge the death of Zakharchenko?
– You know, after this event, every Republican resident’s emotional state, of course, is peaking. But let’s look at this more pragmatically. Naturally, we will not leave this unanswered. We will find out later what kind of answer will this be, what period of time it will embrace and how painful it will be for Ukraine. But the fact that it won’t be unanswered is explicit.
– I talk with different people in Ukraine. And, so to say, there are more adequate people than those who want ‘to hang the Muscovites.’ Will you communicate with such people?
– There are sensible people, there are sound ideas, there are sound projects. I communicate with such people. I do not think I need to stop talking with them. They do not now have the proper support because of fear – not because of the fact that people do not want to support them, but because of the repressive machine – it is still deployed at full capacity. On the one hand, this minority is radical. But it, this minority, is now in power. With the support of the West, again. And here all the possibilities of state administration, administrative resources have already been used.
A very serious repressive machine – with the help of the SBU, other bodies – was deployed. Now the peace in Ukraine is not the slogan with which one can enter elections.
– What about the “Minsk”? Will the process continue in the near future? Dmitry Peskov said that in the “Normandy format” there is nothing more and nobody to talk to. But, as for “Minsk,” is the next meeting planned?
– The Minsk platform itself is interesting for us, because we can be heard from this site. The fact that Ukraine does nothing – this just indicates that they do not want a peaceful settlement at this stage. What does Peskov say? He says there’s nothing to talk about right now. Because what was said in the past “Normandy format” is not implemented. Not implemented in the Minsk format, not implemented by the Contact Group on political affairs. The subgroup on security is not implemented, where it concerns Stanitsa Luganskaya. Accordingly, what to talk about? They agreed to do it all – and they failed. They did not even condemn the murder of a signer of the Minsk agreements.