I am proud of my people who weren’t frightened by the unknown, and who took responsibility for their land on May 11, 2014. At that time we were all eager to act, to change our lives; we said fine phrases and high slogans. Now it’s time to replace these calls with routine work of their implementation.
Every day, taking this or that decision, creating laws, restoring the economy, developing and supporting the work of non-governmental organizations and humanitarian missions, we put the interests of our state and nation at the forefront. The same applies to the execution of the Minsk agreements.
I know how much criticism and discontent this word-combination has in itself. But I also know how much misery and grief can bring disruption of “Minsk-2”. In view of the security of the Republic and its citizens, information on the progress of the negotiation process is closed. We cannot give out our purposes and plans, reveal the meaning of many of our steps and positions, even to our own people, so that the enemy would take advantage of them. But I will try to convey to every citizen the importance of the processes that are taking place. Because single-handedly it will be very difficult to build a strong state and to defend the interests of the people without the support and confidence of every citizen.
The first difficulty in understanding of Minsk agreements’ implementation is that many people heard of them, but there are few who read their text. As well there are few people who know how much effort has been spent on persuading Ukraine to the signing of this particular text, and how significant this victory was. Then, in February 2015, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko conducted 16-hour negotiations in Minsk Palace of Independence, which resulted in the Package of measures on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. And the main victory of the document was the wording of the need to harmonize all laws and decisions with the DPR and LPR representatives. It is this very position that haunts Ukraine today.
Second nuance is the parties of the conflict. According to the document signed, the parties in conflict are Ukraine and the DPR/LPR. The Russian Federation and the OSCE are mediators in the conflict. From which it follows that the charges of many Ukrainian as well as Western politicians about Russia and their failure of the Minsk agreements are absolutely illogical. Paragraphs of the agreements must be implemented by the parties of the conflict, and the coordinators must monitor the implementation.
As for the document itself, it pursues four main objectives: the solution of political, economic, humanitarian and security issues.
The first paragraph of the Package of measures requires full and immediate cease-fire, that is, the signing of the so-called armistice and maintenance of the “silence mode”. Unfortunately, every resident of the Donetsk People’s Republic knows non-compliance with this regime. Over the past day Ukrainian military violated the ceasefire 698 times. At the same time the enemy continues to use the prohibited by the agreements artillery during shelling of the Republic’s territory.
According to the decisions adopted by the Contact group, all the weapons of a large caliber should be withdrawn to the storage locations. These paragraphs of the Package of measures and decisions of the Contact group aim at minimizing casualties or damage, the establishment of absolute armistice, but none of these decisions has not been implemented by Ukraine.
Our negotiators have proposed to introduce charges for the parties for violation of the ceasefire. In our opinion, only strict measures applied to both sides of the conflict can constrain shooting.
A special style of Ukrainian military became the occupation of the “gray areas”. In some places, the distance between the positions of the parties does not exceed 100 meters. In such circumstances, tense situation is particularly high. The paper on sides’ separation, discusses in recent months by security subgroup, could relieve tension in such hot spots. But even here the Ukrainian side is delaying the process as much as possible, bringing in the document such paragraphs that are obviously unacceptable to us.
One of the most important and complex subgroups is the subgroup of political affairs. These very paragraphs must be agreed with the representatives of the People’s Republics. Peaceful settlement of the conflict depends largely on their implementation.
The law “On Special Status of Donbass” with mandatory fixing of amendments in the body of the Constitution of Ukraine allows Ukraine to simultaneously preserve its territorial integrity, but not infringe upon the desire of the people to self-determination too. The implementation of this paragraph makes Ukraine actually a confederal state in which regions have the right to their own opinion, the vector of development, independence. Today’s Ukrainian government doesn’t need nor the law or this paragraph.
The election law is aimed at holding fair and transparent elections according to international standards and norms of the OSCE ODIHR.
An interesting detail: once the OSCE ODIHR’s standards on elections were compiled by Western partners in such a way to maximally decentralize the power in the state where the elections are taking place. It was aimed directed against the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation in particular. Today, holding of elections according to the rules of the OSCE ODIHR would achieve decentralization, while taking away any arguments in insolvency of such standards from Ukraine, because these standards are Western. Thus, this tool now plays in our favour.
Unfortunately, Ukraine is delaying this process at most too. During the work of the political subgroup, we have transferred four options for the modalities of the election. Coordinator of the subgroup Pierre Morel prepared and rendered to the discussion 13 or 14 options. Only Ukraine has not provided any options modalities of the elections, they have never provided a written position on this issue. The only thing that Ukrainian side claims is disagreement with any proposals. Moreover, today Ukrainian representatives also refuse from the previously agreed positions.
The amnesty law has already been adopted in October 2014 by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, but it was never signed by either the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada or Ukrainian President and never entered into force actually. No matter how the name of the law sounds, it is important that it would become the basis for the implementation of paragraph on exchange “all for all”, pardon of persons who have been sentenced, and the absence of prosecution in the future. But for such a decision of the Ukrainian authorities need political will, and neither the President nor the Parliament has such.
Paragraph of the Package of measures envisages exchange of prisoners according to the formula “all for all”. Exchanges 2 for 2, 20 for 10, 50 for 25 were a gesture of goodwill. We have demonstrated a willingness to implement this paragraph, showed that we do not harbor hatred towards Ukrainian people, but despise men who came to power illegally. However, the soldiers, who we brought back to mothers, took up arms again.
Today, there are just over 40 Ukrainian soldiers in the DPR. Ukraine has confirmed more than 600 of our guys. And this is only the official information. We do not know how many people brave SSU jailed only for their loyalty and sympathy for our situation, for posts in social networks and unwanted opinion. Given all this, our position is firm and unchangeable today – only the implementation of paragraph 5 of the Package of measures, only the exchange of “all for all”.
Restoration of socioeconomic relations, banking system, payment of pensions and other social benefits – that is what the Package of measures prescripts. Unfortunately, this paragraph can be fulfilled only by Ukraine. Neither we unilaterally, neither Russia nor the OSCE cannot open in Donetsk or Lugansk the Ukrainian bank or make Pension Fund of Ukraine to pay residents of Donbass the pension that they deserve. Liability for failure to comply with this paragraph lies entirely on Ukraine.
In conclusion, I would like to mention: with their acts of terror against Donbass and Crimea, with short-sighted foreign and domestic policy, the Ukrainian government has already heavily discredited itself by showing us and the world their own inability to negotiate, inconsistency and lack of subjectivity in acceptance of decisions.
Today, we can only wait until the next wrong decision of the Ukrainian government – or bursting patience of ordinary Ukrainians will finally destroy unified Ukraine as a state…
Denis Pushilin, the Chairman of the People’s Council of the DPR, permanent plenipotentiary representative of the DPR in the trilateral contact group at peace negotiations in Minsk