Denis Pushilin announces holding of conference “Cultural space of people of Russia and Donbass” in Moscow
On March 1, the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation held an enlarged meeting of the Committee for Public Support of the residents of south-eastern Ukraine. The event focused on the discussion of the situation in Donbass, work of the Ministry of Emergency Situation of Russia to provide humanitarian assistance to residents of the People’s Republics, as well as the preparation of the Conference on “Cultural space of the peoples of Russia and Donbass”.
The Chairman of the DPR People’s Council, the Permanent Plenipotentiary Representative of the DPR in the Contact group’s negotiations in Minsk Denis Pushilin, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lugansk People’s Republic Vladislav Deynego, the Secretary of State – the Deputy Minister for Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief Oleg Bazhenov, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Science, Education and Culture Zinaida Dragunkina, the Acting Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Lugansk People’s Republic Alexander Drobot were invited to the meeting.
The Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Yuri Vorobyov, who chaired the meeting, opened the meeting of the Committee for Public Support of the residents of south-eastern Ukraine and underlined in his introductory speech that the position of Russia on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass remained unchangeable.
ʺToday we are holding a regular meeting of the Committee for Public Support of the residents of south-eastern Ukraine. Our meeting is taking place in a very difficult and arduous conditions currently prevailing in the south-east of Ukraine.
On February 24, a scandalous law on so-called “reintegration” came into force, thereby confirming Kiev’s focus on the forceful solution of the conflict on the territory of Donbass. The law also defines Russia as an “aggressor country” and the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as “occupied”, which gives the right to the president of Ukraine to use armed forces in Donbass and in peacetime. By signing this law, the president of Ukraine actually cancels the Minsk agreements, giving a free hand to a military party. In our opinion, its practical application threatens the risks of serious escalation of the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine.
Cases of solving problems by force, the intensification of the activity of Ukrainian radicals and ultranationalists, sabotage and spyware groups, including in the territory of our country, on the part of the official Kiev has increased after the entry into force of this law.
As we can see, Ukraine tries to move away from the implementation of the Minsk agreements by all means. And it not only fails to comply with these agreements, but also tries to revise them.
In addition, the United States’ position on the conflict is unclear. Unfortunately, frequent and controversial statements of officials of the administration of the president of the United States and their representatives in Ukraine do not offer much clarity on the issue.
The position of the Russian Federation on the settlement of the conflict does not change.
For our part, our committee is interested in the fact that the social structures and representatives of our regions have found common projects with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,ʺ Yuri Vorobyov said.
Denis Pushilin, in his turn, told about the situation in the Donbass and how it affected the lives of citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as well as about the progress of the negotiation process in Minsk.
ʺI would like to start with an event, which we observed, whether Ukraine will adopt the law on the so-called “reintegration” or not. Unfortunately, it took this step and the Ukrainian president signed the law.
We consider this legislative initiative of the Ukrainian politicians as an attempt to legalize its criminal acts and violence against the citizens of Donbass, which was committed and are committed to this day by the Ukrainian authorities. We understand that, on the one hand, these attempts will never succeed. This law has no retroactive effect. On the other hand, the actions of Kiev confirm once again that they committed crimes, that is, they used an army and all the weapons available to them, including aviation and heavy artillery, against the population of Donbass.
In turn, we would like to point out that this legislative initiative does not remove responsibility from Ukraine in fulfilling its obligations under the Package of Measures, which is confirmed by the UN Security Council’s resolution. This agenda has been approved and has remained unchanged for two years and confirmation to that was provided at the meeting in Minsk yesterday.
The agenda includes granting of special status to the Republics, the mechanism of entry into force of this law and amnesty. These provisions were discussed and approved by the Normandy Four in 2015 in Paris and in 2016 in Berlin. However, Kiev finds new reasons not to fulfil the commitments made to evade responsibility. Now we can say that the negotiation process stagnates. The paradox of the Ukrainian position on this issue is the absence of any position at all. Ukraine does not take steps to implement the Package of Measures and does not declare openly that it is not going to implement it.
In addition, this political stalling affects all other areas. It is not possible to speak about safety, because it is all about political component. Ukraine has long been away from the peace initiative for the separation of forces and means along the line of contact. I recall that three pilot areas were identified for the separation of forces and means. It took place at two of them and was quite successful. We document a cease-fire regime there, the sides are far enough from each other and it is almost unviolated. But on the third pilot area – near Stanitsa Luganskaya – the separation of forces has taken place to this day.
The work of the economic subgroup also comes down to political component, and the lifting of the economic blockade is the main issue under discussion, the solution of which is now at a standstill. Blockades of different sorts are only strengthened. This year, the communication blockade was documented when the services of the Ukrainian mobile network operator Vodafone for the inhabitants of the DPR have become inaccessible since January 11. Accordingly, the residents of the Republics have lost contact with relatives, who reside in the territory controlled by Ukraine. There are additional challenges for older people who cannot replace mobile communication with various messengers widely used by young audience.
Some agreements are also not reached because of stalling in resolution of political issues in the Sub-Group on Humanitarian Affairs. Despite a great prisoner exchange that took place before the New Year, unfortunately, it was not possible to achieve a complete understanding in the exchange on “all for all” basis. Ukraine is trying to divide the detained citizens into groups and categories in order to make the exchange impossible to perform.
We believe that Ukraine will not change this position without sufficiently serious pressure from guarantor countries, in particular Germany and France. Ukraine is trying to blur everything and, unfortunately, I do not see any clear mechanism of Ukraine’s implementation of the Package of Measures in the foreseeable future.
We, for our part, reaffirm our commitment to the Minsk agreements and do our best to ensure that they are implemented. We cannot expect that Ukraine changes its mind sooner or later. Our citizens, and they number four million people, cannot live in a vacuum or waiting. They need to live, work and get an education today. Therefore, the Republic is focused on the welfare of citizens of the DPR and LPR,ʺ Denis Pushilin said.
Vladislav Deynego, for his part, told about two key points that made it possible to conclude on the inability of the Ukrainian side to negotiate.
ʺThe focus is on security issues, and two iconic solutions have been adopted, which are now the indicators of Ukraine’s ability to negotiate, possibility of returning to constructive dialogue. First of all, it is a declaration of commitment to the full observance of the cease-fire regime. During the discussion, it was noted that previous statements were not sufficiently implemented, although they allowed a serious reduction in the number of shelling. It is now necessary to reaffirm our commitment.
The second key point is that another attempt of the separation of forces and means near Stanitsa Luganskaya is planned on March 5. As Denis Pushilin said, this is the key to extending this practice along the whole line of contact. Previous experience shows that Ukraine categorically evades the implementation of the first stage,ʺ Vladislav Deynego said.
The Secretary of State – the Deputy Minister for Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief Oleg Bazhenov made a report on the work done by the Ministry in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the residents of Donbass.
ʺThis year, the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief has already formed two aid convoys (in January and February) and delivered about a thousand tons of humanitarian goods. We provide targeted assistance to socially unprotected categories of population. In particular, it is targeted assistance to children with disabilities, children from low-income families, children of single mothers, as well as orphaned children. Each humanitarian convoy has about 54 thousand of children humanitarian packages.
We are planning to form another aid convoy on March 29, this year. We continue to work, and it should be noted that the humanitarian operation has certainly averted a humanitarian catastrophe in the region,ʺ Oleg Bazhenov said.
The Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Science, Education and Culture Zinaida Dragunkina reported on the work on the organization of the Conference “Cultural space of the peoples of Russia and Donbass”, which will take place on April 19 in Moscow.
ʺThe specialists from Donetsk People’s Republic were participants of various all-Russian seminar-workshops, creative laboratories and festivals during 2017.
We, of course, hope that this line of action will find its continuation in concrete work after the conference,ʺ Zinaida Dragunkina said.
Denis Pushilin also noted the importance of the upcoming conference.
ʺIt is advisable to involve our journalists in the real-time display of events that will take place within the framework of this conference. It is really important to feel our unity. This is the direction that was chosen within the framework of the work of the Russian Centre, the integration program, and our people have great expectations,ʺ the parliamentary speaker said.
Yuri Vorobyov, in his turn, emphasized the political significance of the Conference “Cultural space of the peoples of Russia and Donbass”.
ʺBy holding this conference, we show the whole world that we can cooperate in the cultural sphere, live in one world, participate in common events, educate our youth in the spirit of patriotism and brotherhood. This is a very important political event,ʺ the Chair said.