Denis Pushilin on peace in Donbass, Vodafone’s operation and prospects of synchronization of DPR and LPR legislation

Chairman of the DPR People’s Council, Permanent Representative of the DPR at the talks of the Contact Group in Minsk Denis Pushilin, in an exclusive interview to the Donetsk News Agency, answered a number of topical issues concerning the Minsk negotiation process and the activities of the parliament.

– Denis Vladimirovich, from midnight of July 1, the ‘grain truce’ came into force in the Donbass, but on the first day it was violated by the Ukrainian law enforcers. Is it possible to nevertheless talk about some positive dynamics in the conflict zone, or did another truce not live up to expectations?

– There is, of course, a positive dynamics from the ceasefire in general. If we rely on the reports of the DPR Representation at the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the ceasefire regime, we see that after the announcement of new armistices, not counting the “Easter” one, there has always been a decrease in the level of escalation, as well as the number of bombardments and provocations, but several weeks after the situation was reversed.

– What is needed to ensure that the truce is lasting?

– This, of course, involves the adoption of additional measures to observe the ceasefire. It should be noted that these measures were proposed by the OSCE monitoring mission and sent to the parties. They are pretty acceptable and took into account our proposals as well. After all, we see what is hindering and what is not enough to establish a full-fledged armistice. Any new truce announced in Minsk causes distrust among citizens, and each time we have to explain and show on the example of figures from the reports of the OSCE and the JCCC that in any case the truce has a positive effect. But we would like this effect to be stretched, and not be limited to number of days or weeks.

– That’s exactly what I wanted to touch upon: the topic of additional measures to monitor compliance with the ceasefire. So, before one of the many round of the Minsk talks on July 11, you submitted a list of these measures, which needed to be validated by the signatures of the parties in the Contact Group. However, the Ukrainian side blocked the coordination of these measures already at the level of the subgroup on security. How will the People’s Republics in the future act on this issue?

– At the moment there are only methods of persuasion and defending of our position, which we basically are doing each meeting both in the subgroup on security and in the Contact Group itself. Calls to the guarantor countries, to Germany and France, to take a more active position in the impact on Ukraine, unfortunately, rarely achieve the goal.

– Is the adoption of these measures will completely stop the fire on the entire line of contact?

– Of course not. This requires the disengagement of forces and facilities. That is, the implementation of the Framework Agreement signed by the parties. First, this process should be completed at the three pilot sites, then at new areas and in the future until the moment when forces and facilities are disengaged along the entire contact line. Until then, any armistice, even with additional measures, still will not bring a full-fledged peace, because in some parts of the front the sides are at close range from each other. Even if we avoid intentional provocations on the part of Ukraine, sometimes an aggravation arises by chance.

– How?

– For example, when an ax bangs or a branch is crunched. All this causes on the opposite side the suspicion that the enemy has stepped up activity. Accordingly, the sound is followed by a shot. And there are too many such moments.

Therefore, it is necessary to disengage the sides of the conflict to sufficient distances, after that to establish proper observation between the parties to the conflict. Let this be cameras or round-the-clock patrols of the OSCE somewhere, and after that it will be possible to talk about a full-fledged peace. Before that, we have to get away with partial solutions.

– When is this scenario possible?

– The Ukrainian party is interested in a smoldering conflict, that is, neither peace nor war. This situation brings the necessary justification for the Ukrainian authorities before their citizens for the continuing decline in the economy. In addition, Ukraine thus attracts international attention. That is, Kiev has the additional opportunity to ask for another tranche of money, without which the country’s economy faces a critical condition.

– Let’s go back to the situation in the Donbass. The shelling by the Ukrainian army continues, but the forecasts of a significant intensification of aggression during the World Cup have not been justified. Did Kiev show common sense and did not spoil the holiday for people?

– I believe that it was the maximum attraction of attention to the preparation of various kinds of provocations, the public sounding of possible actions on the part of Kiev and the unambiguous position of Russian President Vladimir Putin forced Ukraine to step back from possible options to destabilize the situation in the Donbass during the World Cup in Russia.

– So we managed to avoid this, because we talked about this a lot, right?

– Yes, absolutely. After all, the information of our intelligence and people living on the other side of the contact line, the concentration of weaponry and the amount of soldiers spoke of the full preparation for provocations. Almost all speakers and mass media talked about such facts, and in such conditions it is not entirely logical to go on provocation.

– What would your forecast regarding the development of the situation on the contact line in the Donbass after the championship be?

– We are dealing with a very difficult opponent, and predicting situational behaviour under different circumstances is a lowly craft. Therefore, we must be prepared for any development of the situation on the contact line.

– Returning to the topic of the sources and facilities’’ disengagement, I would like to mention that earlier, when there was a tense situation at the Donetsk filtering station, you and DPR representatives for the JCCC had said that the DFS could have become the next sector of the disengagement of forces and facilities. Now the situation at the station has stabilized. Is it possible to say that the DFS area is not a priority for disengagement?

– The objects of critical infrastructure, where the Donetsk filtering station belongs, will always be in the zone of close attention. The fact that the situation on the territory of the station has stabilized is evidence that when there is a desire of the parties, then the methods and mechanisms for stabilizing the situation will be found. It is worth giving personal credit to Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE mission Alexander Hug, as well as representatives of the DPR and Ukraine in the JCCC, who really did a lot to stabilize the situation. The only thing that is left is to hope that in this territory the calm situation will be preserved for a long time.

But, unfortunately, new problems are emerging. This is the situation with the site of the Yuzhnodonbass water pipeline, which is located in the area of the Avdeyevka industrial zone, and there is a big water leak that could lead to the DFS having nothing to filter. That is, we coped with one question, but there is now another acute problem that can lead to the fact that without water there will be a large number of people. In this regard, the work will continue, that is, everything related to water supply requires close attention. These issues are not removed from the agenda, they are discussed in the framework of subgroup meetings on security.

– In May, DPR representatives in the JCCC announced Kiev’s failure to comply with the agreements at one of the pilot sites for the forces and facilities’ disengagement – in the Petrovskoye locality area. Does the discussion of this topic continue in the negotiations of the Contact Group and its subgroup on security?

– Naturally, this issue is being discussed now. We have an OSCE report that fixed this, and we will seek clear, strict implementation of agreements from Ukraine and the return of the status quo.

– We will switch from military issues to the more acute topic – the work of a mobile communication. On the 9th of July, the DPR and the LPR experienced another failure in Vodafone’s work. Two days later it turned out that the negotiators in Minsk reached an understanding on specific measures to stabilize the work of the operator in the Republics. Will Vodafone representatives come to the Republic and repair the equipment, or will they help online?

– This issue has three problems: technical nature, the legislative field of Ukraine and security. This concerns the constant repair of equipment and bringing of Vodafone employees to the Republic. Therefore, now the option is considered with the involvement of international contractors, who will be able to ensure the functioning of the network in the Republics. This is one of the options. There is an understanding, there is a desire, so this process will continue.

– As for the exchange of prisoners, the discussion of this issue has been virtually frozen for the last six months. In addition, Ukrainian plenipotentiaries in the humanitarian subgroup have not appeared at meetings in Minsk lately. It seems that the parties are estranging themselves in resolving this issue. What to do next?

– At several recent meetings of the humanitarian subgroup, we do see the absence of Ukrainian negotiators who can make decisions. Unfortunately this is the case. But it is not them who delay the process of discussing the exchange of prisoners. This is due to the political decision that comes from the President of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko. We see an attempt to change the format, that is, the desire to draw in this exchange the terrorists who were arrested in Russia. This is Oleg Sentsov and the other gang that do not have anything to do with us.

– In the next six months, can there be an exchange?

– This forecast will not be given, because we are dealing with Ukraine.

– You as Chairman of the People’s Council are engaged in the development of interparliamentary cooperation between the DPR and the LPR. In June, deputies of the two Republics held the first working meeting in Donetsk. How is the implementation of the protocol on cooperation in legislative activities going on?

– At this stage there is a full-fledged interaction at the expert level. Now, in the final approval phase, there are three draft laws, which the parliaments of the DPR and the LPR are working through together.

– What bills are we talking about?

– The first is a bill on customs clearance of vehicles, which will create an absolutely transparent mechanism for importing transport and escape from some schemes when it is better to import transport in one of the territories. We should have equal and transparent conditions in the Republics. The next document is a draft law on the protection of the rights of children, so that the rights of children are protected synchronously in the Republics, and this was done with the active participation of the Ombudspersons for Children’s Rights. The third bill is about the Victory Banner, which aims to create uniform standards for the use of its copy.

– How do you see the final result of interparliamentary cooperation? Complete unification of the legislation of both Republics?

– Complete unification will not happen, because there are different specific conditions and factors that do not allow this. But wherever possible, the legislation will be synchronized.

– How much can the legislation of the DPR and the LPR be synchronized?

– According to our estimates, we will be able to synchronize 80-85 percent of legislation of the DPR and the LPR. True, this is a very painstaking work proceeding from the fact that during this whole period of time we adopted laws without regard to each other.

– It is already known that the next meeting of parliamentarians of the DPR and the LPR will be held in September in Lugansk. Is there an understanding of the agenda of this meeting?

– The agenda is still being worked out by experts. It is known that these three bills, which I mentioned above, will be included; perhaps, by that time there will be new ones.

– Thank you.

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