On April 18, Minsk hosted a regular meeting of the Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Donbass. The agenda included issues of armistice violations, the implementation of the agreement on the disengagement of forces and facilities, the restoration of Vodafone’s signal in the territory of the Republic, and the preparation of the exchange of prisoners.
According to the source at the peace talks in the capital of Belarus, the restoration of the signal of the mobile operator Vodafone in the territory of the Republic remains one of the priority tasks in the subgroup on economic issues.
“The Donetsk People’s Republic has provided all the necessary guarantees requested by the Ukrainian party, thus fulfilling its part of the agreements reached.
As a result of today’s meeting, an understanding has been reached on the timing of the implementation of further steps to restore the mobile operator in the territory of the DPR and the LPR. The further procedure completely depends on the actions or inaction of the Ukrainian party,” the source said.
According to the source, representatives of the DPR and the LPR for the negotiations of the Contact Group submitted a proposal to attract international organizations to address the problem of non-payment of pensions to residents of the People’s Republic by Ukraine.
“The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated November 7, 2014, despite the absence of any legal grounds, stopped payments of pensions and social benefits to residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. A million old people, veterans and disabled people were put on the brink of survival. In February 2015, the paragraph on the need to restore pensions was fixed in the Set of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which, in turn, was signed by all parties of the Contact Group and supported by a resolution of the UN Security Council. Do I need to say, this paragraph has not been implemented so far?
Moreover, even the own court recognized the actions of the Ukrainian government as illegal. In October 2015, the first chamber of the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine rendered a decision on the payment of pensions, salaries and social benefits to those who live in the territories of the DPR and the LPR.
But whatever the negotiators undertook: launching along the contact line of “mobile banks”, restoring Oschadbank’s branches in a number of settlements, opening banks at checkpoints, everything was done by the Ukrainian side with obvious disdain and, rather, “for a tick”. These decisions have not brought any positive changes in the direction of restoring the payment of pensions to residents of the Republics.
The last initiative of negotiators from the DPR and the LPR was to invite international organizations to the issue of paying pensions. The International Committee of the Red Cross responded to the initiative and offered to take as a basis the payment of pensions to low-mobility pensioners. It is difficult for us to determine which of our elderly citizens can cross the line of contact and who cannot. We consider it necessary to restore the payment of pensions to all elderly citizens. But since the representatives of the ICRC are ready to take up the implementation of this programme, we sincerely hope that they will assess the conditions in which our old people and invalids are forced to move through the contact line, will see their poor health and take our arguments in favour of developing and implementing a pension payment mechanism for all pensioners, residing on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
As for the reaction of the Ukrainian party, it turned out to be quite predictable: Ukraine considers it impossible to delegate powers to pay pensions to any other party,” the source said.
The source added that the negotiators from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics continue to insist on the only possible formula for the exchange of prisoners – “all at all”, without dividing people into categories.
“This principle is spelled out in the Set of Measures, supported by the Contact Group parties and the UN Security Council resolution, which means that this principle should be implemented in practice. So far, unfortunately, the Ukrainian party in every possible way sabotages the implementation of this paragraph of the Set of Measures,” the source said.
The systematic violation of the ceasefire by the Ukrainian side, the actual breakdown of the “Easter truce”, another failure of disengaging military equipment and personnel in the third pilot section – Stanitsa Luganskaya, the general aggravation of the situation on the contact line and the situation around the Donetsk filtering station – these issues have become the main ones at today’s meeting of the negotiators in the working group on security and at the meeting of the Contact Group.
“On the eve of the meeting, the Plenipotentiary Representative of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, sent a number of notes to the OSCE SMM on each case of violation of the ceasefire regime, demanding a thorough investigation. During today’s meeting, a number of methods were suggested that, in the opinion of coordinators of the negotiation process and the Republics, can contribute to ensuring the safety of the DFS staff. Unfortunately, not all measures have been approved by the parties. In particular, we are talking about the Ukrainian side, whose representatives basically do not see their guilt in this incident.
However, the negotiators will continue in the working order to insist on the introduction of additional measures to maintain the ceasefire regime, as well as to identify and punish the perpetrators of violations. Without the introduction of such mechanisms, it is unlikely to talk about the implementation of any armistice or agreement on the disengagement of forces and facilities,” the source concluded.