About DPR Readiness for Dialogue with Ukraine and
the Likelihood of Kiev Sabotaging Local Elections
Interview with Alexander Zakharchenko
Zakharchenko official website
Edited autotranslation by Quemado Institute
January 4, 2015
Posted January 5, 2015
Alexander Zakharchenko answered reporters’ questions about the readiness of the Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] for direct dialogue with Ukraine, and the possibility that Kiev will sabotage local elections in the country.
Question: Is the DPR willing to conduct a direct dialogue with Ukraine, as in the past year?
Zakharchenko: Representatives of Donbass have repeatedly said that they are ready for direct dialogue with Ukraine. The fact is that Ukraine is not ready. Not ready because beginning a direct dialogue with us will be indirectly recognizing the criminal nature of Kiev’s punitive operations in Donbass—the so-called ATO [“Anti-Terrorist Operation”].
Let’s think about how it would look with regard to Kiev’s punitive policies toward Donbass, if Kiev officials began a direct dialogue with us. Why then did this genocide take place? What was the reason for the countless victims? What caused the split in the country? After all, the smart people in Kiev—there have to be some—could not fail to realize that the first shot by their tank at an apartment house in Donbass, the first Ukrainian aircraft sortie on Donetsk and Lugansk, made Donbass’ will and desire for independence irreversible. We were ready to negotiate at the outset, but Kiev preferred to speak to us in the language of tanks and guns.
I understand that Poroshenko finds it easier and more enjoyable to talk with Vladimir Putin, especially in the presence of Merkel and Hollande, than with us. Again, it flatters his vanity. But it’s time to realize that the fate of Ukraine will be solved here in Donetsk, not in Moscow, and especially not in Berlin and Paris.
It is the people of Donbass who expressed their will at the referendum, and successfully defended this decision by force of arms, not President Putin, with all due respect to him. Therefore, whether Kiev wants to or not, they will have to conduct a dialogue directly with us. If Poroshenko cannot do this, it means there will have to be a different president in Ukraine.
Question: Will elections again be rescheduled in the event of sabotage of the process by the Ukrainian side, and what is the probability of sabotage by Kiev?
Zakharchenko: Local elections are necessary for us not only because they are specified in the Minsk Agreement, but also because they may be a significant step towards the political settlement of our conflict with Kiev. We need these elections in order to continue the process of state building and, in the end, to improve the living standards of our people. Therefore, we will conduct them.
With regard to Kiev, it is necessary to understand a few things. First Kiev does not need local elections in Donbass, because they know they will lose them to us. This is evident not only sociologically, but also from the election results in those areas of the Donetsk Republic [ie Donetsk Oblast] that are still occupied by Kiev. It follows from this second point: Kiev will look for any pretext to disrupt the first negotiations on the modalities of the election, and then the election itself. We know that. As we know, along with the whole world, the elections must be preceded by other steps, which are set out in the Package of Measures.
Let me remind you again that the Package of Measures is a “road map”—signed by Kiev—that presupposes a certain sequence of steps. Relatively speaking, to get from point “A” to point “E”, you can only pass through the points “B”, “C” and “D”. So, as long as Kiev does not follow the above steps, setting up negotiations on the modalities of the elections will be just talk.
But we understand, and agree to it. So let’s discuss the modalities of the election, and while discussing them, imagine that Kiev follows the preceding steps of the Package of Measures, and performs them honestly. Kiev may not have to take a decision on amnesty, because they plan to deprive all our negotiators of citizenship. Poroshenko has suggested this [deprivation of citizenship], and has even given instructions to the government.
So then Kiev will say that they have fulfilled the conditions of the Complex of Measures, but cannot conduct negotiations with stateless persons. And what is more, these stateless persons cannot themselves take part in elections.
From the above, I hope it is clear what we expect in the way of sabotage by Kiev on the issue of elections, as on other issues. But we will make every effort to force Kiev to fulfill all the conditions prescribed in the Complex of Measures.