October 15, 2015 –
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
“Igor Plotnitsky: If the people of the LPR’s will is to vote for joining Russia, we won’t oppose this – exclusive interview with head of the republic for ‘Russian Spring’”
A “Russian Spring” correspondent, along with his colleague from “Ukraina.ru”, Aleksandr Chalenko, chatted with the head of the Lugansk People’s Republic about the prospects of LPR’s integration with Russia and the forthcoming issuing of Russian passports.
In September, on the website of the Lugansk Information Center, the head of the Perevalsky district of the LPR, Vitaly Mikhailov, said that he was approached by residents of the district with the idea of creating a movement for the accession of LPR to Russia. What is your attitude towards this initiative? How would you respond to a possible plebiscite if Lugansk residents initiated it?
Government is primarily an instrument which the people not only can, but are obliged to use. If the people have such a wish, if the people are ready and want to carry out such a will and express their view point, I, as the person who ensures the will of the people and acts as its guarantor, say: We will certainly support it. A plebiscite demonstrates for us what the people want, which ideas they support, and which paths they see for the further development of our republics.
That is, you don’t deny the possibility of such a plebiscite?
If the people want it, I simply don’t have the right to deny such a possibility.
In your speech in Lugansk at the opening of the round table “The path of the integration of Donbass into Russia,” you revealed the latest sociological data which reveals that the number of citizens of the LPR who have the desire for the republic to become part of Russia has increased three times from 20% to 60% in the past year and a half. Can it be said that the majority of Lugansk residents want to join Russia, and that you personally support this aspiration?
As a person, I don’t only support it, but I fully share this desire, because it was not born here and now, but was born much earlier. Unforunately, the situation in which we now find ourselves makes most people, even those who never thought about it before, choose this.
The people of Lugansk used to live well. Russia here or Ukraine there – they didn’t think about it. But today, after all the well-known bloody events and the point of no return, the people already don’t see and don’t feel themselves to be part of Ukraine. The people understand very well who is a brother and who is an enemy, who lends a friendly hand, and who trips them.
Therefore, if the people wish, we will necessarily try to learn the will of the people. Everyone can express their opinion on the republic’s integration into Russia.
Can you confirm or deny information about the issuing of Russian passports in the LPR? If this will happen, will issuing points be opened or will they be given out in a different way?
First of all, the Russian Federation must clearly express its wish to issue passports to the citizens of the LPR and DPR, and there are many on the territory of the LPR and DPR who very much wish to obtain Russian passports.
Yesterday, when crossing the Russian-Lugansk border, we saw long lines of cars and trucks. Does the LPR plan to appeal to the Russian Federation to open additional border crossing points?
Why plan to open additional crossing points, when we have a common territory with Russia of more than 700 kilometers. We should at least return our northern areas, and we will have a sufficient number of crossing points.
Therefore, are you implying that there will be an offensive?
I am saying that we will not leave our territories and our people under occupation.
In one interview, you noted that many people who were never in Donbass during the war constantly speak and write about the “ditching of Novorossiya.” You aptly termed them “couch kittens.”
Usually, I call couch kittens those people who don’t want to see reality, and they feed on the negative which doesn’t exist in reality, but only in virtual reality. The negative only lives on the internet. These are common fantasies which have no relation to reality. They confuse reality with fantasies.
In the olden days, it was said that “anyone who has ever walked around a house is smarter than one who lays by the hearth.” In order to confirm or refute one or another view, if people have such a desire, the LPR border is always open. I want to say to these couch kittens, whoever wants to find out what’s in fact happening here: come and see.
But if you were never here, and you undertake a discussion of what’s happening here, for example, about how our political situation is developing – this is wrong.
You only confuse minds with baseless statements.
Developing this topic, many heads of regions in Russia in which there were problems, like in Ingushetia and Chechnya, invited bloggers to their republics. After visiting these territories, their opinions changed. How open is Lugansk for such citizen journalists?
It is not simply open – it was always open the entire time. Everything is voluntary here, even joining the Armed Forces of the LPR. How can we limit the desire of people to come here and see everything? Just look and draw your own conclusions – how we live here, what we’re fighting against, whom we are fighting against, what we stand for, and what we aspire to. We will always joyfully receive such people.
And Ukrainian journalists can come?
They can come and they do come. But few come.
You have been head of the LPR for almost a year. State building has been going on here for already a year. Is Makhnovshhcina [a reference to the chaos and disorganization characteristic of Ukrainian anarchist groups in the Russian Civil War aligned with Nestor Makhno – J. Arnoldski] over in the republic?
This depends on what you mean by the term “Makhnovshchina.” If you remember history, Makhno at first helped the Reds and was even awarded one of the first orders of the Red Banner.
In a sense, Makhnovshchina was in the LPR in the very beginning. We had separate groups of volunteers who at their own risk protected the borders of the republic. But now we already don’t have this Makhnovshchina.
Now, we have a united army, which is fully equipped, in which fighters are carrying out collaborative exercises, and different kinds of troops have already “clicked” together in carrying out these collaborative exercises.
Many journalists were there and saw at what stage the construction of the Armed Forces of the LPR is at. There is no more Makhnovshchina.
And how is peaceful construction going?
There is a big difference between speaking and seeing, and if you have a few extra hours, I recommend that you go and see – I’m not afraid to use the word – the construction site of national significance. In this case, I mean the Elizavetinsky reservoir. We want to give water to two cities – Krasnaya Lucha and Antratsita. You will see the enthusiasm of the builders and the amount of work we’ve done. This is our Suez canal, the construction of which will give our people the opportunity to get through winter, and also 20,000 cubic meters reversed back from Alchevsk. Bryanka, Stakhanov, and Perevalsk will receive additional water.
In autumn, we will be able to supply all power and get through winter normally, no longer afraid that when the Ukrainians will start more shelling, that we will have a humanitarian catastrophe. Yes, we still won’t have enough water for full volume, but it will already be our water, the supply of which will not depend on someone else’s desires, but rather on our own hands and a willingness to labor, work, and recover.
You have been sanctioned by the Ukrainian side. How do you respond to this?
And what about sanctions?
You are not allowed to enter the territory of Ukraine, to get an education, to be treated…Are you very upset?
I graduated from school in Ukraine, and received my first higher education in Russia, and second in Ukraine.
You know, some people confuse education with culture.
Secondly, today the education system is so mobile, that people can get an education being in an entirely different countries.
The question here is different: what can current Ukrainian teachers teach? The basics of new, Maidan “democracy?” The basics of a new history which tells of the Banderite “heroes,” thus forcing us to forget our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who lie in graves, and whose monuments are being taken down by these new Ukrainian “teachers” while they burn books and pit languages and cultures that cannot and must not fight against themselves? In Ukraine today, I have nothing to learn.
And hatred – this is the class which doesn’t require exercises. It would be better to teach mercy and forgiveness.
In Kiev, they recently celebrated the birthday of Lugansk – 220 years. Someone had the right idea – let them get used to the fact that Lugansk will soon be in Kiev.
You once said that there will be no Minsk-3, but maybe only a new cauldron. Poroshenko is doing everything in order to not fulfill the Minsk Agreements. What is their perspective and destiny in this case?
If earlier we spoke about a new cauldron, then now I am convinced that if Ukraine will leave the Minsk format, then a new cauldron awaits it, and final and unconditional surrender.
Therefore, so as to avoid the worst for Ukraine – collapse and surrender – let them use the opportunity that the international community headed by Russia has given them.
Ukraine should think again and make a life for the people which is acceptable, and do what the people, and not the oligarchs, want.