November 17, 2015 –
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
Kiev is not even trying to fulfill the provisions of the Minsk Agreements. The ceasefire in Donbass is violated regularly. Now, the defeat of Kiev in economic competition with the people’s republics is already obvious. Ukraine has been plunged into the economic chaos of permanent default while the republics are engaged in active state building.
The official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Konstantin Dolgov, discussed these topics as well as the complexities of the post-war situation of Ukraine with PolitNavigator’s Valentin Filippov…
Valentin Filippov: Tell us, Konstantin. On the internet right now, there is one thing after another. Have serious firefights, more than just small local skirmishes, really started in Donetsk?
Konstantin Dolgov: It is not possible to speak of local skirmishes because any firing of shots is a violation of the Minsk agreements, and since August 24, when the president of Ukraine flew to visit Merkel, he returned and everything stopped, evens shelling and small arms firing. The last few months have been fairly calm. Now that I am a resident of Donetsk, I feel and hear things, and yesterday I was close to the former donetsk airport, and there was some fairly perceptible noise. I understand that it was small arms firing. I read in the Donetsk press what our military is saying, that Ukrainian servicemen have started to enjoy shelling the ruins of the Donetsk airport again. Of course, this is a breach of those agreements that were reached at Minsk. But we’re not talking about anything that is systemic. And, most importantly, volley fire and mortars are not being used, except for a few cases that are disturbing and depressing.
VF: I noticed that, first of all, these aggravations mainly start up with international negotiations. Just the other day, the Normandy quartet met and simultaneously, immediately, a number of provocations began. And whenever the negotiation process somewhere in Europe ends, then everything calms down a bit.
Unfortunately, in the mainstream media, there is very little coverage of what is happening with the Minsk format. That is, there are contact groups, and they could at least give some kind of consultation…
Now, these consultations – have they been stalled?
Or are they ongoing as was planned?
What is being discussed?
KD: As regards the agenda of the these days and the agreements that were reached, then, undoubtedly, it is depressing that, and this is no secret, the Ukrainian side, as regards fulfilling the specific points of the Minsk agreements, is quite slow. Because there are many points, but for some reason they believe that the main point is restoring control over the border, but this is the last point. I’ll remind our audience that the Minsk agreements imply a phased implementation, and the first thing is undoubtedly a ceasefire. The second is the withdrawal of weapons. And so on. Then amnesty, the adoption of a law on a special status, and other points.
VF: Well, yes.
KD: And to this day, Ukraine, and this is depressing for us, has not taken the slightest of steps in order to begin discussing how Ukraine will fulfill its obligations. And there is a very important provision which concerns what is perhaps a third of the population of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. I’m talking about pensioners and the resumption of welfare on the territory of the DPR and LPR. I recall that, since July of last year, Kiev stopped all payments, turned off the banking system, and so on. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without pensions. If we speak about the LPR included, then this is more than a million pensioners. Not to mention salaries for state employees and investments in infrastructure.
VF: But Kiev simply doesn’t have this money today. If even they wanted to have it, they have a default, actually…
KD:..Of course, we understand all the difficulties which face the Ukrainian side. But these are our people, our pensioners. We will do our best to ensure that Kiev pays them their money. We believe that this money has been stolen. People worked for years not only in Ukraine, but when it was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. They were removed from the pension fund. This was all Kiev. Kiev appropriated for itself all of this, and the regions were returned however much Kiev saw fit: some miserable crumbs. As a result, Kiev is the rich capital. They feel themselves to have blue blood and white bones while everyone else is considered to be third class people.
Well, that’s just not right.
Naturally, we are skeptical towards Ukraine’s implementation of the Minsk agreements. If you ask my personal opinion, not as an official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the DPR or as a civil servant, but my personal opinion, then I believe that Ukraine is unable to fulfill the Minsk agreements. In addition, I believe that it doesn’t want to fully comply with them. There are points which suit Ukraine, in particular the return of control over the border, but Ukraine doesn’t want to do anything for this.
VF: Well, returning control over the border is the last point and it was agreed upon last. It shouldn’t be fulfilled any earlier…
KD: That is absolutely correct. And, besides that, look at the timing. Look how much time it took the Ukrainian side just to stop shooting and killing people. It took flying to Merkel in Berlin…
VF: More than half a year.
KD:…Yes, more than half a year. But, I’ll remind the audience that, according to the Minsk agreements, two weeks were set aside for this. That is, by the end of February, 2015. On February 12, they signed the Minsk agreements. They were supposed to stop firing by the end of February. But this didn’t happen. Only now can we talk, and only now can we deal with the second point in fulfilling the Minsk agreements.
VF: This is withdrawing.
KD: This is the withdrawing of troops. On our side, everything has been done. The Ukrainian side has been taking its time, and we see in the press, including in the Ukrainian press, negative publications which suggest that Ukraine has fully complied with this provision…Of course, this can’t not disturb us, can’t not disturb the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.
VF:…In my opinion, it’s just a matter of waiting for a complete change of the Ukrainian leadership. And, it’s likely, that there won’t be a change in Ukraine’s leadership, but rather its disintegration.
Then they will already agree to ending the war and the Donetsk People’s Republic will negotiate with the Dnepropetrovsk People’s Republic. Without Kiev. They’ll figure it out themselves. And there is already the problem of how the Dnepropetrovsk People’s Republic will negotiate with Kiev. In my opinion, there is no other way here.
KD: In my personal opinion, I believe that this entire situation has, unfortunately, come to stay for a while. Of course, I would like everything to happen at once, but that just doesn’t happen, it’s true. Even if we assume that tomorrow Kiev will dare to go on an offensive, then it will get a slap in the face, and will be plucked away by our counter-offensive, and the head of our republic, Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko, already spoke about this. A counter-offensive doesn’t have anywhere to stop. But even if we assume that we have won (we, naturally, want to win, and we so desire), that all of the territory is ours, that democratic elections will be held, well, in fact, this is a very protracted process because those who unleashed civil war are the biggest criminals and they, undoubtedly, should be punished for the crimes they’ve committed. What they’ve done is horrible.
VF: Well, the war will forever be in people’s consciousness. This is understandable, even if the generation changes. This is always the case.
KD: That’s absolutely right.
VF: Experience shows that it will take a minimum of 20 years before people will be able to live together.
KD: People who directly took part in combat operations, who shelled Donetsk and Lugansk – of course, these people are war criminals. They should be held responsible for their actions. But who called these people forward? Who fueled the fire of civil war? Who sowed hatred? Who promoted intolerance towards another language, towards people with different political and ideological views?
I’m saying that this includes Ukrainian journalists..
Do you understand that this is a terrible situation?
VF: Yes, I understand.
KD: It requires resolution, but not any simple resolution. Maybe an unpopular one. A resolution which, maybe, has yet to be thought up. Because it is not clear what we should do with them.
Tomorrow, they’ll tell us: “Well, sorry guys. This was the editorial policy…”
VF: Well, yes.
KD: Yes. “Calling for the burning of kolorady and killing separatists?” “Yeah, that was the deal.”
VF: Well, they attacked.
KD: “Well, come on, I’ll pay a fine. 150 hryvnia.” Right… “They told me that they attacked, but I didn’t figure it out. I didn’t check. I never went to Donetsk.” They didn’t see what is happening here with their own eyes.
What will happen with these people then? They’ll change outfits?
KD: Roll over and sing the anthem of the Donetsk People’s Republic?
KD: Well, I’m convinced that this will last for a while. We have a tremendous amount of work to do. And everything is only beginning. And? The most important is that nothing is lost, and that there are positive developments in state building, and I’m referring to the Donetsk People’s Republic and its residents for the benefit of whom I work. I see that the economy is rising. I see that people are getting salaries, and pensioners are getting pensions. We expect, and we hope for a re-indexing of wages and pensions, for their growth, for the growth of the prosperity of our citizens.
It’s warm in Donetsk. There is hot water. Communal utilities are available. In general, what can we say? We already live better than in Ukraine. And God forbid that we will not be equal to Ukraine when we speak about our successes in terms of the economic and social development of the state.
VF: Well, that’s good. I wish you success. And I wish that the territories of the people’s republics, in accordance with logic, will return to the borders of the regions where people voted in the referendum.
KD: Moreover, they are waiting for us. Thank you. And it will be so!
VF: Alright, thanks. Goodbye.