By New Cold War.org, July 6, 2015
The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have announced they will hold local elections on October 18 and November 1, respectively. The two dates surround announced local elections to take place in Ukraine on October 25.
Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko make his announcement on July 2. According to UNIAN News, heads of cities and districts will be elected. No decision on the election of members of local councils has been made yet.
Lugansk People’s Republic Prime Minister Igor Plotnitsky announced on July 6 that similar local elections will take place there on November 1.
Interfax reports Zakharchenko as explaining, “In today’s situation, which emerged through Kyiv’s fault, the Donetsk People’s Republic has to independently start to implement the Minsk agreements in order to rescue them.
“We will begin acting immediately, without waiting for Kyiv to come to its senses and return to real, not fake, talks, because any further procrastination and delays will benefit only the Ukrainian party of war.”
Plotnitsky’s statement said, “Recently, we concluded that Ukraine doesn’t intend to abide by its commitments. Kiev either breaks or pretends to execute the provisions of the Minsk Agreement. The Verkhovna Rada issues bills not consistent with our draft documents on matters affecting the Donbass. To date, they’ve refused to define the special status of the LPR, nor have they even begun to write the laws embodying that special status. Besides that, with each passing day, Kiev intensifies its blockade of the LPR.”
“From such a perspective, we decided to begin a unilateral implementation of the Minsk Agreement regarding local elections in the LPR.”
The two prime ministers are referring to the failure of the Kyiv government to respect clauses of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of Feb. 12, 2015 requiring dialogue with the rebel regions of Donetsk and Lugansk as well as a decentralization of powers to them.
The announcements by the two people’s republics administrations are in response to an elaborate scheme by the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to dodge the key provisions of Minsk-2 requiring talks and constitutional change.
Back in May, at the eighth Kiev Security Forum, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s prime minister made it clear they will not engage in talks. “We will hold a dialogue with Donbass, but with the other Donbass, a Ukrainian one,” Poroshenko said. He went on, “We must ensure fair elections.”
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said his government would never talk to the current representatives in Donbas. “We will communicate only with the legitimate representatives of this region, we want to hold legitimate elections there.”
Yatsenyuk provocatively said his government would talk to leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics “only when they are behind bars”. He added, “By the way, we have got enough empty prison cells.”
Instead of talks, the Ukraine government convened a Constitutional Commission in April. That body is set to deliver its draft report to the Verkhovna Rada this week. It will propose some cosmetic decentralization changes, but crucially, the changes will deny any present or future recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. The constitutional changes will be sold to international public opinion as proof of compliance with Minsk-2.
Poroshenko earlier announced local elections for October 25 as part of the scheme. Donetsk and Lugansk republics will, of course, refuse to allow a government in Kyiv waging war on them to conduct elections on their territories. This will be sold as proof of their intransigence and impossibility of dialogue with them.
In his July 2 announcement, reports TASS, Zakharchenko saying that Kiev’s unilateral actions on adopting amendments to Ukraine’s constitution serve as evidence that “the Kiev regime has de facto exited the Minsk peace process”.
“Under the circumstances,” he said, “the Donetsk People’s Republic has to start implementing the Minsk agreements itself in order to save them.”
The following day, the DPR head responded to an orchestrated statement by U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden criticizing the Oct. 18 election decision. Zakharchenko said, reports TASS, “The U.S. Vice President has most likely not studied the issue thoroughly. I doubt that he has even read the Minsk package of measures. And Poroshenko is distorting facts as usual.”
He continued, “If Biden is really concerned about the future of the Minsk accords, than he should make Poroshenko and Groysman [Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada] implement them.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement on July 3 saying his government is deeply disappointed with what it calls the failure of the Ukrainian government to respect provisions of Minsk-2. He said, “Russia is deeply concerned about Kiev’s inability and unwillingness to fulfill its commitments to coordinate with Donetsk and Lugansk modalities of conducting local elections and its inability to attract representatives of the self-proclaimed republics to drawing up a new constitution.”
Lavrov said that Poroshenko’s and Yatsenyuk’s government has written a new, draft constitution without participation of Donetsk and Lugansk representatives. This “does not fulfill any of the requirements of the Minsk agreements with regard to this document.”
The draft “does not reflect the tasks of ensuring a special status for these territories on a permanent basis and does not reflect the tasks of decentralization of power,” as envisaged in the peace deal reached in the Belarusian capital in February.