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On January 19, Prime Minister Alexandr Zakharchenko of the Donetsk Peoples Republic met with Liudmila Anatoliyevna, the mother of a Ukrainian soldier, Vladimir, who has been taken prisoner by DPR self defense forces.  Vladimir, Liudmila’s son, was  present for the discussion. A seven-minute recording of the prime minister’s words to Liudmila was broadcast by Oplot TV. To view it, click on the weblink or on the screen below.

Alexandr Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of Donetsk Peoples Republic

Alexandr Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of Donetsk Peoples Republic

Zakharchenko began by reading to the couple a list of Ukraine army losses between January 13 and 19 in the area of Donetsk city, according to Ukraine army reports. These were 972 killed, 476 missing in action, 244 vehicles damaged or destroyed and 512 artillery weapons destroyed. The prime minister goes on to explain that the Ukrainian army has brought three mobile crematoriums to their military zone in Donetsk/Donbas. He says that is because cremated Ukrainian soldiers will be reported as ‘missing in action’.

Zakharchenko tells Liudmila Anatoliyevna that the hatred and ill-will being created by the government in Kyiv and the political forces supporting it against the people of the Donbas is an “illness”. He assures her that he is not the stooge of Russia that Kyiv paints him and the autonomy movement of Donetsk to be. He says, “Our only ‘guilt’ is that we were the only region [of Ukraine] to put up a worthy resistance to the armed coup in Kiev [in February 2014]”.

Liudmila and Vladimir were to leave Donetsk the following day. Zakharchnko offers a word of advice to Liudmila, “as one parent to another”. Send your son to another country, he says.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen to him there [back home in Ukraine], but somehow, I think it will not be good.”

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