Very optimistic comments followed both from Ukraine and from Russia, as well as from the EU, immediately after the decision of the DNR and LNR to postpone the local elections planned in the republics. Poroshenko even declared the beginning of the return of the Donbass to Ukraine “without occupation armies”. What does the decision of the unrecognized republics of Novorossiya actually mean?
Originally appeared at VZ, translated by Carpatho-Russian exclusively for SouthFront
The Donetsk and Lugansk national republics agreed to postpone until 2016 the local elections which had been planned earlier for October 18 and on November 1, respectively, this year. Thus the Donbass agreed with the key condition which had been put forward at the October 2 Paris meeting of the “Normandy Four” .
It is impossible to conduct elections earlier than February–March, if Poroshenko is going to fulfill these requirements
Here, the envoys of the DPR and LPR in the Contact Group, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deynego, demanded from Kiev full implementation of the Minsk agreements. It is important that one of the conditions for postponing elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk National Republics is cancellation by the Ukrainian authorities of the so-called anti-terrorist operation (ATO). A source close to negotiations reported on this.
In a special statement, representatives of the DPR and LPR emphasized: “We note with satisfaction that the proposal of the LNR to postpone elections in Donbass until February 21, 2016 with the condition of full implementation by Kiev of the political points of Minsk 2 has been considered by the Normandy Four. We studied the statements and recommendations of Madame Merkel and Mister Hollande. Here today, in Minsk, consultations were conducted with representatives of the OSCE and Russia. We have received instructions from our leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky”.
“The political settlement has not moved one step since February ”
Deynego and Pushilin noted that the Minsk agreements include first of all granting Donbass special status. In addition, the Kiev authorities are obligated not to allow prosecutions and punishments of persons who have participated in events in the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, and also to vote for amendments to the Constitution in a new version, to be coordinated with the DPR and LPR. “We consider that the draft of the special law on elections, as well as drafts of amendments in the Constitution of Ukraine and other acts, must be initialed by all participants of the Minsk negotiations”, as noted in the text.
According to Pushilin and Deynego, “if during the vote in the Verkhovna Rada, or for other reasons, the coordinated text will be changed, we will consider that as a crude and unacceptable violation of the Package of Measures”.
Representatives of the republics emphasized that “we are ready to work together with all participants of the Minsk negotiations over coordination of the draft of the special law on elections. But this work can be continued only after official approval of the regulations of the Contact Group and the working groups. It is essential to fix on the record both disagreements and compromises. And to accurately understand which decision to consider coordinated and which is not”. According to Pushilin and Deynego, “the absence of officially issued and published decisions has led to the situation that Kiev even until today has either directly sabotaged performance of the Minsk agreements, or has made unilateral decisions perverting their sense”. “The political settlement has not moved one step since February “, they summarized.
“The path to the return of Donbass to Ukraine”
Kiev, which also welcomed the postponement of elections, reacted to Pushilin and Deynego’s statement. Darya Olifer, press secretary of the representative of Kiev in the tripartite Contact Group on regulating the situation in Donbass, reported on this.
“This step will provide the opportunity to conduct honest, lawful, and fair elections in the separate regions of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts based eon the election law of Ukraine, and taking into account OSCE requirements that completely correspond to the Minsk agreements and the arrangements reached by leaders of the countries of the Normandy Four in Paris on October 2”, thinks Olifer.
Later the Ukrainian President Peter Poroshenko declared that this development of events opens the path to the return of Donbass to Ukraine “by means of elections according to Ukrainian law, on the basis of OSCE standards, and, of course, without occupation armies”.
And the representative of Kiev in the subgroup on humanitarian affairs, Irina Gerashchenko, expressed the opinion that the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada must determine the date of elections in Donetsk and Lugansk .
“Example of a flexible approach”
The Kremlin also welcomed this decision of the DPR and LPR. “This is one more example of a flexible and constructive approach in the interests of implementing the Minsk arrangements”, said the press secretary of the president of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, to Interfax .
The European Union also did not hide its positive emotions. The statement of the official representative of head of diplomacy of EU, Federica Mogherini, stated that this “will allow the creation of conditions for vote preparation properly, and gives hope for the steady political resolution of the conflict”. A positive assessment was also provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany and the president of France François Hollande.
Let us recall that on Friday in Paris there was a meeting of the leaders of the countries of the Normandy Four — Russia, France, Ukraine, and the German Chancellor — on settling the situation in Ukraine. Hollande and Merkel declared, following the results of the summit, that the parties agreed about the need to postpone elections.
Hollande noted that elections in the east of Ukraine can not come earlier than in three months, as that is the time required to change the Ukrainian election law and vote preparation in such manner as to correspond to norms of the OSCE.
On September 16, the head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, despite pressure from Kiev, declared that he had set elections for local authorities of the Donetsk National Republic for October 18, and the head of the LNR, Igor Plotnitsky, set a date for elections for November 1. With this, the Ukrainian authorities set elections for local agencies for October 25.
The president of the Ukrainian Center of System Analysis and Forecasting, Rostislav Ishchenko, is convinced that, whether elections in LPR and DPR take place next year depends not on the decision of Ukraine to cancel the ATO, but from performance by Kiev of the requirements which were announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the results of negotiations of the Normandy Four in Paris last week. In this regard, he is certain that it is premature to speak about the beginning of the return of the Donbass to Ukraine.
“It was precisely stated: introduction of real, not fake, changes into the Constitution of Ukraine that presupposes decentralization”, said Ishchenko to the newspaper VZGLYAD.
According to him, in order to implement the requirements, Kiev needs an extended period, not less than half a year. “Earlier than February – March, if Poroshenko is given the task to fulfill these requirements, it is impossible to carry out elections. Therefore I think that elections will be postponed. This will allow postponing the Minsk process to 2016, which Poroshenko wanted to “cut off” this year already. Therefore if the requirement to cancel ATO was put forward, it will be removed. He could advance the ATO on the spur of the moment”, believes the expert.
In this regard, Ishchenko is convinced that nobody in the DPR and LPR expects that Poroshenko will execute all of Merkel’s requirements. “Simply, in half a year it will be possible to ask Madame Chancellor:” What will we do now with Poroshenko, since he deceived you? You demanded, and he refused”, predicts the expert.
Elections can be carried out even earlier
As to the possibility of holding elections in the self-proclaimed republics, Ishchenko is sure that technically they can take place. “It will depend on the development of the political situation. If it becomes obvious that Kiev is not fulfilling the requirements put forward to it in Paris, and if France and Germany take a more hard line, elections can be carried out even earlier. But for today the Minsk format is valuable. Poroshenko only spoke against postponing negotiations to 2016. The very fact of postponing elections to next year — and Kiev did agreed to this – already extends the Minsk format”, explained the expert.
As to Peter Poroshenko’s further actions, Ishchenko believes that, in order to implement all requirements, it must first of all withdraw the old bill regarding amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine and bring a new one, conduct it through two readings during the autumn and winter sessions of the Verkhovna Rada, and “make changes in parallel to the accompanying legislation”.
“This must all be coordinated with Donetsk and Lugansk. Then, in accordance with the Minsk agreements, it will be possible to hold elections — to carry them out based on Ukrainian law (which will in fact cease to be operative in Donbass, because granting to Donbass special status means cancellation of the effect of Ukrainian laws in Donbass)”, notes Rostislav Ishchenko.
But, according to the interlocutor, it is unreal to expect that Poroshenko will fulfill all this. “But this will be Poroshenko’s problem, and he should have a talk with Merkel who has taken a hard line. What Poroshenko submitted as fulfillment of the Minsk points, is actually not”, the expert adds. “This is the officially declared position of Germany. Now let him explain to Berlin”.
“There will be peace in Ukraine”
In turn the director of the “International Institute of the Newest States”, Alexey Martynov, agrees that postponement of elections for the next year automatically prolongs the Minsk agreements.
The political scientist is convinced that Kiev should now actively carry out the Minsk agreements, “because Kiev has no time any longer to delay this implementation” and there are possibilities “to stall and be covered with curators from Washington”. “This last week, especially after the summit in Paris, it is clear that this process has obtained movement, and there has appeared a timid yet sure hope that the Minsk arrangements will be implemented and there will be peace in Ukraine”, said the political scientist to the newspaper VZGLYAD, adding that the requirement from DPR and LPR that the ATO stop also corresponds to the execution by Kiev of all points of the Minsk arrangements, and “correspondingly, if we speak about the honorable observance of agreements, the ATO will be canceled”.