The ringleaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) have demanded that certain conditions be met before local elections can be held. In particular, they want to be involved in the formulation of the new law on the special status of the Donbas that was announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
“Otherwise we will consider them a direct and gross violation of the Minsk Agreements, and they will be legally null and void to us. We want to warn Mr. Zelensky against reckless actions. If he wants to attain a peaceful coexistence with the DPR and LPR, let him enter into direct dialog with us,” said Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, heads of the Russian occupation administrations in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
The separatist leaders also said that Ukraine will not be given control over the border with Russia.
“We urge Mr. Zelensky not to dictate the terms to us. When he says that the elections in the Donbas will only be held after Ukraine obtains control over the border, he doesn’t understand that it isn’t up to him to decide when we hold elections, but up to us,” the ringleaders said in a statement published by the separatist media.
“We will determine ourselves what language to speak, what our economy will be like, how our judicial system will be formed, how our People’s Militia will protect our citizens and how we will integrate with Russia,” the militants said.
On October 1, representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) and of the DPR and LPR agreed to implement the so-called “Steinmeier Formula” in Ukrainian legislation. The Ukrainian representatives refused to sign the same document as the separatist representatives, and so it was done as separate letters addressed to the OSCE, one of the parties in the TCG.
The formula envisages a special status for the Donbas that will take temporary effect on the day that snap local elections are held there. The law will remain in effect permanently if the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights reports that the elections were held democratically.