The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic carries out its activities on the basis of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Regulation on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic, approved by Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk People’s Republic of May 31, 2016 No. 7-20, guided by the laws of the DPR, normative legal acts of the Chapter Donetsk People’s Republic and the Government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as well as international treaties of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
In 2020, in connection with the high alert mode to prevention of the coronavirus infection proliferation, the activities format of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was maintained accordingly. Despite this, in 2020 it was possible to achieve a number of significant results within the framework of the Republican foreign policy vector implementation.
Despite the isolation measures and the global pandemic, in which all countries of the world were in 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to work on the development and implementation of the state policy of the Donetsk People's Republic in the field of international relations, the coordination of the foreign policy of the Republic, the establishment and strengthening of existing international contacts and protection of the interests of the Donetsk People's Republic and its citizens.
The most important international event for the Republic in 2020 was the participation at the UN Security Council meeting according to the Arria formula on the topic “Implementation of the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures to settle the situation in Ukraine: a year after the Paris Normandy Format summit”. For the first time, we had the opportunity to speak at the key diplomatic platform of the world, thanks to which we were able to break Kiev's absolute monopoly on coverage of events and tell a wide audience around the world about the real situation in Donbass and in the Minsk negotiation process.
I would like to note that the UN Security Council meeting was attended by delegations from 17 countries, of which 2 countries have the status of permanent members and 7 are non-permanent ones, and the rest are UN member states. We saw a real interest and desire to find out the truth about the state of affairs even against the background of an attempt to disrupt the meeting organized by Ukraine and supported by the guarantor countries of the Minsk agreements. We are infinitely grateful to the diplomatic corps of Russia and in particular to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN, at whose invitation we were able to participate at this meeting. I can safely say that our reputation as reliable partners in fulfilling our international legal obligations is becoming more and more obvious to the international community.
As for the development of relations between the Donetsk People's Republic and the Russian Federation, the Ministry made every possible effort to expand and accelerate integration processes with Russia. With the assistance of the Ministry, a number of events were held in 2020 with the participation of officials of the Russian Federation, within the framework of which a new impetus was given to strengthening social and cultural ties between the residents of Donbass and Russia.
A stable progress can be noted in relations between the Donetsk People's Republic and the main foreign policy partners: the Lugansk People's Republic, the Republic of South Ossetia, and the Republic of Abkhazia. Largely thanks to the efforts of the Ministry, the mechanism of interaction with these states and their individual departments is now clearly adjusted, which makes it possible to effectively develop both new areas of cooperation and deepen existing ones.
Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took part in organizing the visit of the Donetsk People's Republic delegation to the Republic of South Ossetia to celebrate the 30th anniversary of independence of South Ossetia in September 2020. Within the framework of this visit, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia D. Medoev. The parties discussed the most topical issues of bilateral relations between the Republics.
Before to the introduction of restrictions, the Donetsk People's Republic in February - March 2020 was visited by delegations from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Italian Republic, the Lugansk People's Republic.
In addition, with the assistance of the Ministry, in February 2020, a delegation of the Donetsk People's Republic paid a business visit to the Syrian Arab Republic, during which a meeting was held with a member of the Central Leadership of the Arab Socialist Party "Ba’ath" Dr. Mahdi Dahlallah.
For well-known reasons, visits of foreign guests to the Donetsk People's Republic on the occasion of the Republic Day celebration did not take place, however, the Ministry received video congratulations on the 6th anniversary of the independence of the Donetsk People's Republic from the President of the Republic of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov, the Head of the Lugansk People's Republic Leonid Pasechnik, the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksenov, Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Radiy Khabirov, deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Andrey Kozenko and Kazbek Taisaiev, members of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Tsekov and Sergey Mamedov, deputy of the Parliament of the Czech Republic from the Communist Party of the Czech Republic and Moravia Zdenek Ondracek, deputy Berlin Parliament Gunnar Lindemann, heads of the DPR Representative Center in Turin Maurizio Marrone and Elizo Bertolasi, head of the DPR Representative Center in Helsinki Johan Bäckman, head of the DPR Representative Center in the Kingdom of Belgium Kris Roman, head of the public organization “People's Diplomacy of Norway” Hendrik Weber, head of the French public organization "West-East" Nikola Mirkovich, chairman of the American public organization "Institute for Progress Through Law" Kline Preston and many others.
As for the work of the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of public diplomacy and the development of the image of the Republic in the international community, the Ministry transferred part of its work to the media space.
Together with the Representative Centers of the Donetsk People's Republic in Italy, Greece, Finland, Belgium in 2020, more than 20 information and humanitarian actions, cultural and educational events were held, contributing to the dissemination of truthful information about the real situation in the Donetsk People's Republic.
One of the most important such events was the holding on the International Children's Day of the already traditional action "Angels", dedicated to the memory of Donbass dead children. In 2020, like-minded people from the United States of America, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Serbia, Latvia, Pakistan and Bangladesh joined this event.
Also, the Ministry continued to work on expanding its representation in foreign countries. Thus, negotiations were held with representatives of a number of countries of Western and Southeastern Europe, South Asia, North America on the opening of new representative centers of the Donetsk People's Republic. However, restrictions related to countering the spread of coronavirus infection temporarily suspended this process.
In addition, since January 2020, the work of the Ministry in the information sphere has been brought to a new level. Weekly news about the political and socio-economic situation in the Republic, as well as up-to-date information about the Minsk negotiation process are sent to several dozen our foreign partners for dissemination through the available information channels.
The process of forming the Republican diplomatic personnel potential can be positively assessed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also contributed to the training of qualified personnel in the DPR, whose employees throughout 2020 shared knowledge in the field of international law, international relations, diplomatic protocol and etiquette with students of the “Legatus” Youth Diplomacy Centre.
In 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to play a central role in representing the interests of the Donetsk People's Republic in the Minsk negotiation process to settle the conflict. So, in 2020, 23 meetings of the Contact Group and its working groups were held. Since March 2020, in connection with restrictive measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, meetings have been held in the format of a video conference.
For our part, we have done everything possible to achieve at least elementary progress on the most pressing and priority issues: first of all, to achieve a stable ceasefire regime. And, it should be noted, sometimes these attempts were relatively successful. In particular, after two years of discussions and 6 official requests to the OSCE coordinators, in July 2020 we were able to sign measures to strengthen the ceasefire.
This was a great achievement not only because of the efforts that we made to force the Ukrainian side to agree on these agreements, but also because of their effectiveness: for almost two months of their operation, there were no casualties or significant destruction. Nevertheless, already in September 2020, Kiev unilaterally withdrew from these agreements, refusing to fulfill the fundamental point - interaction within the framework of the coordination mechanism to verify violations. The destructive result of the disavowal of measures by the Ukrainian party did not take long to wait: the armed formations of Ukraine resumed shelling of our territory, there were cases of death of servicemen of the DPR People's Militia, injuries of civilians, numerous damage to housing and infrastructure.
Within the framework of the political group, the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics jointly prepared and sent 8 draft documents. Active work was underway to agree on the draft law on Donbass special status before the adoption by the parliament of Ukraine of Resolution No. 795 of 15.07.2020 "On the appointment of the next local elections in 2020", which contradicts the Minsk agreements. After the adoption of this Resolution, the negotiation process was essentially blocked by Kiev. In order to resume work on the political track, the Republics developed and submitted for consideration a draft Roadmap for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. However, the Ukrainian party sabotages the work on agreeing the Roadmap, refusing to discuss the document of Republics, and insists on considering exclusively its own project, which completely contradicts the Package of Measures.
In 2020, the work of the humanitarian group was blocked. At the negotiating platform, no progress was made on any of the key humanitarian issues. In particular, the topics of the exchange of prisoners and the search for persons missing in connection with the conflict in Donbass were frozen. The responsibility for it lies entirely with the Ukrainian party, which for over a year has been ignoring its obligations on the procedural "clearance" of the participants in previous exchanges.
Progress within the work of the economical group for 2020 can be determined exclusively in one issue - water supply. In particular, regarding the provision of stable water supply, the parties came to a joint decision to create a sales company LLC “Dzherelo Donbassa Plus”, which was already registered on January 29, 2021. This step will allow to establish a payment mechanism for consumed water in the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic. Regarding the settlement of other agenda issues, unfortunately, there is no positive progress.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively involved in the development of regulatory legal acts regulating foreign policy and international relations of the Republic.
So, in 2020 the DPR Head signed the developed by the DPR MFA Decree “On the approval of Procedure for visiting by the International Committee of the Red Cross members of persons sentenced to imprisonment and persons who are in the institutions of the State Service for the Execution of Punishments of the Ministry of Justice of the Donetsk People's Republic” and Decree "On approval of the Regulation on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic".
At the stage of consideration and approval by the DPR Head are the draft Decree "On the procedure for assigning and maintaining diplomatic ranks", the draft Decree of the DPR Head "On Amending the Decree of the Donetsk People's Republic Head of May 21, 2020 No. 162 "On the Register of State Positions civil service of the Donetsk People's Republic", as well as the proposals of the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the draft Law "On citizenship of the Donetsk People's Republic".
In addition, the Ministry keeps journals of registration of bilateral and multilateral international treaties. In 2020, 4 interdepartmental international treaties were registered.
In total, in 2020, the Ministry considered 8 draft international treaties sent by Ministries and departments to coordinate the possibility of their conclusion.
Humanitarian program for the reunification of Donbass people
The implementation of the Humanitarian program for the reunification of Donbass people, which has been in effect since 2017, was not fully implemented in 2020 due to restrictions of coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, the existing circumstances do not mean at all that the Republic will refuse to help the inhabitants of Ukraine. On the contrary, at the “Russian Donbass” forum held on January 29, 2021, the Heads of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics announced their decision to transform the Humanitarian Program for the reunification of Donbass people into a Humanitarian program to support Russian and Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine. Such a decision is an absolutely logical, fair and even necessary response to the arbitrariness and discrimination of Russian and Russian-speaking residents taking place in Ukraine.
As the coordinator of the Humanitarian program I would like to note that we already have many years of experience in providing assistance to citizens who live in the territory temporarily controlled by Ukraine. At the moment, the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the ministries and departments of the Republic, is working to develop new, expanded areas and categories. Soon these proposals will be formalized and submitted for consideration and approval to the Head of the Donetsk People's Republic.
As for the categories of residents of Ukraine who need assistance, these are, first of all, veterans of the Great Patriotic War. These are people who, both because of their age and because of the absolutely inhuman attitude of the Ukrainian authorities towards them, require special support and assistance. The teachers of the Russian language and literature are also in a difficult situation. In today's conditions, veterans of the Great Patriotic War and teachers of the Russian language living in Ukraine are real heroes who continue to personify the values and ideals of the entire Russian world.
In addition, we consider it necessary to provide the Russian and Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine with all possible conditions for obtaining an education in the institutions of the DPR. The higher, professional and secondary education in Donbass is traditionally qualitative, and diplomas are Republican and Russian.
The issue of the possibility of providing medical assistance to Russian and Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine, as well as payments to those categories of citizens who are really in a difficult life situation, including as a result of discrimination in the Russian language, is also being actively worked out.
Of course, special attention will be paid to events in the field of culture, science, sports, tourism, especially those of them that are held with the aim of honoring the memory of iconic personalities and figures, whose legacy is a common heritage for the entire Russian socio-cultural space.
Also, taking into account the persecution and discrimination in Ukraine, the violation of human and civil rights, especially in relation to Russians, we understand that there is a need and importance in providing these people with appropriate legal support.
At the same time, I draw your attention to the fact that the most important and urgent directions of the Humanitarian Program will be preserved, because in 4 years of its implementation, almost 70 thousand residents have received assistance and support.
Interdepartmental Committee for the Accreditation of Humanitarian Missions
The DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs also coordinates the activities of the Interdepartmental Committee for the Accreditation of Humanitarian Missions. Currently, the activities of 8 humanitarian organizations (missions) are accredited in the Republic, in cooperation with which a number of humanitarian projects have been implemented.
- work was carried out on the arrangement/repair of about 15 wells (submersible pumps, pipes, cleaning, etc.) to provide water to residents of areas in need of drinking water;
- reparations were carried out in healthcare, education and social protection institutions;
- a number of educational institutions are provided with materials for the organization of the educational process (school furniture), meals for students (kitchen utensils, refrigerators, stoves, electric meat grinders, etc.), as well as water heating tanks, blankets, solar-powered lamps;
- a number of health care institutions are provided with hygiene products, PPE, pulse oximeters, ventilators and other medical equipment necessary in the fight against COVID-19, as well as refrigerators for storing vaccines;
- supplies of medical equipment, property, medicines, including to the front-line areas;
- a program for the treatment of hepatitis C was launched on the basis of the AIDS Center;
- transferred to social protection institutions: goods and materials to improve the conditions of citizens; construction materials for repairs; equipment and machinery for the provision of various services (sewing machines, irons, hair clippers, computer equipment, etc.);
- a number of institutions are provided with hygiene products for bed patients, bedding sets;
- among socially unprotected categories of citizens, the issuance of heaters, hygiene products, medicines, food and hygiene kits, children's warm clothing, etc;
- within the framework of agricultural programs, the citizens of the Republic were provided with equipment and for growing vegetables, poultry and other types of agriculture;
- in order to reduce the level of social tension, a number of programs have been implemented to provide individual assistance to citizens (warm clothes, household appliances, hygiene products, repair/installation of metal-plastic windows/balcony blocks, etc.)
- about 6500 students in grades 1-4 are provided with individual stationery kits.
Separately, it should be noted large projects, in the framework of which:
- more than 1,000 households (including multi-apartment housing stock) received support in the form of replacement of window and balcony blocks;
- over 1,000 private households received the necessary building materials for the restoration work (windows);
- more than 8,000 families of the Republic are provided with solid household fuel.
- large supplies of equipment for the needs of the State Enterprise "Water of Donbassa" were carried out in order to maintain and improve the quality of drinking water;
- agreements were reached on supply of more than 40,000 rapid tests for COVID - 19 in connection with the vaccination launch in the Republic.
As the Head of the Committee, I can note the consistently high level of coordination of interaction between its members, in particular representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Healthcare, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Natural Disasters Consequences.
Special Committee on recording and collecting the evidence of war crimes of the Ukrainian authorities in Donbass
For the fifth year already, the Special Committee for the recording and collecting the evidence of war crimes of the Ukrainian authorities in Donbass has been operating. Over the entire period of the Committee’s work, 19,976 cases in such areas as civilians (dead) - 795 records, civilians (wounded) – 1,587 records, children (dead) - 83 records, children (wounded) - 186 records, prisoners of war and illegally detained persons (civil, military and political prisoners) - 62 records. Work is also underway on processing into a single register of acts of inspection of social facilities and housing stock of cities and regions of the Republic damaged as a result of hostilities – 17,263 records have been made to date.
All the facts gathered by the efforts of the members of the Special Committee are weighty arguments in the work of the profile groups in Minsk.
Work with appeals of individuals and legal entities
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is active in working with applications from residents of the Donetsk People's Republic and foreign citizens. There is a personal reception, counseling over the phone and via e-mail. In 2020, representatives of the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs answered 303 requests received from individuals and legal entities. In addition, 1995 hotline consultations, 69 personal appointments and 987 email consultations were provided. Also, employees of the Ministry provided 600 responses to requests from state authorities, institutions and organizations.
Assistance to citizens in crossing the state border and returning from foreign countries
In 2020, due to the coronavirus infection pandemic and the related restrictive measures on movement across borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively assisted in resolving urgent issues and problem situations that arose among residents of the Republic who were abroad. Thus, the DPR Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with the diplomatic missions of friendly countries on the territory of foreign states, contributed to the safe return home of almost 200 residents of Republics.
Also, active interaction was carried out with the Interdepartmental Operational Headquarters to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Headquarters, has worked out about 400 applications from citizens regarding crossing the state border of the Republic.
Concluding my report, I would like to note that, despite all the difficulties and challenges faced by the world community in connection with the pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic managed to reach a new level of participation in international processes, maintain the pace of development of relations with friendly states, and also to develop and effectively use new ways of communication with the world community that meet modern challenges. We actively adapt to the existing international realities, we increasingly develop our online participation in international platforms, including such important ones as the United Nations, OSCE and other global structures.
Nevertheless, we hope that in 2021 the restrictions related to the prevention of coronavirus infection will be softed, and it will become possible to resume holding major international events, visits of foreign officials, representatives of the foreign public and other traditional diplomatic formats. The DPR Foreign Ministry will do everything possible to maintain the reputation of the Republic as an established subject of international relations more and more obvious and indisputable for the whole world.