Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Donetsk People's Republic

Natalia Nikonorova took part in a round table on the basis of Donetsk National University

19 December 2016

J- Would You tell us please, how do you personally see the past year, as a Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic?-
NN - Well, I have not spent the whole 2016 being an Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, but still, I consider this year to be very meaningful.
I would say, it was profitable, because our stuff were active and creative during this period, and I could even call it a very interesting year in my life.
J - We would like You to comment on the work of the DPR Representative Center, that had been recently opened in Czech Republic. As far as we know, a photo exhibition "Life in Donbass" is to be soon held there. Are there any other activities You are going to fulfill? Do you plan to open another Representative Centers of Donetsk People's Republic in other countries, to break the informational blockade?
NN - The Representative Сenter of the Donetsk People's Republic in Czech Republic was really the first official representative office, opened in a country of the European Union. Very soon we are going to organize a photo exhibition, displaying life in Donbass, it's true. With help of this exhibition we want to let everyone see the two sides of living in the Donetsk People's Republic: on the one hand living here is living in the war, and it is because of the shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces; on the other hand our Republic still lives and develops, many people here live an ordinary civil life. We want to show how our schools, hospitals and community services work, and we want to show our people's everyday life and their spirit in general.
The named representative office has a set work program till the end of the year. It is already planed to make an internet-site for it. This site will be multilingual: in Czech (so Czech citizens could see the latest news of the Donetsk People's Republic and the news of the Representative center itself in their native language), Russian and English. This would be one of our actions that could help us to break the informational blockade. By the way, several delegations from Czech Republic have already visited us. One of them was even an official political delegation: it consisted of members of Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, who've visited the DPR as foreign observers during primaries. And in general, the aim of this Representative Center is to cultivate relations and to improve informational, cultural and economical co-operation between the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Czech Republic. It could be noticed, that this work is very intensive today: we have constant cultural exchange, administrative coordination, we regularly receive feedbacks from the citizens of Czech Republic, and also from Donbass habitants, who live now there. They have already official address of the representative office, so everyone, who needs help of the Representative Center, may come there and to submit an application or contact us directly through the representative office.
Our work in this international co-operation is really intensive, and of course, the photo exhibition is to be held not only in Czech Republic. We also plan to show it in Serbia and Germany, and of course we do work on projects of new Representative Centers of the Donetsk People's Republic in several countries of the European Union.
J - Could You comment on the public reaction on the opening of Representative Center of the Donetsk People's Republic in Czech Republic? We are sure, You are in touch with Your colleagues from this representative office, could You tell us what do the former Donbass habitants think of the recent events?
NN - The citizens of Czech Republic have reacted positively. The Ukrainian government has also reacted on this event: as they had possibility to spread information in EU, they were demonizing our Republic, to make others believe, there is no use in opening any kind of Representative Centers, or considering us a democratic country.
But never the less, we've managed to do it, and our representative office was registered according to the Czech legislation. It is open now, and we hope, we shall have further success in this sphere.
J- Would You please tell us about the situation in Minsk negotiations?
NN - The situation is very complicated today. The negotiations are very complicated in general, largely because of our Ukrainian opponents. During all this period we've made a lot work to implement the agreements, which our representative has signed. We've presented several draft documents, to fulfill completely the Complex of measures. A year ago our group on political issues has already been in an embarrassing situation once. The work was actually blocked, because we simply could not reach understanding with our opponents on the issue of the Law on the special status of Donbass, and that's why exactly on the 2nd October on Paris Summit the “Steinmeier's formula” was created. One was recommended to us afterwards. But in the course of time the Ukrainian representatives again were refusing to use that document, and continued to delay the implementation of modifications to the Law on the special status of Donbass.
So we were expecting that on the November 19 on Berlin Summit “Steinmeier's formula” will be confirmed in Normandy format, and it has actually happened there. And we wholeheartedly agree with its results and are very inspired with them, because we consider the special status of Donbass, the law of its special status are to be a foundation for a peaceful settlement.
But still, on the next a sitting of the political group that took place in Minsk on October 26, we saw misunderstanding of Ukrainian representatives. They were delaying work again, were trying to confuse us. I mean, Ukrainian representatives continued using their own interpretation of the Complex of measures..
Well, we hope to receive some more clear recommendations from the representatives of Ukraine in Normandy format, or some senior representatives, to unlock the work of the group, so we could discuss the modifications, and implement “Steinmeier's formula”. We wish our opponents to work in a more constructive way.
J - According to the order of the Head of the Donetsk People's Republic You are also a chairman of a Special Committee on recording and collecting the evidence of war crimes of the Ukrainian authorities in Donbass. Could You please tell us about the provisional results of this Committee's work?
NN - We've already collected lot of material in the framework of the Special Committee. But we keep on working at the Committee, because even the amount of evidences we've already collected and systematized, does not cover all war crimes of the Ukrainian Armed Forces against our citizens. There is why much work is to be done, but we have already set the order of investigations, and have set mechanisms for collaboration with all the needed public authorities. These are, first of all, the executive authorities, such as Ministry of Healthcare, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Ministry of Justice. We also receive a lot of current information from our Ministry of Emergency Situations and our Ministry of Internal Affairs, and we'd wish to thank them for their help, as their information is always very organized.
It can be said, that we also cooperate with our citizens, the Public Committee, and we have a constant information exchange with them. Public Committee was created to analyze, organize, document and refer cases and evidences of crimes to international judicial authorities.
Today the Special Committee has already formed 835 cases, but these cases cover only 2014. The cases are formed, including the following 4 areas:
- Children (wounded or died)
- Civilians (wounded or died)
- Civil infrastructure ( damaged, or destroyed)
- Prisoners and illegally held persons.
When I speak of the last category, I mean people, who were imprisoned, were tortured, or were
held in secret jails of the Security Service of Ukraine. So all the cases were systemized and cataloged by us, and we keep on collecting this information.
But still, I repeat, the 835 cases cover only 2014, and still, not completely. The work during that period is far from over. We keep collecting information about war crimes against children, and the representatives of the Special Committee visit the scene of crime, interview witnesses, including the parents, make video recording.
As far as I know, our specialists in criminal law from Public Committee now also visit the scenes of a crime, examine the place, for example after Makeyevka was shelled few days ago, these representatives performed the duties of experts, they've made the necessary video recording, collected the data, and examined witnesses. So, for the representatives of Ukraine now it should be a hard task to blame the Donetsk People's Republic Armed Forces for shelling of their own territory. According to findings of expert studies it will be clear, where the shelling fire units were stationed, or how far they were located from any damaged unit.
J- During 2016 year our Republic has been visited by various delegations both from near abroad and far-abroad countries. And primaries that were held in Donetsk People's Republic have grabbed the most of public attention. Do You agree, such public reaction shows that the citizens of the European Union and of many other countries begin to obtain the truth information about the situation in Donbass?
NN - You're right in saying that they are only beginning to reveal it. It really can be mentioned, the informational blockade has been partly broken. And many foreign delegations have already visited us. Of cause, in countries that' are friendly with us from the very beginning, such as Russian Federation, South Ossetia, Republic of Abkhazia, the was no any informational blockade at all, and we've been giving them the proper information during the war period. And we had even already established diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Ossetia. Now we are working on a covenant of proper interstate agreements. And as for the countries of the European Union, it actually used to be a great problem to break through the informational blockade, but nowadays more and more delegations visit the Donetsk People's Republic due to the work of the DPR Representative Centers.
By the way, our Representative Center in Czech Republic was opened in result of a such visit of Czech delegation. Our representative in Czech Republic, Nela Liskova has actually become a reprehensive of DPR, after her visiting to our country. And we have told her about the situation here, and have made an excursion for a Czech delegation, and showed them all as it was. And Nela Liskova was really impressed, if not shocked by this experience. As a result she has established the mentioned representative office of the DPR in her Fatherland, because it was necessary to inform people and tell them truth. Simply because the information, given on the western media, is inconsistent with reality.
There are also several Finland citizens, which have shown their willingness to receive citizenship in the Donetsk People's Republic, to live and work here. And so, they staid. All of them have made this decision after visiting our land. As far as I know, one of them even came here in a tourist delegation. It means that the international interest to our land constantly grows, and the truth breakers through anyway. Even though the representatives of Ukraine and the power holders in Kiev demonize citizens, saying we are some kind terrorists or inhumans, or telling that Armed Forces of the Russian Federation send their soldiers to our territory, we can still prove that it is false. And it is very simple: anyone can just come to the Donetsk People's Republic, and see, that any single thing said by the Ukrainian politics is a total lie. The truth begins to
spread in European Union. And people start to wonder, because the things, said to them on media, are not according to the things, they hear from ones, who have visited our Republic. That is why to reveal the truth, to understand, what is really going on, people start to seek other information, or even visit us too. Now more and more of them come here. They can visit us as tourists, or do it with help of our representative offices.
In the very near future we also plan to make a multilingual book about the Donetsk People's Republic, and also make up several videos, showing people both sides of life in Donbass: war and peace.
Yes, I can say day after day the situation is improving, and we all would like this process is to be a bit faster, and every one in the world could know the truth about the Donetsk People's Republic at once, but to make it happen one day, our Ministry keeps on working, hard working.