The Head of the Donetsk People's Republic met with the media on January 11. The Head of State expressed his views on the recent exchange of prisoners, and also spoke about the plans for the development of the Republic in 2018.
- In Russia, there is an annual practice of determining the main "theme". What will our state take keep at the forefront this year? Will we determine the main theme of the year further on?
- The main theme of 2018 will be the History of Donbass. Moreover, this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic. We must remember our roots, our history. There were many suggestions, one of which was the Year of the Child. But, I think that children should be cared for all the time.
- The President of the Republic of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov visited the Donetsk People's Republic the other day. What was the purpose of this visit, were any new agreements reached?
- There were two goals. Both were achieved. Anatoly Bibilov came along with the Defense Minister of South Ossetia. A number of documents were prepared, which are being approved by the DPR People's Council of the DPR and the parliament of South Ossetia. Those concern cooperation in the military sphere. Along with that, cooperation in the banking sector was discussed. Both documents will be signed in the near future.
- In the past few weeks the Republic has been experiencing an unstable situation around gas fuel. How is this problem being solved and what has caused it? Why has the price for motor gas, in particular propane-butane, been recently increased?
- This is the world trend of rising prices for oil and oil products. However, the price increase and deficit are mainly observed at commercial refueling stations. There is gas at state refueling stations, and a rise in price, if there is any, is only seasonal.
- Alexander Vladimirovich, one of the largest exchanges of prisoners during the conflict was held between the People's Republics and Ukraine on the New Year's Eve. According to Daria Morozova, Kiev transferred 160 people to Donetsk. At present, some of these people are under medical supervision, many have returned without documents. What kind of help will be provided by the DPR authorities to those who have returned from the Ukrainian captivity? Can they rely on help in restoring documents, obtaining housing, finding employment?
- Ukraine has once again deceived everyone. The number of people stated to Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill, and which had been discussed with us, did not coincide with the number of people who were transferred to us.
For today, the main task is to lift people out of the toughest state in which they are after the captivity. First and foremost, this is psychological support. People had been imprisoned for several years.
Further on, other assistance will be provided, including in obtaining documents. As for housing, problems will be treated in an individual manner. Many have their own houses and apartments.
- Is there any awareness when the next exchange of prisoners can be expected?
- There is no awareness, no preliminary data. To be honest, we haven't yet fully grasped this exchange. We were not given all the people who have been claimed on the lists. I instructed Ombudsman Darya Morozova to raise this issue at Contact Groups' meetings in Minsk. At least the number ought to be retained.
Ukraine took even this exchange really hard. They tried to disrupt this exchange. For example, we set a special regime on our border for the time of the exchange, Ukraine, on the contrary, created a large traffic jam there and, at the very moment of the exchange, it let about three thousand people into that territory. We did not expect such meanness even from them!
Based on all this, I think the next stage will not be soon, and negotiations will be very difficult. Ukraine has no good will for "all for all" exchanges. Kiev does not remember the times when we would transfer hundreds of prisoners without any exchanges. We let go home all eighteen-year-old boys-conscripts who had been caught up with us in the Ilovaisk Pocket, near Shakhtyorsk, and near Torez... We would just give 150 to 200 people each time. And they come up with various reasons not to exchange our servicemen.
Another point is whom Ukraine transfers. People who do not hide their views about the Kiev regime are, of course,worthy of respect. But these are not prisoners of war! We even receive lists of people who were simply detained for vagrancy. It is not funny, but bitter to see such things. After all, these are the destinies of people!
- Since January this year, the size of the minimum pension has been raised in the Republic. Are there any plans to improve the well-being of our citizens?
- The minimum pension will be 2,904 rubles from January. Benefits for families with children and retired military personnel have also been increased.
We have repeatedly raised pensions and other social benefits. We are building a socially-oriented state, so the main task is to help and support needy citizens.
This year, in the third quarter, the pension will be raised again. Perhaps, one more increase will be possible at the end of the year.
- Will there be elections for the post of Head in 2018?
- I understand why this question has arisen. The Internet community has different opinions. I read these articles and statements. It was a pleasant surprise that the elections in the Donetsk People's Republic caused a stir among many famous bloggers.
Elections will be held. In the order established by the Law – in the autumn of 2018. Zakharchenko does not extend his term of office for a year, as the "experts" write. The term of cadence will be increased after the next election. The Head of the Donetsk People's Republic will be elected not for four, but for five years. And Zakharchenko runs for office in 2018.
- What will your election programme include?
- It's a bit early to talk about this. My whole programme is now clear – this is the development of the economy and raising the standard of living of the population. There's a lot of work to do! Closer to the elections my programme will be available to everyone.
- What are the plans for economic development in the Republic? On what will the bets be done? Which industries are of priority for the DPR?
- This is machine building, metallurgy, coal industry and agriculture. But we are in the situation when where in any sphere of the economy, everywhere development and revival are needed, and sometimes construction from scratch.
For example, agriculture. The processes that have been launched in the past years need constant attention this year too. We are not just developing the industry, we are building an entirely new agriculture.
In metallurgy we face blockade, difficulties with the supply of raw materials and the sale of finished products. But the factories are working. The problems of the industry will be resolved.
In the coal industry, we reached the volumes of the pre-war 2013. The works to increase production and development of coal-mining enterprises will be continued.
Every industry is important. It is impossible to single out only one of them; all issues should be resolved in a complex.
- How do you assess the situation on the contact line? The shelling of the outskirts of Gorlovka and other provocations by the AFU?
- The situation is complicated, precombat. If frosty weather lasts for at least two weeks, we can expect provocations on the part of Ukraine.
In Kiev, there is still tension: President Poroshenko has to solve serious internal problems, and the only way is to intensify the conflict in Donbass. Judging by the latest bombardments, this decision is festering. We are waiting. We are ready, don't you worry, all our troops have been brought to full combat readiness. Units are able to repel any aggression. I can say that it will be the last one for Kiev.
- What are the first results of the work of the Public Reception Centers of the DPR Head?
- Approximately 30 thousand appeals have been received all over the Republic. About 50% have been decided on the spot, about a quarter of the issues have been passed to the profile departments, and the rest required advice and clarification. Along with that, about two thousand people joined the ranks of the Donetsk Republic Public Movement.
It is positive that people went to the Centers, believed, and started speaking about problems. We need this practice.
Official translation by DONi News Agency