Alexander Zakharchenko: "Peace will not come until Kiev regime's changed"

Today, on March 7, a press conference of the Head of State was held in Donetsk. At the meeting with journalists, Alexander Zakharchenko answered questions concerning the current situation and assessed some of the statements by the Western supervisors of the Ukrainian authorities.

- Alexander Vladimirovich, at about midnight from March 4 to March 5, another truce came into force, the so-called "absolute" and "infinite" one. Meanwhile, on the morning of March 5, the Ukrainian military violated the agreement and opened fire on the DPR public utility workers in Gorlovka, a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and journalists also came under fire in Yasinovataya. And, unfortunately, we have been observing such a situation for almost four years. Do you think it makes sense to appoint new armistices, if Ukraine does not comply with them, how much does it really matter, if bombardments and casualties, unfortunately, continue to happen, and what should be done to stop Kiev's aggression?

- First of all, to declare the beginning of a new ceasefire, the end of the previous one had to be declared. I can be mistaken, as we have lost count already, but we had about 15 such truces. All of them are still in force – the School, Grain, and New Year's ones... I'm already taking this with humour.

The only way to end the war and establish peaceful life is to reach the borders of the DPR, that is, of the former Donetsk region, and the change of power in Kiev is of utmost importance. The proclamation of any armistice is irrelevant without having this done.

- How do you assess the launch of the discussion of the Republic's development strategy the "Donbass Strength", and when will this programme grow from the discussion into implementation?

- The process is underway and there are first results already. The main purpose of the discussion has been set. Based on the results of the discussions, it will be decided which of the proposals should be included in the programme.

In fact, we can say that the "Donbass Strength" has been started long ago. After all, everything is aimed at developing the economy, improving the social situation, building a truly people's state. And all of these are the tasks of the government and me.

- How many letters from the total amount have been addressed personally to you via special post boxes in public reception offices during the work of the Donetsk Republic Public Movement with citizens' appeals? What questions do people put in these appeals more often, and is it necessary to adjust priorities in the work of local officials?

- Almost all the appeals had been addressed to me before. By the way, this is a very bad sign – people request me as a last resort. Therefore, it was decided to reformat the work of public reception offices. And the situation is already beginning to change: people appeal more to city administrations, to specialized ministries, to the heads of various departments and offices. The reformatting was perfectly timed.

As for the officials, I will answer unequivocally – of course this must be done. If they are given an opportunity to just quietly sit in their places – there will be a thousand times more appeals, and again all to my name. I think that officials should be stimulated from time to time.

- Are there any directions in which the bureaucratic apparatus has got stuck?

- The most acute ones are social and housing and utility problems. But, this is not due to the fact that officials are stalling. The main factor is war. The resources that should be spent on construction, solving social problems and other important things are spent on conducting military operations. The situation will improve once peace comes.

- Volker has recently said that the DPR and the LPR should be eliminated so that the sovereignty of Ukraine in Donbass was restored, what is your opinion about this?

- Firstly, let Volker try. Secondly, I want to note that when asked about the establishment of peace, I answered tactfully.

And, finally, I believe that the worst thing is that a man of such a level, the one high up in the world, speaks of the destruction of four million inhabitants! Other countries should start thinking [about the matter] if the US considers it possible to kill civilians for its own purposes.

We are ready for any developments and will not allow to eliminate ourselves.

- The lack of qualified personnel is one of the problems that the Republic faced at the very beginning of its development. Has it become possible to ensure that young specialists would stay here after graduation, and what is planned to be done in the same direction in the future?

- If you think that all our young people leave to study abroad, you are wrong. To stay or to leave is the choice of any student. But the majority stay here. Personnel shortage is present. These problems will be overcome in 2019-2020, when those students graduate, who have already entered universities in the Republic. Another solution is the return to peaceful life of the people who are now defending our homeland with arms in trenches. There are good specialists out there, and they really love the Republic, they believe in a bright future.

For now, we are doing everything possible to attract young professionals, create favourable conditions for them. But we are shorthanded. It takes time to solve the problem.

-What are the nearest plans for the coal industry development in the state? Do you plan to provide social support to miners and complete repayment of wage arrears as part of your election programme?

- Are there any wage arrears? At the state mines, there is a backlog pertaining to the payment of wages – exactly one month. As for some commercial enterprises, there are arrears for half a year. I have received an appeal from the Zhdanovskaya mine, there is a question of closing 4 to 6 months, depending on the sectors. The fact is that the current wages are given there on time. The arrears emerged in 2015, when there were active hostilities. I have instructed both the management and the owners, and I will personally monitor the implementation progress.

The situation is tense: not all state-owned enterprises have repaid arrears for the past period, but the current wages are given to everyone. The leadership is tasked to make this issue a priority. 98% of enterprises have repaid arrears, there are mines that temporarily do not ship coal, or operate in the dewatering regime. At the waterworks, salaries are paid from the state budget, which is formed by the quarterly results. Therefore, there are delays.

The coal industry is diverse, it is impossible to consider problems as a whole. This issue is important to me, I myself worked as a miner and perfectly understand the entire burden of miners' work. I undertake all the measures that I can, and even more.

- Former prisoners of war and political prisoners, who had found themselves in a difficult situation after the exchange, often turn to us on the set: some people do not have documents and residence permits, so they can not get a job or qualify for social payments and pensions. How is this issue solved in the DPR?

- Two weeks ago, I gave the order to Ombudsperson Darya Morozova and the Ministry of Defense to launch the process of issuing documents, and to make sure these people receive full assistance in this concern. Not all have been checked yet. For today, 15 people, whom we had exchanged, have turned out to be infiltrated SBU agents.

As for all the rest – the issues are resolved in an individual manner.

- Alexander Vladimirovich, a question on the eve of the holiday. Since 2014, our women have been fighting and building the Republic on an equal basis with men. How do you think, what features inherent in the women of the Republic help persistently survive in difficult times?

- Congratulations to all our women on the holiday! The main features of our women are as follows. Our women are the most beautiful. There are no women in the world who would be more beautiful! Our women are very brave, so they endure all difficulties and hardships. Another important facet is that we can not give up before our women. Thank you all so much for this!