The Ukrainian government presents elections on the occupied territory as the only way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Donbass. The President Poroshenko said he expected the migrants and Ukrainian media to participate in the elections, which, he says, are the "anchor of Ukrainian Donbass". But the question is to what extend migrants themselves consider the elections on the occupied territory to be real and justifiable. OstroV talked about these issues with a well-known in Ukraine Donetsk journalist Tatyana Zarovnaya.
- Tanya, what do you think about opportunities to participate in the elections in Donetsk?
I think it’s impossible. It is unlikely that my vote will be protected. It is not clear how my interests will be represented and who will represent pro-Ukrainian community. Let’s just imagine that a Ukrainian activist is nominated for election, a human rights advocate, how will he conduct his electoral campaign, his agitation? As a fascist? The local media resources: Oplot channel, Municipal newspaper, which campaigned for the "Russian Spring" and fomented war, will say that it is a fascist. And how will he promote himself to voters at the local level?
- Do you mean that the elections on the occupied territories are already based on unequal conditions?
Yes, this is absurd. In addition, this person, participating in the elections will legitimize the militants. As they insisted that they were allowed to participate in elections. Otherwise, why do they need these elections? And how will pro-Ukrainian activist look in this company? Sorry, but it's ugly even to be printed on a paper with the other candidates. I'm not even talking about the fact that the election campaign will be held on the territory which is controlled by the terrorists Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky and as this is the election of heads of cities and districts, they will be so-called "heads" of so-called "republics". And even if the pro-Ukrainian candidate wins, will he work in this area? This is just unreal.
- The President hopes that return of Ukrainian media will change the mood. I do not think that those who ran away under the threat of death will want to return to those who threatened them. But do you think that if Ukrainian TV channels are broadcast it will really make a difference?
I do not know whether this will really change something. But let's imagine such situation. If Ukrainian TV channels are broadcast, I'll be glad that there is an alternative. Though now many people have satellite TV. But it will have no effect. It will not provide equal conditions. These people have been intimidated and deceived by the information more than for a year. We are "fascists" for them; they are in the information vacuum. And suddenly, they will listen to Ukrainian channels in the midst of the election campaign and change their opinion?! I doubt. People there are like "hostages", they are closer to militants. This is Stockholm syndrome. I say this from my own experience of communicating with my friends. They all are in the same boat. It happened that in the midst of the sea there is a boat: inside there are militants and also people who want to swim to the shore and survive. And there is me with a Ukrainian flag on the far shore. I shout to them: "Guys!". They understand that it’s impossible to swim to my shore; militants will not let them, and if they swing the boat with the militants inside, they will sink all together. We are very far away from each other. There are deaths of those who fought on different sides. And deaths of innocent civilians whose relatives do not know whose missile it was and are unlikely to figure it out. And that can’t be changed in six months.
- But this situation should be changed. How is it possible, in your opinion? When will it be possible to conduct Ukrainian elections there?
Ukrainian elections will be possible only then when there are features of Ukrainian territory. I don’t know what to do with the people who captured the authority. Should we kill or sentence there? Political experts say there is practice around the world that militants are engaged into the political sphere to avoid terrorist threats. It’s so-called humanism as they reflect moods of the certain part of the population. But this process is very long and can last years. If we conduct elections fast and somehow push them into Ukraine, it won’t have any good consequences. There should be a process of gradual reintegration.
- But if they want it. Many of them have too much to lose if they return to Ukraine…
They will live according to their laws and demand some special rules and conditions. Fools are fools, they don’t observe the rules. And they have got another interpretation “Militants are militants, they don’t observe the rules. But they insist that they are not militants but citizens with special needs. Like disabled.
- Let’s not offend the disabled… What do you think about the possibility of amnesty of militants?
It’s inevitable. How can we sentence to prison such a great number of people who cooperated with occupants at some period of time? In other words, the most highlighted monsters won’t escape from punishment. But the others will be able to do that. Firstly, just because of the fact that Ukraine isn’t a country of law very much. Are all criminals sentenced to prison in our country? No, such issues are solved in a different way. The arrested people are those who don’t have money for a good lawyer or just aren’t in favour. The other issue is one of moral and law. I don’t know criminal code, Constitution international law but everything will be trampled down, if Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky become Ukrainian legal politicians.
- It’s possible that we don’t have evidence that Zakharchenko himself killed somebody or raped. It is possible that he goes under amnesty.
But he is the organizer. He is more responsible than the executives. This republic is headed by terroristic organizations. He created it. The role of the person who kills is less than the one of Zakharchenko. He doesn’t need to kill. He is the organizer and inspirer of massacre.
-Still, amnesty doesn’t concern people who committed slaughter and violence. It concerns all the others.
I don’t know what amnesty will mean. But I am sure that those people who organized that should be first to be responsible. I don’t think that Usama ben Laden killed somebody himself. Maybe, he didn’t do that. He is still terrorist No. 1 . The leaders, brains and organizers of IGIl don’t need to run with weapon. They just need to inspire others to kill for their own role models and perverted perception of good and evil.
- But you said that their implementation into the politics of Ukraine is inevitable?
I didn’t say it was inevitable. Wise people who are experts in the field of politics and solutions of such conflicts say that and I, basing on moral and law, can’t agree with them. I am not expert in solving such conflicts at the global level. I also heard such opinions that peace is possible only if the activists of these “republics” are implemented into the political sphere. But there is another issue: organizers shouldn’t rehabilitate in eyes of the society and law. There may be other political figures but such people like Zakharchenko shouldn’t have the second chance to be legally elected in Donbass. Otherwise there will be a huge tragedy in Ukraine.
- On what conditions will you personally be able to return to Donetsk?
I even can’t imagine that. I think it will be dangerous and morally difficult. I am not talking about my safety. Imagine there is an official head of the city on this territory. For example, Martynov (the head of so-called Administration of DPR - OstroV) tries to convert from “pseudo” terroristic leader to a legal head of the city. I can’t imagine this man to be the mayor of the city. I personally saw how he pushed and offended the woman from Batkivshchyna at the protest act in February 1014. I witnessed his participation in “Russian sabbat” that was a part of “Russian spring” and beginning of the war in Donbass. How can I live in the city that is ruled by such a mayor? In the building of city hall and administrations people were tortured and killed when Zakharchenko and others were just a few floors higher. I perceive these parties and blood in the basements as something material that even influences us all. Martynov is going to have his office in the building of torture rooms and blood, isn’t he? After killing a lot of my friends who I had known for a long time and even talked with them before their death… I will never forget that. All the figures that helped to kill Ukrainian patriots in the torture rooms of Donbass only because they had a different opinion contrary to Donetsk (so-called “regional”) patriotism and all of those who called to kill the otherwise-minded are even worse for me than ordinary militants. You can rectify militants; he can stay in prison for ten years and then may change his mind. He might have been stupid or misled. And those who organized everything to get a benefit or powers are horrible people. And how can I agree with the fact that those people can become legal representatives of my city?! This will meanness and treason of those died on the way of implementing criminals and terrorists into the authority, that’s why I can’t imagine how it may happen in the near future. I think the process of return of Donbass and other occupied territories to Ukraine will be long-lasting. It will happen when Ukraine is a state of law, of European kind not only in words but due its values. Still money is more important for us than lives. It’s like that all over Ukraine.
Interviewed by Sergey Garmash for Ostrov