Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The former speaker of the parliament of Novorossiya described to “ukraina.ru” how he sees the future of the republics that are unrecognised by Ukraine, how business feels on this territory, and what is needed so that investments come to these territories…
Oleg Tsarev is one of the symbolic figures of the Ukrainian political emigration that left from the Motherland because of the coup in 2014. After the beginning of the war in Donbass he actively involved himself in the political processes that were taking place on its territory. In particular, in 2014 he became the speaker of the parliament of Novorossiya, to which the Supreme Councils of DPR and LPR delegated their deputies. The idea of Novorossiya still hasn’t died, but after the first Minsk Agreements the project was suspended. But the rebirth of this project remained quite possible.
And now too, in connection with Aleksandr Zakharchenko’s murder and the subsequent events in the DPR, many in Russia began to say that it is necessary to recognise the DPR and LPR, and this also revives the idea of their unification into a single state.
Oleg, the other day I interviewed Yuliya Chicherina. She considers that Russia, after Zakharchenko was murdered by the Ukrainian special services, must recognise the Donbass republics. What do you think?
“I, in general, was a supporter not just of recognising the LPR and DPR, but also of the general accession to Russia of all of Ukraine in the borders of the former USSR.”
What, all of Ukraine? And Western Ukraine too?
“Yes, because we are one country, one people, which was divided.”
Wow, and Oleg Tyagnibok is also ours? Of the same blood as us and a Russian person?
“Yes. He is simply stray. There is a need to talk some sense into him. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin was very skilled at doing this.”
After Zakharchenko’s murder, is it possible to revive, in the form of a response to Ukraine, the ideas of Novorossiya that appeared in mass consciousness in 2014? If yes, maybe Oleg Tsarev can return to this project as one of the leaders of a new country?
“I consider that in Donetsk and Lugansk there are a lot of talented people. Donetsk in general was a hotbed of specialists not only for Ukraine, but also for all the Soviet Union. But if I am asked to join, then I am ready. At any position and with any status.”
Denis Pushilin stated that very soon a branch of one of the Russian banks will start to work in the DPR. You are a businessman. Therefore what do you think, will it indeed help the growth of the unrecognised republic? In general, with what else can Russia now economically help the republics?
“In 2014 I was already unpleasantly surprised by the fact that the Ukrainian daughters of Russian banks left the territory of Donbass earlier than the Ukrainian banks left. And they left by themselves, voluntary, even before the corresponding legislation had been adopted.
If now it is impossible to attach Donbass to Russia, then why is it impossible to carry out their cultural and economic integration. Banks are the blood vessels of any economy. So if the daughters of Russian banks can work on the territory of Ukraine, they why can’t they work on the territory of the LDPR?”
What spheres of the Donetsk and Lugansk economy would you, as a businessman, like to invest money in? What would you advise to your colleagues?
“Until the status of the republics is determined, I don’t think that anyone from business will decide to make large long-term investments in the territory of the LDPR. And this is one of the problems in the development of these territories. I, for example, know that many provident businessmen who work with transactions of purchase and sale in Donetsk and Lugansk duplicate them also at the notary in Ukraine.”
Let them register at the Ukrainian notary, but the most important thing is that they come. But it seems to me that they don’t come enough, while here in Donbass there is metallurgy and coal, and “Luganskteplovoz” alone is worth a lot. Or it just seems like that to us?
“Yes, they don’t come enough, and I already explained why. Since the territory has an undetermined status, it means that its future is undetermined too. It’s better to have at least one option, but a determined one — to either be on this or on that side. The most important thing is that the status is determined and doesn’t change, then it is possible to plan something in business. All risks must be calculated and factored into the business plan. If they aren’t calculated or they read off the scale, then this affects the desire to invest.
When referendum on independence took place in the DPR and LPR, we sat down and counted the budgets of the republics in the borders of the former Donetsk and Lugansk regions. It turned out that if independence is obtained, if taxes are collected from the enterprises in these borders, if to have the enterprises working at full capacity, including ‘Luganskteplovoz’ and the processing enterprises, then the standard of living (salaries and pensions) would be raised in Lugansk twofold and in Donetsk fourfold. The question of providing our territories with orders was discussed with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. This is already an affair of the past, but the standard of living would’ve been higher than it is in the Russian Federation.
Donetsk and Lugansk would be the show-window of the Russian world. If we could create and provide all of this, then we would’ve won the war for Ukraine without military operations. And we understood this very well, and Kiev also understood it. It is precisely for this reason that they began the war. They started it so that all of this couldn’t be reached. Today the businessmen from Dnepropetrovsk and Kiev who I communicate with rejoice, saying: ‘thank God that the Russian world didn’t come to us’. They mean: thank God that the war didn’t come to them, and that they aren’t being shelled. It is worse than Yanukovych’s era, but, in any case, there is a certain stability. And there is some understanding of the prospect, which can’t be said about Donetsk and Lugansk.”
What main objectives will the newly elected heads of the Donbass republics face?
“The heads of the republics must, first of all, provide all the needs of the people. The right to live must be provided, as well as the right to have private property, and for this to happen all state institutes must work. The republics must determine — what are they building. If it is socialism, then they should nationalise everything, and if it is capitalism, the right to private property, amongst other things, must be provided. The businessman must know that nobody will take anything away from him.
The preservation of life and freedom is not only the fact that a Ukrainian shell won’t land near you and that you won’t be killed, but it also means that if someone isn’t guilty, then they won’t go to prison, nor to the basement. And if they do go, then they will have a lawyer and the right in court to prove their innocence. All of this should be provided, because people from Donetsk and Lugansk are leaving to both Russia and Ukraine.
Good indicators of the work of the new leaders will be that people will start coming back to the DPR and LPR because salaries and pensions will grow, enterprises will work, there will be investments, and there will be large business projects.”
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