The Presiding Judge of the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal Described How the US Inadvertently Helped the Donbass Republics

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The high turnout at elections in the republics of Donbass is the reaction of people to the statements of the US Embassy; the sweeping away of candidates who are inconvenient for the authorities did not happen in the DPR; the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal, which was branded by its opponents as being fake, will have consequences in the future.

The former candidate for the post of the head of the DPR and presiding judge of the “Ukrainian People’s Tribunal” Elena Shishkina stated all of this in an interview with “Politnavigator”.

Tell us, please, what made you want to propose yourself as a candidate for the head of the DPR? What motives were you guided by?

“I have taken an active part in the formation of the DPR as an independent state since 2014, from the beginning of the military coup and from the moment that the fascist junta came to power in Kiev. After the tragic death of Aleksandr Zakharchenko on August 31st I and my adherents made the decision to become a candidate for the head of the republic. Many have a question in this regard: I, a woman, made such a crucial decision during such a difficult time for the state? By education I am a lawyer, from 2014 to the present moment I continue with my team to be engaged in human rights activity. In this regard I consider that we have all the necessary knowledge and a team of professionals to build up the DPR as a strong and powerful state, therefore I made the decision to run.”

What sort of program did you enter the elections with?

“My program was very extensive. We will start with the fact that, once again, I am a lawyer, therefore 90% of my program was occupied by reforming legislation. This includes: blocks on increasing social guarantees; establishing the status of military personnel; steps in the legal framework towards the recognition of the DPR in the international space; both foreign policy and external economy – raising the economy of the republic; patriotic education of the youth; promoting the institute of the family; protecting motherhood and childhood.”

Now in a number of media outlets, especially Ukrainian ones, there is the popular belief that all real rivals weren’t allowed to participate in elections, and you played the role of a technical candidate. How you can comment on such an opinion?

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“Well, I will start by saying that I am not a technician, but a humanitarian (taking into account my education). But if to speak seriously, having being faced the work of the CEC, I can say with confidence that it worked exclusively to the letter of the law and within the legal framework. From the moment I applied to be the head of the DPR and up to the electoral process, I and my authorised representatives visited more than 20 polling precincts, and neither I nor my authorised representatives ever discovered falsifications or violations of the electoral law of the DPR.

Concerning the non-admission of certain competitors or strong rivals, I am not aware of this. All interested persons were able to submit a package of documents according to the law, move forward, collect the necessary number of signatures of voters, and be registered.”

How do you in general evaluate the course of the electoral campaign and why, in your opinion, was the turnout high?

“I am very grateful to the inhabitants of our republic for the fact that the people of Donbass once again confirmed via such a high turnout (80.1%) that the course chosen in May, 2014 is correct, and that we are moving in the correct direction. The entire course of the electoral campaign and pre-election campaign, of course, leaves a very positive impression, because when I met with voters there was very active feedback, I saw an active civil position from the people. In my opinion, this is connected to the fact that people are already tired of war and the false information ‘planted’ by Ukraine, which in every possible way tried to prevent us from carrying out lawful and legitimate elections. And strangely enough, with such high turnout we were helped by the US, because it reacted to the carrying out of our elections very actively and thus actually recognised them.”

Speak about your further plans. What do you plan to be involved in? Have you received any offers from the new government?

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“Not a lot of time has passed since November 11th, but now I and members of my team, if to be honest, are having a rest because it was a very difficult electoral campaign that was carried out very tensely. I plan to be involved in the same thing that I was involved in before: taking part in the creation of the Donetsk People’s Republic as a constitutional state. Concerning offers from the new government, I am not expecting any offers but if I am useful in any post, then I with pleasure will accept any offer, I will join the team of the government and I will help to build the state, but either way I will continue to do what I did before.”

Everyone is interested to know if the work of the Tribunal will continue? Its critics called it a fiction and a fake. And many Ukrainians simply mocked it, calling it a circus-imitation that has no consequences for Kiev. What will you say in response to such critics?

“I am aware of Ukraine’s reaction to the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal. I will start by saying that there have been military operations on the territory of Donbass since 2014, or simply put – war and the killing of civilians on our territory. In this regard public figures and lawyers started collecting and documenting proof of the crimes of the Ukrainian authorities in relation to the people of Donbass.

In the spring of this year, on the basis of the documents collected by the public commission on documenting crimes, there were two hearings on criminal cases concerning members of the criminal government of Ukraine, and two sentences concerning the president, ministers, journalists, and so on were pronounced. These sentences were sent to the international instances, to the Security Service, and to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Of course, we are sure that the time will come when all those who are guilty will be punished and will be held responsible for their crimes.

Concerning Ukraine’s reaction to the People’s Tribunal (UPT), we indeed watch the media broadcasted from the territory under Ukraine’s control, they dug themselves a hole: their actions actually popularised and drew the attention of Ukrainian residents to the UPT, which is being carried out by us in Donbass. And if the way in which the tribunal is being carried out is debatable, the facts however remain facts. Ordinary residents of Ukraine already complain to the authorities and say that ‘it isn’t important if the court is legitimate or not’ – although we act completely within the framework of the law, what is important is that the facts of crimes are confirmed.”

At one of the hearings of the Tribunal Aleksandr Vladimirovich Zakharchenko acted as a witness. How did he testify?

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“For me it was a great honour to run for the post of the head of the DPR after such tragic events involving Aleksandr Vladimirovich. Indeed, he took part in the UPT, and I remember with what pain he described those crimes, about those thousands of victims among our children and elderly, how he blamed the Ukrainian authorities for these crimes, about the atrocities he described, and about what happened personally before his eyes. He really was sick from worrying about all the population, and his main idea, which stood out throughout all his life, was that the guilty will be punished sooner or later, and the people of Donbass now fight for their independence and freedom not in vain.”

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