What is happening now in the Donbass? How do people live in the unrecognised republics of Donetsk and Luhansk? Do they still believe and trust Russia? Pravda.Ru interviewed Valery Skorokhodov, chairman of the committee of the People's Council of the People's Republic of Donetsk on agriculture and land resources.
"You serve on an official position, but can you tell us what people think about the progress, which was promised seven years ago, but never materialized? The front line goes directly along the outskirts of Donetsk. We cannot even imagine this about Moscow. If Moscow were in those shoes, the problem would have been solved a long time ago."
"We understand Russia's foreign policy here very well. Sometime we want to take up arms and go and fight when our territory is being shelled. We understand what the USA wants from us, let alone Ukraine. They provoke us, making us violate the things that we signed up to. They will never get that.
We understand very well that we have to defend the values of the entire Russian world. But we cannot afford to be drawn into a provocation, as we are aware of the task that the Ukrainian Nazis work on.
As for the Minks Accords, the Ukrainian authorities are working contrary to those agreements. At the same time, during the existence of the Minsk agreements, we entered the ruble zone, received documents, Russian passports, and we continue our integration into Russian economic and political space. We are guided by the Russian legislative base too. Sooner or later we will become part of Russia, and we are preparing for this now."
"When do you think this can happen? How many years is this going to take?"
"In South Ossetia, the issue was resolved in one day, when the United States incited the Georgians and started killing civilians. We do not know what the Biden administration has in mind, but we do know Biden's thoughts on the subject: bombings and destruction of everything that is Russian. We understand what to expect with his arrival in the White House.
Ukraine has set up a very strong blockade, it's hard for us to breathe here, but people can survive with Russia's help. Ukraine chose the military path, Bandera, Shukhevych. This is unacceptable to us.
My whole family is an ethnic Russian family. Can you imagine what is happening in the west of Ukraine? In 2014, teenagers in Ukraine were chanting slogans that called for the execution of Russians. The "Russian Donbass" doctrine is a very important document, which also serves as an incentive for the rest of Ukraine to act."
"How many Donetsk residents have received their Russian passports?"
"There are more than 200,000 Russian citizens in the republic now, and we are going to continue this work. There's the data secrecy issue there, special services have this question under their control, and the head of the republic set the task to intensify this process considerably."
"Do these people stay in the republic or leave for Russia? Do you need them to leave?"
"It is up to people to decide. We cannot force people to live, but this is a way out for some, to start a new life. Many lost their loved ones, other were left alone. We must work so that people do not have a desire to leave. Ukraine aggravates the situation with its blockades. We should not fall back to the bottom of the ladder by the time when the war ends. We must be prepared to enter the Russian Federation as equal subjects.
"What is your average pension in rubles now?"
"I will not give you the exact numbers. It was increased in January by 20 percent. The goal is to reach the level of financial support for Russia's Rostov region by 2022."
"This is an ambitious task to pursue, because the Rostov region is not at the bottom of the list in terms of living standards in Russia. What can you say about the budget, where do you get the money from? Is it coming from the Russian Federation?"
"There was a time when we could plan our budget for a month or three, taking into consideration the current state of affairs at that particular moment. Time goes by, and of course, the budget of any country is formed from deductions that companies make."
"Do they pay taxes to Ukraine? Their ownership must have remained the same?
"Come on, what are you talking about? We do not even discuss that. Everything is paid to the republican budget and is distributed here ... In 2014-15 teachers would be paid 5,000, now they get 20,000. We have our sales market in blockade, but we still find ways out."
"Which ones, for example?"
"I don't want to open up these cards to our opponents so that they could go ahead and block those sources of funding too."
"Do you think Moscow can back off over the fear of sanctions should the question of the independence of the republics arise, if Ukraine goes on the offensive?"
"As for the sanctions, we in the Donbass understand very well what is happening in Russia. Soon there will be sanctions because it rains in Russia, but not in America. Nevertheless, Russia has been handling them very well, building the Crimean bridge, roads and developing agriculture.
Sanctions are always bad, this is dirty politics but the question is different. Our grandfathers and grandmothers in 1941 had no choice, but people could not betray their homeland.
I remember the times of the collapse of the Soviet Union very well, and 25 years later, Russia defends the historical truth. Should Russia give up on the Donbass not to receive new sanctions, or receive new sanctions without giving up on the Donbass.
We believe here that every person, the Russian leadership, and the Russian people in general, are not traitors, they are not the people who can betray their faith, their language for some bread or cookies."
“In summer, a monster began to wake up in me, really. I started hating everyone. I always hated everyone and started hating even more,” he said