Editor of The Ukrainian Magazine and columnist of Polish newspapers Gazeta Wyborcza and Nowa Europa Wschodnia, Piotr Andrusieczko is quite familiar with the specifics of Donbas. Since December 2013 he actively follows political process in Ukraine, including confrontation on Maidan, annexation of Crimea, and conflict in Eastern Ukraine. In 2014, Grand Press awarded him as the Journalist of the Year. In his interview to 112.international, Piotr shares his opinion on the situation of ceasefire and arms withdrawal, describes his impression of visiting war-torn Donbas, and indicates the main perils for the moment.
As the result of the Paris agreements, the removal of weaponry has begun. Despite proclaiming the truce, a ceasefire violation took place in Troitske, Donetsk region. How do you estimate the process of weapons removing?
Withdrawal of weapons is controlled by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. The first phase of it takes place in Luhansk region, and October 18 this operation to start in Donetsk region. However, the problem is not only in tanks withdrawal. One of the Ukrainian soldiers, tank crewman, explained that it needs only half an hour to bring the tank into the working condition. The distance of arms withdrawal accounts only for 15 km. Therefore, one hour is enough for starting the war again.
In your opinion, under what conditions the truce can survive?
An important factor in preserving the truce is avoidance of provocations. For example, it is hard to speak on circumstances, which led to the accident in Troitske. It could be either a provocation or the human factor, consequence of incoordination between the groups of militants. In addition, despite the heavy weapons withdrawal, armed people remain in the conflict zone. Thus, the main problem of the truce is avoidance of provocations. And the shelling in Troitske proved it. In the future the problems may come from uncoordinated actions of militants' units and their leadership, which 'agreed' to the conditions of ceasefire.
Pavlo Klimkin, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, recently stated, that in a situation, when movement of military equipment continues and armed soldeirs are in the streets of Luhansk and Donetsk, elections just cannot be conducted. After observing elections in 2012 in Ukraine and also watching the current situation in the East, how do you assess a perspective of elections in Donbas?
The so-called 'republics' have no independence there, including their decisions on elections. And it is hard to imagine any democratic procedures under current conditions. For example, Ukrainian parties and international observers must have an access to elections, there are many other requirements to election process, as it is about voting as a democratic procedure. It is hard to imagine how it would be conducted there.
What is the prevailing mood among the people?
No one comes outside to watch how tanks move along the streets as it was before. People are extremely bored by the nightmares of war. However, they still hope for peace.