Text below is part II of a transcript of a talk by Sergei Baryshnikov, professor of political science and former rector of the National University of Donetsk. The talk was delivered on April 16, 2015 to a group of foreign writers and journalists. Translation and editing by NewColdWar.org.
Today, we are transitioning to a dual currency system of rubles and hryvnia. Our students have begun getting their first bursaries. We are gradually entering, de facto, the Russian financial and economical space. This is more important, even, than our international recognition. Even though we are waiting and hoping that soon we will be both officially and legally recognized. But in order for this to happen, we need to strengthen our potential and expand our borders to those administrative borders that Donetsk Region previously had.
The Minsk ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015
The agreement is not being respected either way. There wasn’t a day when its conditions were fulfilled. Primarily, it is the Ukrainian side which is failing to do so.
We are inevitably committed to expansion to regain the historic territory of Donetsk and Lugansk presently occupied by Kyiv forces… I want you to understand and pass on to your readers and your audiences that the objective picture, the objective reality, forces us to begin the liberation of those territories. You can call that expansion, but we must do it.
We need to control our water resources, which are in our north. We have deposits of salt, a strategic product which will help us enter not only the Russian market but the world market. The Severskiy Donetsk Channel supplies our whole former territory with water, and near Artemovsk there are huge deposits of salt. We could have a monopoly in the whole of Eurasia. And, of course, in the south we have the metallurgical plants and an exit to the sea through Mariupol.
Ideally, we need to consolidate all of Donbas. During June and July of last year, the first attempts were made to consolidate the DPR and Lugansk People’s Republic. Oleg Tsarev proposed a scheme to create a coordinating representative body that would act on behalf of both republics. Later, if everything went well, it could act on behalf of other republics. It was named the Parliament of Novorossiya.
Political parties in Donetsk
There isn’t a single political party in DPR today. Today we have only social movements and socio-political associations—’proto-parties’. Based on the social organization called ‘Donetsk Republic’, it has been decided to create a party which would probably dominate here. Some leaders of the DPR have such plans in mind. They are planning a project to create a party similar to the Communist Party of Soviet Union during Soviet times. It will be a leading party called ‘Donetsk Republic’.
I am personally against this project. Because we will repeat the same mistakes and repeat the sad experience and therefore the unfortunate destiny of the late Soviet epoch and the fairly recent experience that we had here of one party [Party of Regions] monopoly and domination.
The intellectual level is not sufficient. There are not enough experts and professionals. A lot of former activists of the Party of Regions are already in Donetsk Republic taking leading or secondary positions.
I would, instead, like to see a truly democratic system, so that initiatives would come from the bottom, from territorial communities and even from working collectives. There should be political representation of all basic social groups of the population–from businessmen to farmers and workers. Otherwise, we will once again have a monopolist party which will control the main trade unions and professional associations–where all people will be administratively ‘invited’ to be members–and it will be in charge of youth movements. There will be a vertical range of power but not a horizontal one.
To follow the Chinese path [of one party rule], we need to be Chinese. The whole world divides into the Chinese and the rest. No, we are not trying to adapt the Chinese system. We need a democracy which, according to the before-revolution experience, will have horizontal lines of power and representation of territorial communes as well as vertical power representing those of the political right, left and centre.
State intervention in the economy
At the beginning of the events I have mentioned, socialist and semi-socialist ideas were very strong. But as of now, I believe that a mixed economy will be developed because that’s the only option. Private property and private business within certain borders are essential in the modern world.
We managed to achieve military success. Not victory, but certain success. We have resisted. We all understand that it would not be possible without Russia’s help. But Putin’s politics, I mean politics by Putin personally, turned out to be so unique, exclusive and subtle that Russia is not a direct participant of the conflict. And at the same time, it provides us with protection. We are under Russia’s protection. This is a very interesting fact for future historians.
Donbas as part of Ukraine?
In conclusion, I would like to say and emphasize, and maybe you can pass this on to your readers, that almost 24 years ago, Moscow, as the capital of the Soviet Empire, let Ukraine go and obtain its sovereignty: That was done without a single drop of blood spilled.
Therefore, Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, should treat Donbas as they were treated 24 years ago. They should act peacefully. If Donbas wants to live without Ukraine, either as part of Russia or with its own sovereignty, let it be. There is no point in trying to forcefully keep us as part of Ukraine.
Since Kyiv has not done this, which should have been done in the spring or beginning of summer one year ago, now we are objectively interested in the disintegration of Ukraine and a construction of Novorossiya on part of its former territories…
I, personally, was dissatisfied with the whole 23 years of our existence within Ukraine. I didn’t conduct any kind of subversive activities, didn’t form any subversive organizations, but I always believed that we would not stay as part of Ukraine for long.
Overall, the territory of current Ukraine–more precisely, Ukraine before Euromaidan–is a result of totalitarianism, of Bolshevik, communist, totalitarian policy. They are destroying monuments of Lenin, but he created Ukraine in its modern borders. One hundred years ago, Lenin said that Donbas should forget about being Russian. There is documented evidence of this, But the events we discussed before simply confirm that even after 100 years, Donbas hasn’t forgotten that it’s Russian.
This is not about ethnic purity or belonging, it is about historical truth. Donbas appeared as an historical product of the politics of Russia, as its economic, geopolitical and geographic product. Now Donbas is going through a difficult process of returning back to Russia, of that I am sure.