On November 11th, sensational news out of Lugansk caused heated discussion on both sides of the front of the struggle against Ukrainian Nazism. The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lugansk People’s Republic and representative of the LPR to the Minsk Group, Vladislav Deynego, claimed that the Lugansk People’s Republic is ready to surrender its name in order to improve its negotiating position.
According to Deynego, if the LPR changes its name to reflect how it is referred to in international documents, then Lugansk could strengthen its negotiating position in dialogue with Ukraine.
In official Ukrainian documents, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic are termed “special districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.” Deynego has thus proposed to use these names for the Donbass republics.
Several days before, Deynego made another sensational statement, claiming that the LPR could potentially go back to being part of Ukraine. In Deynego’s opinion, this is the demand of the international community, and Lugansk has “no chance” of opposing such.
First and foremost, let us remind the reader that on May 11th, 2014, the residents of the Lugansk region held a referendum in which, often at the risk of their lives, more than 96% of people voted for the independence of the Lugansk People’s Republic. Referenda are the most important institutions of direct democracy and have a high legal status.
Vladislav Deynego, meanwhile, is merely a representative of the official bureaucracy, an appointed official, not an elected representative of the people. Therefore, he has no right to amend or cancel the results of the referendum. Let us quote Points 1-4 of Article 2 of the Constitution of the Lugansk People’s Republic:
1. The source of power in the Lugansk People’s Republic is its people.
2. The people exercises their power directly as well as through bodies of state power and bodies of local self-government.
3. Referenda and free elections are the supreme direct expression of the will of the people.
4. The misappropriation of ruling authority or seizure of power are unacceptable.
In effect, Deynego is trying to undo the results of popular self-determination, which is a state crime according to Point 4 of Article 2.
Deynego has committed not only a legal crime, but also a moral one. For almost four years, the republic has been in a state of war, and any discontinuation of the name “republic” also means neglecting the memory of all the victims of Ukrainian Nazism and leveling the LPR’s astounding victories. Thousands of men, women, and children have died for the land called none other than the Lugansk People’s Republic. It should therefore be no surprise that Deynego’s words have caused a storm of indignation both inside the country and beyond.
In fact, Deynego’s pronouncements only hurt the Donbass republics’ positions in negotiations with Ukraine, as they will undoubtedly be used by the Ukrainian side and US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.
The head of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky, has since held a press conference in which he rather passionately stated that it is he who determines the republic’s foreign policy, not the acting foreign minister.
This brings us to Lugansk politics. Deynego can be seen as a representative of the fledgling quasi-political class that is now the scourge of Donbass, as I’ve written about for Fort Russ and the Center for Syncretic Studies many times before. This bureaucrat’s authority, as that of other quasi-politicians in the DPR and LPR, is extremely low. While such people can be tolerated as long as they do not disrupt the defense of the republics, I believe that Deynego has crossed the line and fully deserves the extreme ire he has drawn upon himself. As my partners in Lugansk have suggested, Deynego’s “mistakes” of this sort are the result of his blatant incompetence and lack of professionalism. One of these colleagues of mine who knows Deynego personally, asked him about his motives for such a statement, to which Deynego replied that he simply thought such would be better for the republic.
In many of the analyses and commentaries on Deynego’s scandalous statements that have since surfaced, one often encounters accusations that Deynego is working for Ukraine. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations. Nevertheless, regardless of whether this official truly thinks he is doing best, his mistake has been so gross and so detrimental to the negotiation process that he should in the very least be removed from heading the Lugansk People’s Republic’s foreign ministry.
Originally published on fort-russ.com