Donetsk separatist referendum organizer: “Return to Ukraine is inevitable, Donbas is Ukraine”

Former head of so-called DNR Central Electoral Commission Roman Lyagin, one of masterminds behind the 2014 separatist Donetsk referendum. Photo: FB Roman Lyagin

Roman Lyagin, the former head of the so-called DNR Central Electoral Commission, one of masterminds behind the 2014 separatist Donetsk referendum. Photo: FB Roman Lyagin 

News, War in the Donbas

Roman Lyagin, one of the masterminds behind the illegitimate separatist referendum in Donetsk, expressed his disappointment in Russia and in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). Now he says pretty much what pro-Ukrainian Donbas activists keep telling since 2014, that the Donbas is Ukraine.

First, the Ukrainian online newspaper Segodnya.ua published a recent Facebook comment by Roman Lyagin in which he calls the DNR “a parody of a state” being “kept afloat by internal terror”:

“Ivan, you are an adult person and I am sure that you didn’t get rid of your Ukrainian passport. What we call DNR is a parody of a state. In 2014 people voted to join Russia. If the referendum would be held today, its results would be the opposite. People were fooled, including by myself. Today DNR is kept afloat by internal terror.”

In their article, the newspaper called Lyagin the former head of the so-called DNR Central Electoral Commission. It was his position in the fake pro-Russian Donetsk government in 2014-2016.

Commenting on the piece by Segodnya.ua on his Facebook page, Roman Lyagin was even more lavish in praises of Ukraine (archived post):

Translation:
“To the authors of the article – I’m not “the former head of so-called…,” I am the organizer of the referendum and I am responsible for undermining the Ukrainian 2014 election. I did what I did by my convictions, devoutly and in full force. Because I believed in Russia which would not forsake us. But it has forsaken us and thrown us under the tanks. Thousands of people are being slaughtered like cattle for a TV picture.
The Donbas is not destined to go Crimea’s way [i.e. it won’t be annexed by Russia – YZ]! We were betrayed and sold!
For what did we fight and die? Let everyone answer to themselves.
And what, was everything in vain? Yes, the Russia we imagined doesn’t exist or maybe has never existed. In order to return to normal life, resume operation of the enterprises, returning to Ukraine is inevitable. The Donbas is Ukraine.”

In April 2016, having a conflict with members of so-called DNR government,  Roman Lyagin was dismissed and arrested in Donetsk. Later he was released and fled to occupied Crimea. This probably explains why Lyagin has become a DNR critic.

  • Illegal referendums on the status of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts were staged by Russian-hybrid forces on 11 May 2014 in many towns under the control of so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, self-proclaimed pro-Russian statelets in the Ukrainian territory.
  • Just a few polling stations were opened in each town to create an illusion of huge turnout for Russian TV.
  • The referendums were preceded by heavy anti-Ukrainian propaganda on local and Russian state-run TV channels, social media, billboards.
  • The results of Donetsk referendum were known in advance, on 7 May 2014, 5 days before the referendums, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) published a taped conversation of Russian far-right leader Alexandr Barkashov in which he requested 89% in favor of self-rule in Donetsk from Dmytro Boitsov, one of the separatist leaders. The requested results (89% for the “the Act of State Self-rule of the DNR”) matched with announced (89.07%).
  • The results of both referendums were not officially recognized by any country. Even the Russian government expressed “respect” for the results, but didn’t recognize them.
  • A poll held on 8-16 April 2014 by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology revealed that 41.1% of the Donetsk residents supported a decentralized unified state, 38.4% supported a federalized Ukraine, 27.5% were in favor of seceding from Ukraine to join Russia, 10.6% supported the current unitary structure with no change.
    Read also: Ukraine has not “lost” uncontrolled Donbas yet, new poll shows
  • Independent observers were not present to monitor the referendums.
  • Legally, territorial changes can only be approved via a referendum if citizens of the entire Ukraine participate in voting.

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