Putin sees Medvedchuk as governor of Donetsk, sources say


War in Donbas

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted on the participation of Viktor Medvedchuk in the tripartite peace negotiations in the Donbas not simply because he is Putin’s confidant. Putin’s main goal is to make Medvedchuk, head of the Ukrainian Choice movement (pro-Russian political organization — Ed.), the governor of the Donetsk Oblast and then to return him to Ukrainian politics, reports ZN.UA, citing a source in Moscow close to the entourage of the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych.

According to the source, the involvement of the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in the “whitewashing” of Medvechuk was a necessary part of the plan. The mechanism to achieve Putin’s goal is to make Medvechuk governor of the Donetsk Oblast. Nestor Shufrych (Party of Regions deputy — Ed.), who is also participating in the negotiations, would be made governor of Luhansk. Then, once Medvedchuk heads up the Donetsk Oblast State Administration, he would be able to take advantage of the built-in pluses — the resources of the most populated region in Ukraine — to maintain his political power in future parliamentary elections.

It is expected that the issue of Medvedchuk’s governorship will be raised (or has already been raised) during confidential negotiations between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, the source believes.

The source, who was part of the group involved in the preparation and management of the negotiations, said that during the second meeting of the group, in Donetsk, Friday, June 27, Medvedchuk did not take an active part in the discussions and was mostly silent. However, during the meetings he would repeatedly go out to consult with the separatists. The source said it appeared that Medvedchuk was advising the representatives of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) and the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) on what concessions with Kyiv to accept and which ones to reject.

As previously reported, on June 27, in Donetsk, a second round of consultations of the se-called tripartite contact group took place to resolve the situation in the Donbas. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed to Angela Merkel’s proposal to include Medvedchuk as mediator in the group. The meeting was attended by representatives of the militants of DPR and LPR, Victor Medvedchuk, national deputy Nestor Shufrych, former president Leonid Kuchma and others.

However, as  NEWSru.ua points out, the spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Volodymyr Chepovyy, declared at a press briefing that Viktor Medvedchuk and Nestor Shufrych were not authorized to represent the Ukrainian side at the tripartite meetings in Donetsk. “Kuchma represents the Ukrainian side in the tripartite contact group,” he said, adding that “Medvedchuk is not the Ukrainian side.”

Former president Leonid Kravchuk also says he does not understand Medvedchuk’s role in the negotiations with terrorists in the Donbas. “What is happening today, these consultative meetings, is not clear to me at all. I don’t know whom Medvedchuk represents — perhaps Mrs. Mekel?” he said.

The tripartite contact group negotiating peace in the Donbas includes Ukraine’s second president Leonid Kuchma, OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini, and Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zubarov. During a telephone conversation with Poroshenko, Putin, and French President François Hollande, Angela Merkel suggested that Medvedchuk be included as a mediator in the tripartite group. Petro Poroshenko and the other participants in the conversation agreed.

Translation: Anna Mostovych

Sources: ZN.UA, NEWSru.ua

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