LUGANSK, December 9. /TASS/. Most people who had to leave their homes in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) because of shelling have returned back, LPR head Igor Plotnitsky said on Tuesday.
“Most of those who fled the Lugansk republic because of shelling by the Ukrainian army have returned home,” he said, adding that only about ten percent of the republic’s population preferred not to come back.
Earlier on Tuesday, he said that the regime of silence declared in eastern Ukraine on December 9 had not been violated in the LPR. “According to our information, the regime of silence has not been violated on the first day. No shooting of shelling has been reported since the moment this regime was imposed,” he said, adding that the town of Pervomaisk had been shelled in the morning, before the regime of silence was imposed.
An intention to introduce a moratorium on combat actions was made public by President Pyotr Poroshenko on December 4. The initiative was welcomed by officials of the self-proclaimed independence-minded Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the Donetsk republic said the ceasefire had been declared as far back as September 5 at a meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine in Minsk.
“We didn’t violate it on a single occasion,” he said. “All the violations have been committed by the Ukrainian Army. If the Ukrainian side doesn’t open fire, we won’t open it either.”
Andrei Lysenko, an official spokesman for the National Security and Defence Council said the objective of the Day of Silence was give a start to the fulfilling of Minsk agreements - that is, to begin the pullback of heavy weaponry, to release prisoners, to clear minefields, and to begin demilitarization of the region.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at OSCE /Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/-mediated talks on September 5 in Belarusian capital. On September 20 in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5. The document contains nine points, including in particular a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions. The document was signed by OSCE envoy Heidi Tagliavini, Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, DPR Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko and the head of Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Igor Plotnitsky.