MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. The mass issuance of passports of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) will start for its residents within the next few days, DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko said during a question and answer session with Donbass residents broadcast by the Donetsk News Agency's website.
Zakharchenko said the issuance was to have started back on May 30. The delay, he said, was caused by a number of technical reasons, first of all the necessity to collect a sufficient number of forms.
He made it clear that the ideas to issue Russian passports remained in the past.
"Talks of that were held even since the day of the referendum, but today we issue passports of the Donetsk People’s Republic and are proud of that," Zakharchenko said.
Deep crisis embraced Ukraine at the end of 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014. The coup claimed dozens of lives.
After the coup, mass protests soon erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, mostly Russian speakers, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
In response, Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of "an antiterrorism operation" in east Ukraine, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists, many of whom hold far-right and neo-Nazi views.
Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fighting with local militias during Kiev’s punitive operation, underway since mid-April 2014, against the breakaway territories - the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics constituting parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in the area.
The West and Ukraine have accused Russia of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow has constantly dismissed allegations that Russia could in any way be involved in destabilization in the neighboring country.
Participants of the Contact Group on settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine on April 29, 2016 agreed on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter to establish a regular "regime of silence" starting from midnight April 30. But the militia and Kiev’s army keep accusing each other of truce violations.
Participants of the Contact Group on February 12, 2015 signed in Minsk the Package of Measures on implementation of the Minsk Agreements, earlier agreed with members of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine).
The document, dubbed "Minsk-2", envisions in particular pardon through enactment of a law forbidding persecution and punishment of people in relation to events in Donbass, cessation of fire, withdrawal of heavy armaments from the contact line.
It also stipulates start of dialogue on restoration of social and economic ties of Kiev and Donbass, as well as reform of the Ukrainian constitution aimed at decentralization and strengthening of the "special status of separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions".