MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. The Donbass population’s tolerance towards Kiev’s nationalities policy was its main mistake. They should have begun to protest long before 2014, the head of the representative office of the Lugansk People's Republic in Moscow, Rodion Miroshnik, told TASS in an interview.
"Yes, we swallowed what had happened to the accompaniment of Kravchuk’s honeyed rhetoric (the first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk - TASS) that everything will be the same as it has been. ‘We’ll just put up a fence around our garden and we will live in one cooperative. The Russian language? How can we do without it? How can we be against the Russians? How can we sever economic ties?’ we were told. Yes, how? They did break them very easily. And the Russian language was banned. The Westerners were given priority in power. Russian speakers began to be ousted from the central government," Miroshnik said.
He explained that in Donbass "the concept of nationality is extremely vague." Historically people of different nationalities and ethnic groups were settling there.
"This ethnic identity which began to be actively imposed from Western Ukraine had never been ours. It was like this: okay, well, there will be another language. This tolerance, probably, played a cruel joke on us," Miroshnik said.
He recalled that in a referendum in 1994 a vast majority of Donbass residents voted in favor of maintaining the status of the Russian language, special laws were adopted in the region, and all official paper work was in Russian.
"But all that had a very tolerant and decent form. We believed that we should act very correctly, and that was our mistake. Even then they pressed us with such zeal that it required retaliatory action, and a very tough one. We should have nipped that pressure in the bud, because in reality no one was going to let us retain our identity. Donbass made a great mistake by taking this tolerant and kind attitude towards multi-nationality. As a result, we were pushed aside. We could not tear ourselves away from Russia. This explains why we rose in revolt in 2014, but it was too late," Miroshnik concluded.