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Avakov unveils own vision of Donbas return strategy

The minister believes that Donbas reintegration may take a decade.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov unveiled his vision of Donbas return strategy during the VIII National Expert Forum by Gorshenin Institute on 28 November.

"Peacekeepers with the Ukrainian forces are deployed along the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine. All foreign troops are withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine. The Russian Federation takes all these semi-bandit organizations that they change like gloves. They are replaced by legitimate bodies. No militias, no special prosecutors and freedoms, everything should be in the legislative field of Ukraine," the minister said.

After that, in Avakov's opinion, comes the time for "the tactics of small steps", each of which should improve the quality of life for the residents of Donbas.

"It gives us the opportunity to ensure some rehabilitation within the timeframe of five, seven, maybe ten years. This path will require enormous financial resources so it must be clearly understood: we will need international assistance," Avakov said.

Avakov later added that within the reintegration of Donbas local elections should be held, but the election of deputies to Ukrainian parliament from these areas should be postponed for a few years.

"My deep conviction is that, like in Spain or the Balkans, elections to the Ukrainian parliament in the occupied territories should not be held for five to seven years. This is a normal international practice. People need to cool down a bit. As regards local governments, fake puppet administrations should be replaced by newly-elected executive bodies. I do believe that the political sympathies of these [councils] are irrelevant. For some time, they will be largely pro-Russian but their function must be ensuring the quality of life rather than political matters," Avakov said.