Updated at 11:47,31-03-2020

Belarus shelters separatists’ aiders (video, ENG)

Volha Starastsina, In Focus, Belsat

Where do Ukrainian officials who cooperated with terrorists flee? Belarus has become a second home for Vladimir Pavlenko, the so-called ‘people’s Mayor’ of Sloviansk which was liberated by Ukrainian army. Last week Mr Pavlenko arrived in Minsk and now he is seeking a job. In an exclusive interview to Belsat TV the former official told about day-to-day realities of ‘the Donetsk People’s Republic’.

English subtitles:

VLADIMIR PAVLENKO, former ‘people’s Mayor’:
‘There was no unified leadership over the people who came to power. They didn’t discern their aims either. They did’t know what they wanted to gain – to merge in Russia or to form ‘Novorossiya’. In fact, it is the media that thought out and distributed the term Novorossiya. Will this be the Donetsk People’s Republic or the Luhansk People’s Republic? Or federation?’

But the people in power did have their own aims. Mr Pavlenko can’t help criticising his predecessor, Viacheslav Ponomaryov.

VLADIMIR PAVLENKO, former ‘people’s Mayor’:
‘The word ‘wrestling’ is very popular nowadays. They ‘wrestled’ cars and firms away from entrepreneurs. Ponomaryov’s administration was involved in such schemes.’

After two-month being in office Mr Ponomaryov was removed, and his post was offered to Mr Pavlenko.

VLADIMIR PAVLENKO, former ‘people’s Mayor’:
‘I had my official documents. While driving I was stopped by one of Strelkov aides. ‘As Ponomaryov is to be dismissed today and none of top brass are here, from this moment on you will be doing his duties,’ he said.’

Now separatists’ appointee claims he actively cooperated with … the Ukrainian side.

VLADIMIR PAVLENKO, former ‘people’s Mayor’:
‘I addressed to the Ukrainian authorities, e.g. Mr Lukyanchenko, Mayor of Donetsk. Donetsk has provided a lot of humanitarian aid. All Donetsk districts collected humanitarian aid – food, medicines, articles of daily necessity, which were delivered to Sloviansk every day.’

Moreover, Ukraine paid salaries to Sloviansk officials and policemen on regular basis. But Sloviansk received humanitarian aid from OSCE, Red Cross and … Russia.

This scheme might last for long, but terrorists left the city of Sloviansk as fast as they once appeared there.

VLADIMIR PAVLENKO, former ‘people’s Mayor’:
‘They reiterated they would never abandon the city and would stand to the end. But suddenly they fled at night without any warning’.

Then the so-called Mayor had to leave his native city: he suggested that the Ukrainian authorities would ask him questions on his cooperation with terrorists. But now the escapee is telling our journalists about it. The full version of the interview (in Russian) is here.