Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has shown interest in the idea of creating administrations in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which would be led by people who would suit both Kyiv and Moscow, the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. Ukraine (Mirror Weekly) newspaper wrote citing its sources.
"According to our information, Putin has confirmed his readiness to replace [current leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander] Zakharchenko and [leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic Igor] Plotnitsky by less disreputable persons. As far as we know, Poroshenko has expressed interest in '[leader of the Ukrainian Choice public movement, Ukraine's special representative for humanitarian affairs in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group Viktor] Medvedchuk's plan', which envisages the formation of administrations in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which would be headed by people who would suit both Kyiv and Moscow. Viktor Volodymyrovych [Medvedchuk] himself, apparently suggested as the candidates for this post [Ukrainian business tycoon] Rinat Akhmetov and [businessman and Opposition Bloc leader] Yuriy Boiko to Petro Oleksiyovych [Poroshenko]. The president allegedly liked the said candidates," the article says.
The source of the newspaper also said that Poroshenko held preliminary talks with both the candidates, and they both allegedly agreed.
"Putin has been shown this proposal, but he hasn't provided his consent yet... For instance, Putin doesn't trust Rinat Akhmetov much. His trust was undermined both by Akhmetov's position of sitting on the fence and by the positive remarks which [U.S. Assistant State Secretary] Victoria Nuland made about the Ukrainian oligarch during the summer visit of Secretary of State [John] Kerry to Sochi. Boiko enjoys Kremlin's trust. But should they remove Boiko as the head of the Opposition Bloc amid the lack of other leaders? Should they risk the leader of so far the only pro-Russian force in the Ukrainian parliament? Or should they create a launching pad in Luhansk for him to make a move on Kyiv? How much will it cost the Kremlin?" the author of the article, the first deputy chief editor of the weekly, Serhiy Rahmanin, writes.
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In addition, the publication's sources say that Poroshenko is considering the possibility of holding a referendum in which citizens of Ukraine should express their attitude to the idea of the autonomy of the annexed territories of Donbas. "Recently, according to our sources, he several times has revisited the idea, which he himself dismissed in 2015. We are talking about the possibility of holding a referendum in which citizens of Ukraine will express their attitude to the idea of the autonomy of the seized territories of Donbas."
According to Rakhmanin, the head of state is concerned by purely technical matter: "After the elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, de facto these areas will still not be under Kyiv's control, but they will be considered as such de jure, and local residents will be able to regain their right to participate in national elections. In any case, Moscow has raised this issue. "