December 3, 2023

Ein Soldat der Miliz der „Volksrepublik“ Donezk vor einer zerstörten  Moschee im von  Separatisten kontrollierten Gebiet in Mariupol. Foto: dpa/Alexei Alexandrov

Who are the separatists? (Definition of)

Pro-Russian separatists have been active in eastern Ukraine for years. They call their lands “People’s Republics”. Are they actually independent?

In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have controlled the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014. They occupied the Donbass regions with the help of Russia and declared their independence after then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych rejected an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union in 2013.

This led to mass protests, especially in Kyiv, which became known as the European Square. The demonstrators demanded more democracy and rapprochement with the West.

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This was violently opposed by the pro-Russian separatists. They are now fighting against Ukraine. Luhansk “People’s Militia” announced on Telegram on Tuesday that the small town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region was under the control of units of the “Luhansk People’s Republic”.

The quest for independence

Separatists, the term comes from the Latin word “eparare” (to separate), and the Federal Civic Education Agency defines it as:If a part of the population wants to separate from the state in which it lives and finds its own state, then this is separatism.Scotland cites as an example, where there was a referendum on secession from the United Kingdom in 2014. In the Spanish region of Catalonia, there are also strong aspirations for independence from Spain.

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Moving to another country

According to the federal agency, in some cases “separatists not only want to separate from their state, but also want to belong to another.” For example, separatists in the Transnistria province of Moldova do not want to establish their own state, but want to join Russia, the federal agency explains.

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The “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass have been increasingly dominated by Russia since 2014. Since 2018, Kyiv has spoken of Russia as an occupying power in these regions. The Foundation for Science and Policy, which advises the Bundestag and the federal government, recognizes “dictatorial quasi-governmental structures” in the so-called “people’s republics”. Groups controlled by Russia are to blame.

Russian textbooks and the Russian national currency were introduced. According to Deutsche Welle, about 800,000 eastern Ukrainians are said to have Russian citizenship. To support and “protect” them, Kremlin President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on Ukraine on February 24.