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Meeting with Acting Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik

August 23, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a working meeting at the Kremlin with Acting Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: How is it going, Mr Pasechnik?

Acting Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik: All right, thank you.

Mr President, I would like to report that, unfortunately, the situation in the republic remains tense. However, I must point out that it is quite stable without any major escalation. Of course, this tension results from the fact that the line of contact passes through part of the territory of the republic or is very close to it. In fact, a full-scale war is unfolding along this line. However, the relative stability we have been able to achieve and the way we expect the situation to develop enable us to deliver on the objectives we face.

(Leonid Pasechnik went on to talk about efforts to form the executive bodies of the Lugansk People’s Republic, the local government, and about defining the legal standing of the regional agencies as per the federal law, as well as ensuring that the budget system becomes fully operational. Mr Pasechnik pointed out that the new ministries were working on the national projects, federal programmes and the republic’s socioeconomic development programmes for 2023–2025).

In keeping with your Executive Order, we have established the Lugansk People’s Republic’s defence headquarters. It performs its mission by bringing together all law enforcement agencies and other relevant ministries and agencies. Its main task is to arrange effective cooperation in the decision-making process and undertake initiatives aimed at defending our national border, including our republic, from the Ukrainian aggression. We are organising activities aimed at providing maximum assistance and support to the service personnel serving along the line of contact. Overall, we live according to the principle “everything for the front, everything for victory.” Of course, the main objective for us is to spare no effort in delivering on the tasks you have assigned to us as part of the special military operation as quickly as possible.

(Leonid Pasechnik also reported on efforts to prepare the elections, to be held on Single Voting Day in September, and on setting up an elections headquarters and the territorial election commissions. He said that enabling all people in the Lugansk People’s Republic to cast their votes and ensuring safety during elections were the main objectives in this regard.)

I must tell you about construction and restoration efforts in the republic. First of all, I would like to express immense gratitude to you personally for the decision you made last year to enlist the support of Russian regions in restoring the republic and rebuilding the infrastructure and the local economy. This initiative has produced great results so far. Regions are offering very tangible and valuable help, so I would like to also thank the governors and representatives working on the ground and, of course, the construction workers who have made it happen.

All this work has been organised by the Government of our great country, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin. I want to say a huge thank you to them. The scale of the construction projects is enormous.

Since last spring and to date, hundreds of kilometres of roads and water pipelines have been restored in the republic. We are repairing underground communications, power lines, and the residential buildings in the metropolitan area of northern Donetsk, including Severodonetsk, Lisichansk, Rubezhnoye and Kremennaya. We are helping people, understanding their difficult situation and trying to provide them with at least bearable living conditions.

I want to emphasise, absolutely sincerely, that, surely, Donbass has not seen this amount of care and goodwill since Soviet times.

The republic is transforming in front of our eyes. People have noticed this and the changes are having a positive effect on the social wellbeing of local residents.

To summarise, I want to say that history must be teaching us another lesson because today, we are recovering, and our unity is making us stronger and wiser.

I am certain that there are no tasks that we could not accomplish together. I am certain that we will achieve all our goals. I want to assure you that the Lugansk People’s Republic has a team that can do its work well. We may lack some professionalism or knowledge of the nuances of Russian law, but our people are true patriots who are used to working hard. And we can fulfil all the tasks set by you, the Government and our local administration.

We will certainly overcome the challenges of history today and further ahead.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, all the goals you mentioned cannot be achieved before solving the main problem – ensuring security. Now, as you can see, the situation on the line of contact is stable. Moreover, I take an occasional look at what the other side is doing and I get the impression that they are sending their people into minefields, under our artillery strikes as if they were not their own – as if they were not their citizens at all. It is amazing. It is their business and their problem of course, and as for our problems, we certainly need to think about restoring the economy and the social sphere on a solid security foundation.

And actually… Yes, I do see that you are growing and restoring industry, but this is recovery, and we need to ensure that the economy recovers, that this goal is achieved, and then you can move on.

As to the social situation, economically, too, I would say the main problem is that people’s incomes remain modest, to put it mildly, while prices are rising.

There are very obvious issues such as the need to restore housing, public services, communications, engineering networks, utilities, and so on. But these are regular everyday issues, as they say, and I am sure that your team will be able to solve them.

Still, I know that in the days of old – I mean, until recently, you never used to work on purely economic and administrative issues. Your job was security, but things have changed of late, and you and your team are trying your best to address the problems facing the republic now and ensure that these problems are resolved. And I see that, on the whole, you are doing well.

You certainly need to keep in touch with the people directly, receive their feedback; we are trying to arrange this in every region across the country, but it is all the more important in your region because the situation is complicated enough and requires people to stay focused and ready for serious work. And I see from the past few months’ results, even the past 18 months, that your people are certainly talented.

Leonid Pasechnik: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: And I just know that not one of them is expecting any handouts, no one is going cap in hand – everyone is ready to work, and they want to work, and they know how to work. We will certainly do everything we can to promote this positive process and very positive attitude. We just need to support people.

The issues concerning Russian laws are important, but not a top priority. The region certainly needs to fully integrate into Russia’s legal system, but most importantly, you need to establish good cooperation with government agencies so that we can work together to integrate the Lugansk People's Republic into the projects that are funded from Russia, so that we will be able to achieve the same goals in the Lugansk Republic as in the country as a whole. And gradually, there is no doubt, we will solve many problems for the benefit of the people who live there.

As for the upcoming elections – I know it will not be easy to organise the voting in your situation, but with the support of the federal centre, I am sure you will do it, I have no doubts. But most importantly, in any election campaign it is essential to show the people that your entire team is ready to solve their problems and can do it, acting in the best interests of the people who live in the region. All the more so since, I have seen some statistics on people returning, that is, you have a positive migration inflow.

Therefore, I certainly wish you all the very best, and we will definitely help.

Leonid Pasechnik: Thank you very much, Mr President.

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August 23, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow