Russian parliament committee proposes creation of tourist zones in separatist republics in Eastern Ukraine

On Wednesday, May 17, an exhibition titled the “Industrial Heritage of the Donbas” will be opened in the State Duma, RBC news agency reported. It will be organized by MP Iosif Kobzon from the “Yedinaya Rossiya” (United Russia) party and the Lower House Committee for Culture, two sources from the Committee for Culture told RBC. From the unrecognized republics, Eduard Golenko, acting Minister of the Coal Industry of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is expected to speak at the exhibition, one source told RBC. The final list of guests is still being discussed, and other representatives of the DPR and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) could appear at the exposition, the source added.

The organizers of the exhibition are proposing the creation of a “post-industrial landscape recreational park”. “This will lead to the emergence of a strong tourist cluster” the draft description of the event notes.

Earlier at the State Duma there were repeated calls for the recognition of the self-declared DPR and LPR, as well as for a simplification of the legislation for residents of the unrecognized territories. In April, the party “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (a Just Russia) introduced a draft law which makes it easier for residents of the territories not controlled by Ukraine to acquire Russian citizenship.

Despite the activity of the deputies on matters regarding the unrecognized republics, the Duma work group for analysis of Ukrainian legislature with Vyacheslav Volodin has not convened. This group came into being and functioned under Sergey Naryshkin, former spokesperson of the State Duma, the last time it was convened. At the same time, in the Federation Council, the Committee for Social Support of South-Eastern Ukraine, created in 2014 at the initiative of Upper House Spokesperson Valentin Matvienko, is continuing to operate.

Returning to the topic of the DPR and LPR at the State Duma does not mean returning to the topic of recognizing these territories, political scientist Alexey Makarkin told RBC. “Official recognition would be too large a conflict. Now the situation is developing more similarly to the Transnistrian scenario. Ideally, Russia would like these territories to return to Ukraine, but under conditions which do not suit Kyiv, that is, with effectively independent status,” he commented to RBC.

“Signals must be sent to the population of the unrecognized republics,” and hence the State Duma is organizing such events with representatives of the DPR and LPR, Makarkin observed. “But these signals remain precisely measured so as not to cause an escalation with the West,” the expert added.

  Russia, Donbas, State Duma, LPR, DPR