Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Balancing Challenge for Ukraine

By Nataliya Bugayova

Key Takeaways: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s emerging policies have the potential to spur economic development but pose risks for Ukraine’s democracy and sovereignty. Zelensky has a uniquely strong public mandate and a capable and eager new team that can advance reforms. He is simultaneously consolidating power and taking steps that could endanger freedoms of speech and information. Zelensky promises to achieve peace in Eastern Ukraine within six months. He has yet to present a plan to do so without making major concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin, however. An upcoming prisoner exchange and the concessions that the Kremlin has likely secured are indicators of the strength of Putin’s pressure. Putin is posturing for peace while he continues to consolidate control over his proxies in Eastern Ukraine, suggesting that the Kremlin might be setting conditions for multiple scenarios. Putin’s campaign to gain international acceptance of Russia’s illegal behavior is continuing to advance. The West should help Ukraine balance its effort to achieve peace and preserve sovereignty, and seek to prevent the normalization of Russia’s aggression outside its borders.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed several reform-oriented professionals to key government positions and announced ambitious reform plans. The Ukrainian Parliament, in which Zelensky’s Servant of the People party (SP) holds the majority, voted for a new Cabinet of Ministers on August 29. The cabinet includes many motivated, reform-oriented ministers.[1] Zelensky pledged to make critical economic reforms, such as lifting the moratorium on the sale of Ukraine’s agricultural land, privatizing Ukraine’s state-owned enterprises, and implementing additional anti-corruption measures.[2] The Ukrainian Parliament passed a landmark reform bill on September 3 stripping lawmakers of immunity from prosecution, which corrupt parliamentarians have previously abused.[3] Zelensky’s swift action on reforms while he maintains his unprecedented mandate is a positive step for Ukraine.

Zelensky also took steps to deepen Ukraine’s partnership with the West. He met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on September 1 and August 31, respectively. Zelensky took a joint stance with Poland, stating that the European Union’s sanctions on Russia must remain in force until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.[4] The U.S., Ukraine, and Poland also signed a memorandum to diversify gas supplies for Poland and Ukraine through the purchase of liquefied gas from the U.S.[5] Ukraine continues to look for ways to enhance its energy security amid growing energy pressure from Russia.[6]

Photo: U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class T. Logan Keown

Zelenksy and his allies are consolidating power. Zelensky’s political mandate provides a unique chance to implement reforms, but his efforts to consolidate power create risks for Ukraine’s democracy. Backsliding would align with Putin’s long-term goal to ensure that Ukraine does not becomes a democracy that Russian citizens might see as a model. Ukraine and the West should pay close attention to the emergence of signs of authoritarian behavior. Zelensky’s SP party chose not to form a coalition with another political party, framing this decision as a desire to own full responsibility for the outcome of the government’s policies.[7] Zelensky chose Oleksiy Honcharuk as his prime minister. Honcharuk is a reform-oriented professional but also likely a Zelensky loyalist. Zelensky thus has strong influence over the Cabinet of Ministers. SP chairs most of the committees in the parliament. European Solidarity, the party of former president Petro Poroshenko, accused SP of violating the proportionality norm and allocating fewer chairmanships than European Solidarity’s 8% vote share warranted. [8] Ukrainian lawmakers might also be more vulnerable to pressure through politically motivated criminal charges in the short term, having lost their immunity, as Ukraine does not yet have a system of independent courts.

Zelensky retained Arseniy Avakov as Ukraine’s Interior Minister, ignoring allegations of Avakov’s involvement in several corruption cases.[9] Zelensky might believe that Avakov will be a loyal ally, as his position would at least partially depend on Zelensky’s support. Zelensky intends to subordinate Ukraine’s National Guard – a part of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry – directly to his office, as Putin did in Russia.[10] Zelensky might be attempting to limit Avakov’s de facto authority, but this change to the command structure would further consolidate Zelensky’s power.

Zelensky and his team are cracking down on select Ukrainian powerbrokers. The new cabinet voted to limit the powers of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko at Zelensky’s request.[11] Zelenksy’s team may seek to remove another Poroshenko-era official and gain control over Kyiv, Ukraine’s largest city and capital. Zelensky continues to focus on associates of Poroshenko. He ordered an audit of Porosehenko ally Yury Kosiuk’s business activities.[12] There are ongoing investigations into Valeria Gontareva, the former National Bank Governor during Poroshenko’s presidency, and into Poroshenko himself.[13] Zelensky might be preparing to take actions against some of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Zelensky stated that he has questions about the source of funding supporting Russia-linked oligarch Victor Medvedchuk on September 1, accusing him of being financed by foreign powers.[14] There are also unconfirmed reports of Zelensky targeting Ukraine’s largest oligarch, Rinat Akmetov.[15]

Some of these probes may be warranted, but they could also serve to selectively eliminate Zelensky’s rivals. Zelensky does not seem to target his supporter and Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy or Yulia Tymoshenko, Zelensky’s former opponent in the presidential race and the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” political party. Zelensky also seems to tolerate Kremlin-linked powerbrokers displaced by the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution – allies of the former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych – reentering Ukrainian politics.[16] The most recent figures in this camp include Renat Kuzmin, a fugitive Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine under Yanukovych. Kuzmin became a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. [17] Yanukovych’s notorious Health Minister Raisa Bogatyryova also returned to Ukraine in August. Ukrainian authorities arrested her upon arrival only to release her on bail paid by Russia-linked Ukrainian lawmaker Vadym Novinskyi.[18]

Zelensky’s actions raise concerns about whether freedoms of speech and information will be protected in Ukraine. Ukraine’s new cabinet stopped live broadcasting of its sessions and no longer allows journalists to attend them.[19] Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan stated that Zelensky’s team does not require intermediaries, such as journalists, to communicate with the Ukrainian people.[20] Another SP deputy verbally attacked a journalist from Novoye Vremya, one of Ukraine’s leading publications.[21]

SP gave the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech to Nestor Shufrych, who is overtly sympathetic to Russia. Shufrych was a member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, before joining the even more heavily Russia-linked Opposition Platform.[22] He voted for the notorious “dictatorship laws” of January 16, 2014, which intended to increase censorship and caused a major escalation in the 2014 Euromaidan revolution.[23] He said that “no one should be limited in what information they receive and what information they provide,” when asked how he would protect Ukraine against Russian disinformation, thus likely implying that Russian media should not be restricted in Ukraine.[24] Shufrych often gives interviews to Russian media and calls Russia’s war against Ukraine an internal Ukrainian conflict, echoing the Kremlin’s false narrative.[25] SP justified the decision to give Shufrych the position to fulfill the requirement to provide some chair positions to other parties in the parliament.[26]

SP registered a draft bill on “Electronic Communications,” which has the potential to limit civil liberties.[27] SP is framing the law as a step toward digitizing government processes in Ukraine. One of Zelensky’s stated priorities is to create a “state in a smartphone.”[28] The law, however, would obligate Ukrainians to provide passport information when buying a mobile phone SIM card. SP recalled the draft for “additional review” after Ukrainian civil society representatives criticized it.[29] The Kremlin has gradually increased identification control related to purchases of communication devices in Russia.[30]

Zelensky’s haste to establish peace in Eastern Ukraine create opportunities for the Kremlin to exploit. Zelensky has doubled down on his core election promise to restore peace promptly in Eastern Ukraine and to bring Ukrainian prisoners home – a promise he can deliver on only if Putin allows him to. Ukraine’s new Foreign Affairs Minister Vadym Prystaiko stated that the government is planning to solve the crisis in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine in six months.[31] Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov called Prystaiko’s plan “ambitious, but doubtful” and recommended that Ukraine first “stop shooting and withdraw its forces.”[32]

Zelensky has yet to share his plan for achieving peace in this short timeframe without making major concessions to Putin. ISW has repeatedly warned that Putin likely seeks a political settlement legitimizing his proxies in Donbas within Ukraine’s official state structures and reintegrating a pro-Russia bloc of voters into Ukrainian politics as a permanent lever of influence.[33] Prystaiko expressed willingness to consider elections in the occupied territories, ending Ukraine’s economic blockade against these territories, and introducing an international peacekeeping force. These measures would all provide ample opportunities for the Kremlin to exploit.[34] SP also merged the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights with the Committee on Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. [35] Zelensky or Russia-linked actors might exploit the framing of reintegration as a human rights issue to secure amnesty for Russian proxies. Russia-linked Ukrainian lawmaker Vadym Novinskyi registered a draft bill on August 29 on amnesty for all “participants of events” in Luhank and Donetsk that would include Russian-controlled proxies.[36]

The Kremlin has likely already manipulated Zelensky’s promise to secure the return of Ukrainian prisoners. Putin stated on September 5 that a large prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine will be finalized shortly.[37] The statement came after Ukraine released Volodymyr Tsemakh, a potential suspect and key witness in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 by Russia-controlled forces in 2014, despite numerous European requests not to extradite Tsemakh to Russia.[38] This concession might be a result of the Kremlin’s manipulative actions last week. Multiple sources, including some officials from Zelensky’s team, stated on August 30 that Russian-held Ukrainian prisoners were on their way to Ukraine, though Zelensky’s administration later criticized these statements as premature.[39] Ukrainian National Security Council Secretary Oleksandr Danilyuk and relatives of the prisoners spent hours at the airport in anticipation of their arrival.[40] The exchange did not take place, however. A number of unconfirmed reports suggested that Putin demanded inclusion of Tsemakh as an additional concession. It remains difficult to assess the real dynamics behind the prisoner exchange from open source information. Putin might have led Zelensky to believe that Zelensky was close to achieving the swap last week to extort additional concessions, such as Tsemakh, and gain additional leverage in advance of potential negotiations with Ukraine. Putin might have also been testing Zelensky and ways to undermine his political standing.

The Ukrainian and international narrative on Russia continues to drift in the Kremlin’s favor. French President Emmanuel Macron said on August 27 that “pushing Russia from Europe is a profound strategic error,” and that Europe “will never be stable or secure, if we don't clarify our relations with Russia.”[41] Macron also expressed willingness to consider Russia’s return to the G7 (organization of advanced industrial economies), though the G7 has not reached consensus on the issue.[42] Ukrainian oligarch and Zelensky supporter Ihor Kolomoyskiy suggested on August 28 that Ukraine should offer to lift part of the sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Donbas in order to help Ukraine negotiate an end to the war. [43] Zelensky’s speech on Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24 focused on achieving peace and unity and did not explicitly mention Russia as an aggressor.[44]

Such rhetoric helps Putin’s multi-year effort to normalize Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its illegal behavior globally. Normalization will have significant consequences for Ukraine and the West.[45] Putin and the Kremlin’s top officials also met with the leaders of several European countries, including France, Germany, and Finland, in August in a likely attempt to rally support for the Kremlin’s version of a peace deal in Ukraine that could help lift sanctions against Russia.[46]

Russia is posturing for peace, but its proxies are not – a potential indicator that the Kremlin is setting conditions for multiple scenarios. Putin continues to express “cautious optimism” about Zelensky.[47] Putin will likely conduct the prisoner swap with Ukraine despite the initial false start. The Kremlin is also taking preparatory steps to engage in a likely Normandy Four meeting in September along with Ukraine, France, and Germany.[48]

The rhetoric of the leaders of the Russian-controlled, self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR)” and “Luhansk People's Republics (LNR)” does not demonstrate a desire to reconcile with Ukraine, however. LNR officials stated that the LNR’s only path forward is together with the Russian Federation, while DNR officials dismissed Kyiv’s rhetoric about reconciliation as “just talk.”[49] The DNR and LNR held major celebrations in honor of Russia’s Flag Day on August 22 and installed Russian flags on their administrative buildings – a change from their usual display of DNR and LNR flags.[50] Zelensky might face more friction than he expects with the DNR and the LNR in his reconciliation efforts. The Kremlin can choose to tame its proxies. The Kremlin, however, can also choose to seize on the inevitable tensions to push its narrative about an internal conflict in Ukraine – a narrative that Putin uses to posture as a peacemaker and to undermine the sanctions regime.

The Kremlin continues to consolidate control over its proxies. The DNR and LNR united their railway systems in a joint venture on July 25.[51] Vasily Nazaryan, reportedly a Russian citizen and former employee of Russian Railways, will lead the new venture.[52] The Federation of Russian Trade Unions and the LNR signed a cooperation agreement on August 22.[53] Andrey Kozenko, the head of the Russian parliamentary committee on Russia-Donbas integration, visited the DNR and LNR in August.[54] Russia may be building a stronger bond with its proxies in anticipation of a deal to ensure it has long-term control. The Kremlin might also be setting conditions for alternative scenarios if a deal’s terms are not amenable to Putin.

The West should help Ukraine balance its effort to achieve peace and preserve sovereignty, and prevent normalization of the Kremlin’s behavior. Putin’s pressure on Ukraine and his efforts to court the international community will likely mount amid growing domestic pressure. The West should reject the inevitability that Putin will gain international acceptance of Russia’s illegal behavior and that peace in Ukraine will come at the expense of Ukraine’s freedom. The West should also closely monitor the trajectory of Zelensky’s efforts to consolidate power and maintain a commitment to assisting Ukraine preserve its emerging democracy.

[1]“Here’s Every Member of Ukraine’s New Cabinet of Ministers,” Kyiv Post, August 29, 2019, https((:))//; Toma Istomina, “Honcharuk Unveils Plans in Interview with Ukrainian Press,” Kyiv Post, August 31, 2019,
[2][“Reforms from Zelensky,”] Korrespondent, September 2, 2019, https((:))//; Oleksiy Sorokin, Anna Myroniuk, “Zelensky to Cabinet: Adopt Budget, Lift Land Moratorium, Legalize Casinos — Fast!” Kyiv Post, September 2, 2019, https((:))//; Ilya Timtchenko, “Ukraine Still Stuck with Land-Sales Moratorium,” Kyiv Post, November 16, 2018,; “Remarks by Vice President Pence and President Duda of Poland in Joint Press Conference,” The White House, September 2, 2019,; “Zelensky Says 74 Anti-Corruption Bills Already Submitted to Parliament,” Unian, September 2, 2019,
[3] Natalia Zinets, Matthias Williams, “Quick Win for Zelenskiy as Ukrainian Parliament Strips Lawmakers` Immunity,” Reuters, September 3, 2019,; Oleksiy Sorokin, “Parliament Lifts Lawmakers’ Immunity from Prosecution, Amends Constitution,” September 3, 2019, https((:))//
[4]Oleksiy Sorokin, Anna Myroniuk, “Zelensky Revives Dialogue with Poland, Aims to Buy More US, Polish Energy Supplies,” Kyiv Post, September 2, 2019, https://www((.)); Fakty ICTV [“Zelensky in Poland: What has the President Agreed to with Andrzej Duda?”] Youtube, August 31, 2019,
[5]“Ukraine, Poland and US Sign LNG deal,” Energy Reporters, September 3, 2019,; “U.S. to Help Poland, Ukraine Disconnect from Russian Gas,” Reuters, August 31, 2019,
[6] Steven Pifer, “Heading for (another) Ukraine-Russia Fight?” Brookings Institution, August 30, 2019,
[7][“There will be No Coalition, the Servant of the People Party will Create a Mono-majority,”] Fakty, August 29, 2019, https((:))//
[8] [“About the Deputy Groups (Factions) in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine,”] The Ukrainian Parliament, July 27, 1994, https://zakon((.))
[9] Oleg Sukhov, “Corruption Accusations Dog Avakov, Ukraine’s Top Cop,” Kyiv Post, March 30, 2018, https://www((.)); Oleg Sukhov, “Zelensky, Parliament Keep Avakov as Interior Minister, Ignore Civil Society,” Kyiv Post, August 29, 2019,
[10] [“Zelensky is Asking Parliament to Give Him the National Guard,”] Ukrayinska Pravda, August 30, 2019,
https((:))//; [“The Draft Law on the Introduction of Amendments to the Law on the National Guard of Ukraine,”] The Ukrainian Parliament, August 29, 2019,
[11] [“How Klitchko Lost the Battle for the Capital,”] Novoye Vremya, September 4, 2019, https((:))//; Oleksiy Sorokin, “Cabinet Approves Firing of Klitschko as Head of Kyiv Administration,” Kyiv Post, September 4, 2019, https((:))//
[12] [“Zelensky Ordered to Audit Subsidies of "Agrobarons,”], September 2, 2019, https((:))//
[13] [“State Investigation Bureau Launched an Investigation due to Poroshenko’s Vacation on Maldives,”] Ukrayinska Pravda, August 6, 2019,; [“Pechersky District Court Allowed the State Investigation Bureau toBring in Gontareva for Questioning by Force,”] Novoye Vremya, September 4, 2019,
[14] Tatyana Ivzhenko, [“Zelensky Accuses Medvedchuk of Receiving Funds from Abroad,”] Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 1, 2019,
[15] Volodymyr Verbyany, Alexander Sazonov, “Ukraine’s Ex-Comedian President Is Taking on Its Richest Man,” Bloomberg, August 23, 2019,
[16] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019,
[17] Oleg Sukhov, “Yanukovych’s Old Guard is Staging a Comeback,” Kyiv Post, August 30, 2019,
[18] ibid.
[19] Bermet Talant, “Government Meetings Closed, Ending Presence of Journalists and Live Broadcasts,” Kyiv Post, September 2, 2019, https://www((.))
[20] [“Bogdan: We Do Not Need Journalists to Communicate with Society,”], August 3, 2019, https((:))//
[21] Max Buzhanskiy, Telegram, August 18, 2019,; [“Member of Parliament from Servants of the People Party Insulted the Journalist from the Novoye Vremya Publication,”] Gordon, August 19, 2019,
[22] Oleksiy Sorokin, “Zelensky’s Party to Chair Most Parliament Committees, pro-Russian Party Gets Freedom of Speech Committee,” Kyiv Post, August 28, 2019, https((:)//
[23] Wikipedia, “Anti-Protest Laws in Ukraine,” Accessed September 5, 2019,
[24] Kristina Berdynskykh, Facebook, August 29, 2019,
[25] Russia-24, [“Nestor Shufrych: Zelensky Should Have Guaranteed the Safety of NewsOne Journalists,”] Youtube,
[26] [“He is not Such a Bad Person. Member of Servant of the People Party Spoke about Shufrych,”] Novoye Vremya, August 29, 2019, https((:))// 

[27] [“Parliament Want to Oblige Ukrainians to Buy SIM-cards Using a Passport,”] Segodnya, September 3, 2019,
[28] [“How Does the “State in a Smartphone” Work,”], July 19, 2019,
[29] [“A Bill that Would Have Obliged Ukrainians to Buy SIM-cards with Using a Passport was Recalled from the Parliament,”], September 3, 2019,
[30] [“Russia Tightened the Rules for the Sale and Use of SIM-cards,”], June 1, 2018, https(:)//
[31] [“The Foreign Ministry has Six Months to Advance the Peace Process in Donbas,”] Ukrainian National News Agency, August 29, 2019,
[32] Alexey Pushkov, Twitter, August 20, 2019,
[33] Nataliya Bugayova, “Ukraine's New President: The Stakes for Ukraine and the West,” Institute for the Study of War, April 22, 2019,; Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019,; Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Recasting the War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, August 13, 2019,
[34] [“Pristayko Said Amnesty and Lifting of the Blockade is Under Consideration,”’] RBC, August 28, 2019, https://www.rbc((.))ua/rus/news/pristayko-dopustil-amnistiyu-snyatie-blokady-1567097692.html.
[35]“Preparatory Group Approves Personal Composition of Leadership of Rada Committees,” Kyiv Post, August 28, 2019,
[36] Dmytro Barkar, [“Novinsky Wants to Pass an Amnesty Law,”] RFERL, September 30, 2019,; [“The Draft Law on the Prohibition of Criminal Prosecution of the Participants of the Events in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions,”] Ukrainian Parliament, August 29, 2019, http((:))//
[37] “Ukraine prisoner swap 'nearly complete': Putin,” Reuters, September 5, 2019,
[38] “Dutch MH17 Prosecutors Want To Question Ukrainian Prisoner Who Fought In Donbas,” RFERL, September 4, 2019,; “MH17 Case: 40 MEPs Appeals to Zelenskyi not to Extradite Tsemakh to Russia,”, September 5, 2019, https://censor((.))
[39] Will Englund, “Ukrainians and Russians Working on a Major Prisoner Exchange,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019,
[40] [“Danilyuk at the Kyiv Airport Commented on the Possibility of Prisoner Exchange,” TSN Channel, August 30, 2019,; [“Journalists and Relatives of Ukrainians Held in Russia Gathered at Kyiv Airport,” August 30, 2019, TASS,
[41]“Keeping Russia out of Western fold a ‘Strategic Error’,” France 24, August 27, 2019,
[42] “No Consensus on Inviting Russia to G7 Next Year: Macron,” Reuters, August 26, 2019,
[43]Yuri Butusov, [“Igor Kolomoisky: "Zelensky is a Sailor Zheleznyak. If the 'Servants of the People' Will Blow, They Will Be Dismissed in a Year,"], August 27, 2019,
[44] 112 Ukraine, [“Zelensky’s Speech on Independence Day, 08.24.19,”] YouTube, August 24, 2019,
[45] Nataliya Bugayova, “Ukraine’s New President: The Stakes for Ukraine and the West,” Institute for the Study of War, April 22, 2019,
[46] “German Foreign Minister Urges Russia, Ukraine to Revive Peace Talks,” Deutsche Welle, August 21, 2019,; Sylvie Corbet, “Putin, Macron Hold French-Russian Talks Before G-7,” AP, August 19, 2019,; “Joint News Conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto,” Kremlin, August 21, 2019, http://en.kremlin((.))ru/events/president/news/61349.
[47] “Putin: Conversations with Zelensky Inspire Cautious Optimism,” Unian, August 19, 2019,
[48] [“Advisers to the Heads of State of the ‘Normandy Format’ Will Discuss on September 2 the Agenda and preparations for a Future Meeting of Leaders – Zelensky’s Assistant,”] Interfax, September 2, 2019,
[49] [“The Head of the LNR Met in Luhansk with the State Duma Delegation,”] Ria, August 22, 2019, https://ria((.))ru/20190822/1557790248.html; [“The President Appreciated the Statements of the Kyiv Authorities to Dialogue with the DNR,”] Ria, August 21, 2019, https://ria((.))ru/20190821/1557743982.html.
[50] [Leonid Pasechnik,] Twitter, August 22, 2019,
[51] [“The DNR and LNR Have Created the Concern Railway of Donbas,”] DNR Live, August 8, 2019, http://dnr-live((.))ru/dnr-i-lnr-sozdali-kontsern-zheleznyie-dorogi-donbassa/.
[52] [“Fighters from 'DNR' and 'LNR' Created a New Cross Border Concern,”] Lenta, August 8, 2019, https://lenta((.))ua/boeviki-iz-dnr-i-lnr-sozdali-novyy-transgranichnyy-kontsern-20873/; [“”’DNR’ and ‘LNR’ Combined the Railways in the Concern ‘Railways of Donbass,’”] Antikor, August 19, 2019,
[53][“ The leaders of the Federation of Trade Unions of Russia and the LNR Signed a Cooperation Agreement,” Federal News Agency, August 22, 2019, https((:))//
[54][“Pushilin Met the Deputies of the State Duma, Who Arrived in the DNR to Celebrate Miner's Day,”] Donetsk News Info, August 21, 2019, https://dan-news((.))info/politics/pushilin-vstretil-deputatov-gosudarstvennoj-dumy-pribyvshix-v-dnr-na-prazdnovanie-dnya-shaxtera.html.