Participants of "People of Peace" Forum address President of Ukraine

The participants of the Forum "People of Peace" read out an address to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. Photo: a screenshot/ 112 Ukraine

The address of the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Vladimir Zelensky was voiced by the forum participants at a press conference in Kyiv.

On September 24, 2020, the press conference of the participants of the International Civil Forum "People of Peace" took place at the Sviatogorsk Lavra on September 21, where the "Address of the Forum participants, residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky" was read out. The press conference was broadcast live on the "112 Ukraine" TV channel.

The text of the Address was read by the ATO veteran, Viacheslav Shevchuk (Severodonetsk), teacher Valeria Leonova (Zhovanka village, Zaitsevo), Head of NGO "Peace Institute" Maxim Lenko (Gorlovka), pensioner Elena Popova (Zaitsevo) and businessman Yuri Berezhnoy (Lugansk). 

The UOJ presents the full text of the Address.

Address to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Aleksandrovich Zelensky

Dear Vladimir Alexandrovich,

In our homeland, the Ukrainian land, a war has been going on for six years. Death has come to the peaceful doors of our homes, and grief, which has divided our cities and villages, our families, relatives and friends, has come. On what scale can we measure the magnitude of our tragedy today? Tens of thousands of graves have appeared on our land during the war years. We often buried our loved ones under violent fire right in the сourtyards of our houses, because we couldn't take our dead relatives to the cemetery. Our children, who were born in the first year of the war, have gone to school this year.

For some from afar, it's just dry statistics, an expression of protocol concern or just the cost of big geopolitics. We are a tiny spot of blood colour on the world map, which are many today on the conflict-ridden planet. 

For some, "Grad" fires and the clatter of sniper fire in the wide Ukrainian steppes have become an energetic impulse for political and financial lift. For them, our blood and tears, the grief of ordinary people have become the fuel for the devil's mechanism for the accumulation of banknotes, which, as you know, do not even smell death stench. And there are those who found the realization of their heroism in this war, who selflessly went into battle to defend their Homeland, their ideals, their land, their relatives and friends, who did not spare their lives for their brother. 

All wars, as we know from history and now from personal experience, have abounded in heroes and villains, humans and non-humans.
Most of those who took part in the forum are people who live close to the demarcation line and displaced people, who more than anyone can feel the difference between the real face of war and the way it is shown on television. Supporting the efforts and new agreements of the parties to the conflict on a comprehensive ceasefire, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by its Decision of 17 August 2020 initiated the International Civil Forum "People of Peace". We responded to this initiative and joined it. 

Every year on 21 September the International Day of Peace is celebrated, so people started the work of the International Civil Forum "People of Peace" at the Holy Dormition Sviatogorsk Lavra on this very day. And its multimedia format brought together participants from different countries, people who affirm eternal universal human values regardless of their nationality and religious affiliation. 

The conflict in the Donbass is complex in its content and affects many planetary processes, therefore our forum is international. We plan that the International Civil Forum "People of Peace" will become regular. To this end, we are creating a powerful communication tool, an interactive and open to all citizens media platform "People of Peace", where discussions and working communications on the topics of the forum will take place. 

At the forum, we reviewed the state of affairs in the social sphere of our lives, residents and displaced people of the Donbass and eastern Ukraine. We began to consider the issues that today are a matter of survival for us – medicine, education, the solution of housing and domestic problems. We started to develop an action programme to restore the peaceful life of people in the Donbass and eastern Ukraine.

The beginning of our work showed the need to create an executive body of the International Civil Forum "People of Peace", which will present projects and programmes developed by the forum participants to government agencies, local governments of Ukraine, international institutions and organizations.

Soon it will be two months since a comprehensive ceasefire was established in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. During this time, those of us who live on the conflict line, with the support of local authorities, have done the main things that can be done before winter – patched up the roofs and walls, installed windows, and restored housing. But there are many issues that our Ukrainian side cannot solve alone. For example, those of us who live in the settlement of Zhovanka, Zaitsevo village (there are 105 citizens left, there were 800 before the war, including seven children) have to get to the closest city to us, Bakhmut, off-road, as the road was bombed. The road is extremely important to the residents of the village and is the only way from the contact line to the safe side. Therefore, the residents of Zhovanka call this road "the road of life". Every day, we spend about three hours driving our children to school and returning home off-road, while in peacetime we covered this road in half an hour. 

For several months now, all the materials and equipment for laying this road have been brought in by the Donetsk regional organisation, but since the work requires the signing of a two-way silence regime, these works are frozen. On 4 September 2020, the head of the CMA in the village of Zaitsevo made a repeated application for ensuring safe work on repairing the road from the T 05-15 highway to the village of Zhovanka. The Joint Forces Command positively considered the application and provided security guarantees for the observance of the ceasefire by the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the period from 12.09.2020 to 15.10.2020, order No 5648 of 06.09.2020. However, security guarantees from the other side of the conflict have not yet been provided through the OSCE SMGS.

This is just one example of what war brings us in everyday life, and there are a lot of such examples. Therefore, we ask you, dear Vladimir Alexandrovich, as President of Ukraine to appeal to the leaders of the Normandy negotiating group for the urgent adoption of the necessary decisions and do everything possible to establish peace in the East of Ukraine.

We appeal to you, dear Mr President, as well as to all social forces, citizens of Ukraine and the international community with a proposal to cooperate and join efforts in joint work to end the war, to prevent a social, environmental and humanitarian disaster, to revive and sustainably develop Donetsk and Lugansk regions. 

Respectfully, the International Civil Forum "People of Peace" participants

As reported, on September 21, 2020, as part of the peacemaking initiatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to end the armed conflict and restore peaceful life in the Donbass, the International Forum "People of Peace" was held at the Sviatogorsk Lavra. The spokesperson for the UOC, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, expressed the hope that the aspiration of people for peace in the Donbass demonstrated at the forum will be heard by the whole world.

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