Members of Holos parliamentary faction initiate Fokin's withdrawal from TCG / Screenshot

Lawmakers from the Holos (Voice) parliamentary faction have initiated the withdrawal of envoy to the Minsk talks on Donbas Vitold Fokin from the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG).

MP Roman Lozynskyi and his faction colleagues are preparing a corresponding request to the president.

"Together with MPs from Holos, we are initiating Fokin's withdrawal from TCG! Vitold Fokin has long been not afraid to call members of the so-called 'DPR/LPR' ['Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics'] 'rebels,' [he] advocates a general amnesty, a special status not only for ORDLO [certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions] – but for entire Donbas [including Ukrainian-controlled parts], as well as for the creation of an 'international interim government' on the sovereign territory of Ukraine. Such statements are unacceptable and harmful. Fokin's statements demonstrate his complete lack of understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships of the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war and an outright drift toward Russia, just like being under the full influence of Moscow propaganda," Lozynskyi wrote on Facebook on September 22.

The MP said Fokin claimed in 2017 that "Russia must be understood – it has a fleet there [in Crimea]," since it "would have lost Crimea forever," because "the Americans would have come there."

"We are preparing a motion for [consideration by] the president of Ukraine, where we demand the dismissal of Vitold Fokin from the post of first deputy head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group. I am convinced Ukraine does not need another lobbyist for the interests of the Russian Federation at the Minsk talks. And the parliament should respond to the statements by representatives of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG that undermine the integrity of the Ukrainian position in the negotiations and cast doubt on the fundamental aspects for Ukraine," he added.

Read alsoUN provisional gov't could be formed in Donbas, Ukraine delegate to TCG opinesLozynskyi urged from all parliamentary factions to sign the motion and give "a principled assessment of Mr. Fokin's statements as deputy head of the delegation."

Another row over Fokin's statement

  • Speaking in an interview to Ukrainian Radio, Fokin called Russia's forces in the occupied areas of Donbas "rebels," which caused another row in society. "It is necessary either to deploy the same contingent [the UN peacekeepers] on the border with Russia to stop helping the rebels from there, or throughout the entire territory," Fokin said.
  • In that very interview, Fokin also hinted he considers the language issue to be the cause of the war in Donbas. "How did the conflict in Donbas begin? The former government promised people that the use of the state language would be liberalized. That they would be allowed to hold business meetings, keep records, etc. in Russian. I do not see anything wrong with that," he said.

Earlier controversial statements: Background

  • Fokin has recently said he is in favor of granting special status to the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions – both government-controlled and uncontrolled districts, as demanded by Russia.
  • The official mentioned his stance on the special status, answering a question about the possibility of pardoning members of Russia-backed proxy forces.
  • According to Fokin, many crimes have been committed "by both sides," and that they all must be investigated, while criminals must be punished.
  • Fokin also noted that he was ready to travel to the occupied part of Donbas to negotiate with Russia-backed forces if the president or parliament ordered so.
  • He claimed the move was also supported by Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG Leonid Kravchuk.
  • Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Fokin's statement was of provocative nature and not in line with Ukraine's national interests.
  • Head of Ukrainian President's Office Andriy Yermak said the idea voiced by Fokin did not reflect Ukraine's official stance.
  • Journalist Serhiy Garmash, who has been part of the Ukrainian delegation in Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas settlement, believes Fokin does stand for pardoning those who committed certain crimes in Donbas, but not terrorists whose "arms are soaked in blood up to their elbows." The journalist said Fokin's statement on the issue had been distorted in the final text of the interview published by in an act of manipulation of public opinion.
  • On September 15, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov said the work was underway to select a spokesperson for the Trilateral Contact Group who would make statements on the part of the Ukrainian delegation to make sure there is "one voice" and common position on all issues.