On May 23, 2023, the “Representation of the Ukrainian People” published an allegedly peaceful plan for ending the “hybrid war between NATO countries and Russia on the territory of Ukraine”. The Representation presents itself as an official and legitimate structure, formed by the vote of “millions of Ukrainians”. The main representative of the movement is Dmytro Vasylets, a traitor and collaborator who fled Ukraine and is likely residing in Moscow. The plan itself is nothing more than a reflection of the Russian negotiating position: “freezing” the conflict, neutralizing Ukraine with complete disarmament of the army, lifting sanctions, and conducting “referendums” in territories that have “not yet decided”. So where does the Ukrainian people fit into all of this?
What is the “Representation of the Ukrainian People” and where did it come from?
The “Representation of the Ukrainian People” was created in March 2023 by Russian collaborators, including Dmytro Vasylets, Oleksandr Semchenko, Pavlo Onyshchenko, Andrii Ponomarenko, Oleksandr Skubchenko, Maksym Shykhaleev, and Viktor Malofeev. They claim that the state of “Ukraine” was destroyed and occupied by NATO countries in 2014 as a result of an unconstitutional coup. Instead, they argue that the “betrayal of Zelenskyi and the national elites as a whole” led to armed conflict and the systematic destruction of the Ukrainian people, who have effectively become hostages of NATO.
If we are to believe the Kremlin’s lackeys, they organized an “All-Ukrainian Congress” (the location is not specified), which was allegedly attended by over 450 Ukrainian citizens from different countries around the world. During the congress, they approved the “Declaration for the Protection of the Ukrainian People” and announced the holding of an “All-Ukrainian People’s Assembly” through online voting on the NRVCH.COM portal. As of May 2023, supposedly “over 5 million Ukrainians” had voted for the declaration. It is unknown whether they actually managed to gather such a number of votes. However, when creating the voting platform, the traitors used a typical tactic employed by financial fraudsters: disguising themselves as trusted services. In order to deceive Ukrainians regarding the authenticity of the service, and possibly extract their passport data (necessary for verification and vote recording), they used the symbols and logo of the “Diia” service.
Screenshot of NRVCH.COM portal
Screenshot of the official website of the Diia portal
In their 3 months of “activity”, they managed to do more than just hold the “assembly”. They approved their own symbols: a red flag and emblem, both reminiscent of Soviet socialism. They created an “official website” suspiciously similar to the website of the official internet representation of the President of Ukraine. They held a meeting with representatives of Greek civil organizations regarding “European Nazism” and wrote the “Peaceful Plan of the Ukrainian People”.
Screenshot of the “Representation of the Ukrainian People” website
Screenshot of the website of the official online representation of the President of Ukraine
All of this is done to create an illusion of “legitimacy” because they have no legitimate right whatsoever. Collaborators shamelessly manipulate Articles 5 and 69 of the Constitution of Ukraine to justify their actions. Yes, Article 5 of the Constitution of Ukraine states that the people are the bearers of sovereignty and the sole source of power in Ukraine, exercising it directly and through state authorities and local self-government bodies. The Ukrainian people do not need new “representations” to express their opinions; they already have representatives — the President of Ukraine and the parliament, elected through legally conducted elections.
Article 69 of the Constitution of Ukraine establishes the right to popular expression of will through elections, referendums, and other forms of direct democracy. By using the phrase “other forms”, the collaborators attempt to legitimize the conducted “viche” (public assembly). This online voting lacks any legality. If it even took place at all.
What is known about “representatives”
The main media figure of the pseudo-structure is Dmytro Vasylets, who has channels with the same name on Telegram, Facebook, and YouTube. Back in 2013, he organized the public portal “Pravylne TV” to spread Russian propaganda. During this period, while working as a journalist for “17 Channel”, he organized campaigns to discredit Ukrainian media and events related to the Revolution of Dignity. In 2015, he was arrested by the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) for providing technical support for the broadcasting of the “Novorossia TV” channel. Until 2018, he was held in pretrial detention and was supposed to remain in prison for another 9 years according to a court decision. However, the appellate court overturned the verdict.
In 2020, Dmytro Vasylets started his political career by leading the party “Derzhava” (State). Established in 1999, this political force positioned itself as center-left. The party’s program remained largely unchanged throughout its existence, with key points including:
- “comprehensive unity of Slavic nations” as the basis for internationalism, global peace, and harmonious coexistence;
- granting the Russian language the status of either a “second national language” or a language of “interethnic communication”;
- planned economy;
- “prohibition” of honoring “Nazi collaborators”, the “sale” of land into private ownership, activities of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations, and so on.
Vasylets also supported another well-known pro-Russian propagandist, Anatolii Sharii, and his party when the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) accused Sharii of state treason in 2021. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the “Derzhava” party, along with other pro-Russian parties, including Sharii’s party, ceased activities by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council.
Furthermore, Vasylets was invited by Russia and spoke at a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue of “Russophobia” as a “witness”. According to Detector Media, judging from the background on which Vasylets appeared on video communication, the state traitor is currently in Moscow. Behind Vasylets, the logo of the Association of Lawyers of Russia and a part of the map, which is part of the office interior design of the organization in Moscow, can be clearly seen. Vasylets was presented at the meeting as the “Deputy Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Union of Justice Employees” (NGO “All-Ukrainian Union of Legal Professionals”, registered in 2007 by Oleksandr Semchenko).
Semchenko was also a member of the “Derzhava” party and is currently part of the “Representation of the Ukrainian People” structure. Since 2014, he has actively promoted narratives of Russian propaganda and regularly participates in Russian talk shows. According to Detector Media, from the early days of the invasion, he claimed on his YouTube channel that Kharkiv was “cleared”, Kyiv was “surrounded”, and Zelenskyi fled. He also said that the Ukrainian army uses civilians as human shields and inflicts more damage on infrastructure than the Russians. He called on Ukrainians not to take up arms and not to defend themselves against an “imaginary enemy”. The channel no longer exists, but he continues his propagandistic activities on Rutube and Telegram.
Pavlo Onyshchenko is a former “operative” of the Moscow district police department and the leader of the Kharkiv organization “Poton”. In the city, the organization is known for its raids on pharmacies and illegal alcohol sales points, where narcotics and alcoholic substances were sold illegally. However, after Onyshchenko’s arrest in 2020 for an attack on SSU employees, law enforcement received statements from pharmacy owners and other entrepreneurs stating that the “Poton” members engaged in extortion and attempted to tax businessmen. Onyshchenko, along with five other individuals, carried out the attack on SSU employees as the organizer of the “Slobodianska Sich” organization. It was established the same year, and its “viche” was supposedly intended to express the “will of the people” by overthrowing the power of “corrupt” state institutions.
In the snap parliamentary elections of 2019, Onyshchenko ran as a candidate from the party of Medvedchuk’s “Opposition Platform — For Life” (OPFL) in the 173rd electoral district.
In March 2022, he was released from custody by changing his preventive measure so that the former prisoner could join the defense of Ukraine. He promised to join the ranks of the territorial defense, but instead, he traveled to Europe as a father of many children. Currently, he is in Moscow and records propaganda videos from there.
Another author of the “peaceful plan” is Oleksandr Skubchenko, the head of the public organization “Housing Union of Ukraine”, registered in 2016. He is a frequent guest on Russian television, where he promotes anti-Ukrainian theses and justifies Kremlin aggression. Similar rhetoric accusing the alleged state coup in 2014 and the illegitimacy of Ukrainian authorities can be heard on his Telegram channel, YouTube, and Facebook. Skubchenko has repeatedly expressed support for the now-banned OPFL and endorsed Medvedchuk’s peaceful plan, which involved closer ties with Russia and abandoning NATO and the EU membership aspirations. In 2016, he spoke at a conference dedicated to the “protection of the Russian language” and called for measures to popularize the Russian language. Later, the collaborator stated that it was impossible to regain the territories and that Donetsk and Luhansk regions have the right to independence and their own language.
“Peace plan” on Russia’s terms
The text of the “peaceful plan” fully aligns with the rhetoric of Russian officials. The authors shift all responsibility for the aggression onto NATO countries, and they name Russia, the US, and EU countries as parties to the conflict. Even the “Representatives of the Ukrainian people” couldn’t clearly specify who occupied the four Ukrainian regions: “The withdrawal of NATO and other proxy forces from the territories of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions“. Moreover, there is not a single word in the “peaceful plan” about Ukraine as a party to the conflict and an independent state that has fallen victim to Russian aggression.
Instead, the authors also mention the Russian mantra of alleged oppression of Russian-speaking citizens and racial prejudices. Russian officials have been using this thesis since 2014 to justify the occupation of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions.
To put an end to the war, collaborators propose a ceasefire and the implementation of a neutral status for all regions of Ukraine that have “not yet decided”. However, the regions that allegedly decided to join Russia in a pseudo-referendum would remain under its jurisdiction. These proposals sound quite strange since Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the goal of the “special operation” is to reach Kyiv. Therefore, it is unclear why the Russian army would agree to these conditions. A temporary ceasefire may provide the enemy with time to regroup and prepare for further offensives.
At the same time, Vasylets and his followers legitimize the pseudo-referendums that took place in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions in September 2022, as well as in Crimea in March 2014. “Voting for joining Russia” contradicts Ukrainian and international law. The majority of countries have condemned the conduct of such “referendums”.
Ukrainian officials reported pressure on voters and falsification of vote counts. Artem Lysogor, the head of the Luhansk Regional Administration, claimed that the armed military conducted door-to-door visits and forced people to vote in courtyards. Residents of the Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk regions also spoke of “voting on their knees”. Therefore, it is impossible to speak of transparent and voluntary expression of will.
Moreover, according to the law “On All-Ukrainian Referendum”, questions aimed at the liquidation of Ukraine’s independence, violation of its state sovereignty, or territorial integrity cannot be the subject of an all-Ukrainian referendum. The legislation also does not provide for the conduct of regional or municipal referendums. Therefore, holding referendums in each region would be unlawful.
The formulation of the question for the proposed referendum, scheduled to take place within 3 years, is also quite abstract: regions are given the opportunity to “declare independence and join any country” or remain within Ukraine. However, the only country officially claiming territory in Ukraine is Russia. The EU countries, in 2014, confirmed Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
However, even here, the “representatives of the Ukrainian people” could not clearly state who is interested in the “annexation” of Ukrainian territories. The deliberate avoidance of mentioning the aggressor in the majority of the plan’s provisions resembles the tactics used by the Russian leadership in 2014: “we are not there“.
The “peace plan” also mentions that it will take 3 years after the cessation of hostilities to restore peaceful life and “eliminate the consequences of the hostilities”. Of course, the author does not specify who will be responsible for reconstruction and investing funds. Over the course of more than a year of full-scale war, Russia has completely destroyed more than 15 Ukrainian cities, including Bakhmut, Mariupol, Rubizhne, Sievierodonetsk, Vuhledar, and others. According to the World Bank’s estimates as of March 2023, Ukraine needs $411 billion for reconstruction. In May of this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi stated that over $400 billion would be needed to compensate for the damages caused by Russia, but this amount does not include the destruction in the temporarily occupied territories. However, the plan does not mention any responsibility of the aggressor or the payment of reparations.
“Representation of the Ukrainian people” are puppets in the hands of Moscow
The so-called “peace plan”, presented supposedly on behalf of the Ukrainian people, envisions not the cessation of war but the complete dismemberment of Ukraine and absolving the aggressor of responsibility. In one of the points, the author explicitly suggests lifting sanctions on Russia and allowing political parties from EU countries, the US, and Russia to operate throughout the entire territory of Ukraine. Such a “plan” would enable Russia to restore its economy, engage in political agitation, and ultimately peacefully occupy the entirety of Ukraine.
Under the guise of the so-called “representation of the Ukrainian people”, collaborators promote a peace plan supposedly endorsed by the entire Ukrainian society. In reality, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Razumkov Center in April-May 2023, 66.8% of respondents rejected the idea of peace with Russia if it required returning to the demarcation line as of February 24, 2022, rather than the borders of 1991. Additionally, 63.9% of those surveyed outright rejected the possibility of direct peace negotiations with the aggressor.
At the same time, the authors of the plan propose to lead Ukraine during the transitional period, which is three years. They are supposed to be guaranteed security by the United States, EU countries, and Russia. This is far from Russia’s first attempt to create a puppet government for a country with which it is at war. Let’s recall just the 20th century: in 1939, Stalin created the “People’s Government of Finland” in Moscow from Finnish communists, and based on their “request“, he later deployed troops to the country, starting the Finnish-Russian War. Here are some quotes from the Declaration of the People’s Government of Finland:
- “By the will of the people, outraged by the criminal policy of the contemptible government of Cajander, Erkko and Tanner, a new government of our country has today been formed in Eastern Finland — the Provisional People’s Government, which hereby calls upon the entire Finnish people to wage a determined struggle to overthrow the tyranny of the hangmen and incendiaries of war.”
- “Having sold the independence of the country, these plutocratic rulers of Finland, acting in conjunction with the imperialist enemies of the Finnish and Soviet peoples, have been consistently engaged in hatching plans for anti-Soviet military provocations, and have finally plunged our country into the jaws of war against the Socialist Soviet Union, the great friend of the Finnish people.”
- “The Soviet Union, which has never menaced or molested Finland, which has always respected her independence and for two decades has patiently endured the vile acts of military provocation on the part of the adventurers who ruled White Finland, has now been faced with the necessity of putting an end to these threats to its security with the help of the Red Army.”
In 1944, the “Polish Committee of National Liberation” was created in Moscow, led by Polish socialist Edward Osóbka-Morawski. In their Manifesto, they declared that the Polish emigrant government, which was then based in London, and its political representation in the country, were self-proclaimed and illegal authorities, emphasizing the need for democratic socio-economic transformations.
Scenarios with puppet governments were also played out in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and East Germany. Unfortunately, they were successful. Moreover, for Ukraine, this is not the first case of masking puppets as “representatives of the people”. Whatever the purpose of this latest spectacle with the “legitimate representation of the Ukrainian people” may be, the existence of such pseudo-structures poses a threat to national security. Not only from the perspective of promoting hostile narratives.
The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations