"Surrender" they called on the weekend on the Maidan Square in the center of Kiev. Some 10,000 people gathered there to protest against agreement on a special status for the Donbass occupied by pro-Russian fighters.
There are far more than a few days ago, when it became known that the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj has accepted the so-called "Steinmeier formula". That formula, named after the former Federal Foreign Minister and today's Federal President, should finally reach the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements for eastern Ukraine. That has not happened to this day.
The formula is a kind of crude plan to hold elections in the Donbass. In the end, Donetsk and Luhansk will have far-reaching autonomy. But many questions on the way there are unclear, Kiev and Moscow interpret the formula differently (for more on the background, see here).
That is why Selenskyj, who has promised peace to his compatriots, must now hear a lot of criticism. Has he made too much concessions to Russia? Or has he finally taken this step in the long-stalled peace process? DER SPIEGEL has asked five Ukrainians for their opinion - these are their answers.
Maryna Danylkina, 52, from Solote in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine
The village of about 560 inhabitants, where volunteer volunteers live, is located directly on the front line between the soldiers of the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian fighters who control a part of the village. Since Monday, both sides are supposed to withdraw there, so it was agreed in Minsk on October 1; due to a lack of ceasefire so far it did not happen.
Maryna Danylkina: She lives a life on the front line
"In our part of Solote live about 560 people we are afraid we are shot almost every night, and we speak of heavy artillery fire, fired over from the occupied territories (from the pro-Russian fighters, editor's note). I'm younger, I can run down to the basement even though I know it's just a little bit of protection What happens to us when the Ukrainian army completely pulls off Nobody defends us then And where are we going? "Nobody gives us apartments in other, safe areas.
Selenskyj promised us protection? I hear that for the first time. Selensky is far away, in Kiev, I am here where the war is. Over five years already. The president runs the whole country, he can not know everything that happens in our small villages. I really appeal to him, to the whole country, please do not remove the Ukrainian soldiers, they protect us.
First, those who occupy the Donbass have to go back to Russia. As long as the occupiers are still on Ukrainian territory, there can be no elections. Donbass was and is Ukraine. We have to regain control of our eastern border.
The discussion about the 'Steinmeier formula' is very painful for me. Everyone understands underneath what he wants. I really hope that if there is a new Normandy meeting of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, Selenskyj will not sign something again that nobody understands. We do not trust the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), we do not believe that they will patrol here. Their people always run away when they shoot. We really feel left alone, understanding that in the end, everyone has to save their own lives. "
Andrij Zubenko, 38, is building the office in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk for the Selenskyj party
"Volodymyr Selenskyj is forced to work with what his predecessor in office, Petro Poroshenko, has left him to the Donbas: all that has already been signed in Minsk in 2015 - that is what the 'Steinmeier formula' refers to.
Selenskyj did not deliver our country, as it is now claimed. The formula is not a panacea, it is only part of the measures that must be taken for peace in Donbass. We should understand that there is only a preliminary agreement to apply this formula and to hold elections. How this will all go in detail is laid down by our parliament in a new Donbass law (it should apply from the beginning of 2020, editor's note).
Everything that Russia has done and is doing in Eastern Ukraine is very bad for our country, it tries to impose its conditions on us. We have to make ours clear. In my opinion, the foreign troops must first withdraw from the eastern border of Ukraine. Then the OSCE must realize that elections can be held. After that, our police forces and authorities, including the Electoral Commission, should go to Donetsk and Luhansk. Their security and those of the people must be guaranteed, for example by UN peacekeepers. Only then can there be elections. "
Volodymyr Gerasimov, 49 years, from the Crimea, soldier of the Ukrainian army
The Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014. Gerasimov was in 2015 on the Maidan Square in Kiev as a volunteer of the so-called self-defense groups, he fought in 2017 in Donbass:
Katja Lutska / THE MIRROR
Volodymyr Gerasimov: soldier of the Ukrainian army
"What formula? There is no formula, it is summed up what is already in the Minsk Treaties, I do not understand why our army should withdraw now, this is our country, our earth Russian soldiers, the pro-Russian fighters, why should we give them our trenches? President Selenskyj can explain what he wants, what does a man in the army say in which he never served, he has been summoned several times and never came.
What Selenskyj is doing are first steps towards surrender. I am not only against the formula he has agreed to, I am also against a new Normandy meeting with Russia. One does not negotiate with murderers. It is unacceptable for the squatter to decide how elections should be conducted in our area.
For me, there can be a vote in the Donbass only if we have full control over the area, including our borders; when the Russian troops are gone and there is a complete check of all the inhabitants. If a resident has a passport from the so-called People's Republics of Donetsk or Luhansk and thus a Russian passport, he should not vote at all. "
Anschelika Ulyanova, 30, from Avdiivka in the Donetsk region
She has lived in Kiev since the beginning of the fighting in 2015 and campaigned for Selenskyj in the election campaign:
Facebook / Anzhelika Ulianova
Anschelika Ulyanova: Only now learn what the "Steinmeier formula" is
"I heard about the 'Steinmeier formula' by Selenskyj for the first time, and it is interesting that Poroshenko criticizes it very much - just a few years ago he spoke of it differently, so he changes his mind so quickly just to hurt the current president.
That Selenskyj has accepted the formula is an opportunity, not a capitulation. It must go first, find a way for peace. Every day in the vicinity of Awdijiwka is shot, tell my parents. They live there with my seven year old son. Fortunately, it is quiet in the city itself.
Both sides provoke in this conflict. On the Ukrainian side, there are battalions that are not really under someone's control, they get money for their use. And so on both sides is always shot. That must have an end. People are suffering, dying, what's the point of making sense of it in the sixth year of this conflict?
Nobody can predict what a Normandy meeting with Russia will bring. Only if everything stays as it did in the past years, everything will only get worse, we have to move towards each other. Would anyone have expected that there was such a quick exchange of prisoners, conversations are possible again, as now in Minsk? Not only did that surprise me. Selenskyj will negotiate for us and our country. He gets better, gets more confident and stronger every step of the way. "
Vadym, 49, from Kiev
"I am not sure if the 'Steinmeier formula' will help us get back our territories in the East - the formula is a very vague concept that anyone can formulate and understand differently for themselves - a risk - Russia can do it all How the country likes it, that worries me.
Katja Lutska / THE MIRROR
Wadym: Very vague concept
I can not imagine that President Selenskyj, who enjoys such popular support, could act against his country. But he does not make a good figure in international politics yet. He must learn to defend clearly the interests of Ukraine. "