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What Ukraine should do before offering the new plan for a deoccupation of Donbass

Yuriy Aseev

Armed conflict on Donbass has left the mark on everyday life of local population. Far back in 2014 when there was active fighting, a considerable part of local population left the dwellings and moved to quieter places. In the autumn of 2014 after the first Minsk agreements, the line of demarcation "was fixed" according to the agreements reached in Minsk. Then the civilian population pulled back to the dwellings, returning to their territories including those which already were called occupied.

Unfortunately, the government of Ukraine was not able to transform quickly into socially oriented in the conditions of force majeure. The summer and autumn of 2014 were dreadfully cruel. The price of human life devaluated to the cost of the cartridge of caliber 5,45. The whole ocean of pain, sufferings and blood has poured out on the Donbass land. But government institutions of management were obviously late with reaction to such calls. Not less than a third of the civilian population of the southern and southeast districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions ran from war, in hope for adequate assistance of the state and the help in socialization, but … The first wave of the refugees has been accepted thanks to the volunteer organizations and charity foundations. Only they and only thanks to them the country managed to avoid obvious social disaster - not less than three million citizens of Ukraine ran from war at that time. From the moment of establishment of relative calm on the line of confrontation citizens have stretched on the small homeland without having waited for adequate support from the state and having proportioned the standard of living "in the exile" to the level of the possible income. Social services have even added to the social package a new option for immigrants– "transportation to the place of residence".

Since autumn of 2014 the line of demarcation has not changed practically – except that in February, 2015 the Debaltsevo sector has been beaten off as a result of offensive operation of illegal armed groups of so-called "republics". Since then the line of demarcation has been in the same place for 2 and a half years already (local maneuvers on movement of strong points to several hundred meters can’t influence geography of demarcation of territories of control according to the agreements signed in Minsk).

The Donbass region is a very densely populated territory. The line of demarcation cut society a painfully. Many people living in under control territories had relatives, the real estate, property, work, friends, etc. in occupied territories. Need for communications has only amplified in connection with extremely adverse social and economic conditions. Then Ukraine has officially suspended functioning of all public authorities and has stopped granting administrative services and work of registers in occupied territories, having suggested the citizens living "there" to receive these administrative services and communication with authorities in under control territories. After that tens of thousands of citizens of Ukraine have stretched from occupied territories through the line of demarcation …

Since June, 2015 citizens of Ukraine who needed to drive to or leave occupied territories of Donbass could only do it according to the so-called "decree number 415 of Security Service of Ukraine (SSU)". This was the name of “A temporary order of control of movement of faces, vehicles and freights (goods) through the line of confrontation in borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions” in the community of human rights activists and journalists. The decree was signed on June 12, 2015 by the first deputy head of the SSU Anti-terrorist center.

We will note that it has already been the second attempt of the SSU Anti-terrorist center to bring a kind of the normative document under the existing realities. The first attempt was started on January 22, 2015 - the decree No. 27 signed by the first deputy head of the Anti-terrorist center at the Security Service of Ukraine (the head of Anti-terrorist operation in the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions). The decree has undergone 9 transformations (in the form of modification) and has been repealed by

"decree No 415". They tried to challenge "decree No 27" in the Kiev administrative court, but it was unsuccessfully …

On April 14, 2017 “decree No 415” with all its versions of editions has been repealed by new "decree No. 222". From now on the SSU Anti-terrorist center (further – ATTs of SSU) will try to regulate movement of citizens through the line of demarcation with the help of this document…

We’ll speak fluently about key changes in it. From the name of "Decree" terms "vehicles and freights (goods)" have disappeared - now cargo and goods transfer is regulated by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ukraine No. 99 of March 1, 2017.

In the Decree No. 222 small changes have been made: instead of "uncontrollable territories" the term "temporarily uncontrollable territories" is used now; the procedure of identification of citizens is clearly defined – now citizens at checkpoints of entrance departure (further – CPED) can show any document issued by any authorities of Ukraine – driving license, the military ID, etc. ("The provision on the border mode", the resolution of the Cabinet of Ukraine of July 27, 1998 No. 1147). For the rest, the decree No.222 is not much different from the previous decrees.

Some words about the mechanism of movement through the LC.

Before adoption of above-mentioned orders ATTs of SSU, movement of citizens from uncontrollable territories took place on all highways passing through the line of confrontation. On all highways in a zone of control of AFU there were posts on which documents were checked and the admission of citizens and cars was carried out.

By the summer of 2015 the admission of citizens has begun to be carried out through CPED. All local passage and travel of citizens began to be limited and be forbidden slowly. In 2016 citizens could pass through LC to the relatives living on "that side" on so-called "paths of life". However after S. Semenchenko initiated the so-called "blockade of ORDLO", all law enforcement agencies have received the command to block all possible paths, and to watch closely one after another to stop even the slightest hints on a possibility of crossing of LC out of CPED. In some places the passage is possible only for inhabitants of the settlements located between positions of AFU and NVF and only according to the list.

Thus, at the moment crossing of LC is possible only through CPED. We will remind that six transitions through LR have been created – Gnutovo (it has moved to the v. Pischevik), "Novotroitsk", Marinka, Zaytsevo (it has moved to Mayorsk), "Stanitsa Luhanska" and "Zolote" (procedures aren’t carried out).

The first 4 are located in Donetsk region, the last 2 – in Luhansk. At the same time "Stanitsa Luhanska" works in the crosswalk mode, "Zolote" is a decorative CPED. It turns out that in the Luhansk region only one transition located in the most remote part of the area works. Between the next working transitions points Mayorsk and "Stanitsa Luhanska" there are 200 kilometers across the under control territory, and 150 km – on uncontrollable.

The reason that CPED "Zolote" opened in the spring of 2016 hasn’t functioned is that the Ukrainian side has chosen the place for transition, without coordinating it with representatives of so-called LPR who suggested opening transition on the parallel road 5 km to the east. Their motivation was in starting up a transport stream not through the town of Pervomaisk but on the bypass road. The Ukrainian side has opened CPED in a festive atmosphere, and in two hours, the first citizens who have passed through LR have returned back – CPED "Zolote" has worked only for 2 hours then it hasn’t been carrying out throughput procedures for 15 months.

During "a hot phase" in 2014 and first half of 2015 throughput procedures were carried out on all highways, in most cases – even at any time. Control was rigid – full check of cars, check on bases of "helpers of separatists", a careful face control … From the moment of signing of "decree No.415" restriction of movement of motor transport (and later pedestrians as well) out of transport corridors of CPED began. In 2016 Multi-kilometer queues before CPED were recorded, citizens crossed LR for two, and sometimes for three days.

At the moment throughput procedures are adjusted rather accurately, time of pass of pedestrians makes from 1 to 3 hours; time of passage of the car is from 3 to 8 hours. Though in different days of the week various concentration of citizens is observed on different CPED. The monitors working at CPED note that hitches happen at checkpoints of so-called "republics" more often recently.

Today the situation around all CPED can be assessed as "moderately safe". The public border service gives statistics of movement of citizens through CPED on the website daily: about 30 thousand citizens passes every day through CPED into both parties. Approximately the same number of citizens prefers to drive to or leave Ukraine through border with the Russian Federation – through Melovoye, Goptovka and other border crossing points.

We will sum up the intermediate results: due to force majeure, the state had to close all institutions operating in nowadays occupied territories, having moved them to the under control territory. It has also suggested citizens to realize the needs for communications with the state institutions by physical movement to the place of their stay. Courts, the pension funds, banks, access to registers, to medical and educational institutions, to managements of social protection and insurance, to lawyers and notaries – everything is in the under control territory now. Moreover, various services and institutions transferred from one city of the occupied territory now can be in the different cities in the controlled territory. How much are they available to the citizens forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories today?...

At the beginning of June the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council A. Turchynov has made the statement that the anti-terrorist operation format has sputtered out and it needs to be finished. The "interpretation" of the Ukrainian politics which have followed this statement concerning what A. Turchynov meant and how it would do the Ukrainian government, haven’t added clarity to this question. The public was informed that somewhere in a lobby of Presidential Administration and Cabinet the draft of the new law on reintegration of Donbass is being prepared under a signature stamp "confidentially". That is, it is about the plan of measures which will lead to return of control of the Ukrainian government over temporarily occupied territories of certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Proceeding from the analysis of these statements, we can draw several important conclusions already now.

1. Temporarily occupied territories of certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are considered by the top management of the country to be an integral part of Ukraine.

2. The Higher officials of the state apparatus of government publicly state readiness to execute a number of actions to return the control over territories by non-military methods.

3. Three years after the outbreak of the armed conflict in Donbass region the external centers of influence at last have stimulated decision-making by the Ukrainian authorities on development of the state concept concerning the occupied Ukrainian territories and citizens living there.

4. The Ukrainian side needs extremely to show progress in the complex of activities and actions directed to conflict resolution in Donbass by means of admissible non-military methods.

5. It is important to Ukrainian side to confirm the commitment to respect for and observance of the rights of civilian population in the context of implementation of the ratified Conventions on human rights, in particular – the rights of the citizens of Ukraine living in occupied territories.

In connection with all the above-mentioned, the Kharkiv human rights group takes the initiative of entering of adjustments into the developed throughput system on the line of demarcation.

The Kharkiv human rights group addresses the Ukrainian representatives in trilateral contact group in Minsk, and also structures whose powers include the solution of the matter, with the offer on essential increase in number of checkpoints of entrance departure through the line of demarcation.

Existence of 5 official transitions throughout 460 km of the line of demarcation in rather densely populated agglomerations of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is obviously not enough for ensuring civilized transition of the civilian population on under control territories.

First, more than 90% of the citizens crossing the line of demarcation have done that many times already; they have undergone full identification and testing for participation in IAF.

Secondly, the need for crossing of the line of demarcation for the majority of citizens is connected with need for communication with the state institutions located in under control territories.

Thirdly, at the moment there is no need for drastic measures on restriction of movement of the civilian population any more in connection with an inactive stage of the conflict.

Fourthly, Ukraine is obliged to show to the citizens forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories that the Ukrainian government really cares about their social problems, and it is ready to assist actively in their decision, showing humanity, tolerance and understanding. Each citizen of Ukraine, regardless of the place of his accommodation has the right for respect for his civil rights and respect for his dignity.

Thus, Ukraine can count on restoration of trust from citizens, forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories. Human rights activists repeatedly recorded cases of the prejudiced attitude of representatives of law enforcement agencies, public authorities towards the immigrants and citizens forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories. A number of similar cases allow drawing a conclusion on system disrespect for the civil rights of this category of citizens, and also on existence of signs of system discrimination of the above-stated category of citizens.

We suggest considering our initiative and in reasonable time resolving an issue of opening of CPED and a possibility of movement of citizens through the line of demarcation through such transport corridors or some of them:

Luhansk region

Schastye - Luhansk, route N-21;

Trekhizbenka-Slavyanoserbsk, Road T1315,

Lobachevo-Zheltoye, ferry,

Crimean – Frunze,

Novotoshkovskoye - Aleksandrovsk, Novotoshkovskoye - Donetsk, the route R-66,


Popasna-Pervomaisk, Road T-0504,


Donetsk region

Mironovsky-Debaltsevo, route M-03,


Zheleznoye – Yuzhnoye – the Komsomolets,

Novgorodskoye-Shirokaya Balka – Horlivka,

Verkhnetoretskoye – Betmanovo,

Avdeyevka – Spartac, route T – 0505

Pervomaiskoye – Yasinovataya, the route M04,

Peski – Donetsk, Road E50,

Krasnohorivka – Staromikhaylovka, Road C051130

Marinka – Aleksandrovka, Road O0530,

Slavnoye – Elenovka, Road C051133,

Nikolaevka – Dokuchaievsk, Road C050542,

Bogdanovka – Petrovsky, Road C051532,

Starohnativka – Belaya Kamenka, Road C051639,

Granitnoye – Belaya Kamenka, Road C051627,

Granitnoye - Telmanovo, the route T-05-12,

Kominternovo – Hreshchatitskoye, the route T-05-19,

Shirokino – Bezimenoye, the route M14.

It can become the first step, obvious and logical, on the way of Ukraine to deoccupation of Donbass, return of territories and establishment of friendship with the population forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories.

Increase in quantity of CPED will allow unloading the operating CPED; reducing turns and waiting time; increasing culture of communication and to lower degree of tension and mistrust; making communications with government institutions are more available; increasing commodity turnover between controlled and occupied territories that will lead to increase in enterprise activity in settlements along the line of demarcation and will provide a gain of jobs.

The implementation of the concept of "open doors" from the Ukrainian authorities realized even unilaterally will allow to show to both the international partners, and the citizens forcedly living in temporarily occupied territories, readiness for carrying out preventive steps on national reconciliation, restoration of uniform cultural space, to economic rapprochement and also practically to confirm readiness for a possibility of reunion of territories.

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