war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Occupied Sievierodonetsk begins second winter in bombed homes without heating except on Russian propaganda TV

Halya Coynash
While Russia is clearly planning a second winter of attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, its treatment of Ukrainians currently under its occupation is no less brutal

Sievierodonetsk which the Russian invaders are scarcely trying to rebuild after their destruction From a video posted by News of Donbas

Sievierodonetsk which the Russian invaders are scarcely trying to rebuild after their destruction From a video posted by News of Donbas

Sievierodonetsk residents are facing a second winter under Russian occupation without heating in homes where even the windows, blown out by Russian bombs, have not been replaced.  Hardly surprising that many are indignant at the occupiers’ much touted ‘renovation’ of the House of Culture in the centre of Sievierodonetsk – one of the relatively few buildings that were not damaged by Russian shelling, and not in need of restoration work. 

The invaders had, reportedly, used the House of Culture for various events, and clearly knew it was in no need of repairs. Presumably, therefore, it was simply easier to carry out a few cosmetic improvements and have something to boast of on Russian propaganda channels.  

One resident called the renovation “the height of cynicism when over half of the city is living without roofs, windows, heating for a second winter already, and nobody gives a damn about us”.  There are no reliable statistics as to the number of Sievierodonetsk residents remaining in the city, in buildings that were either destroyed or massively damaged and are still not in a state to be lived in, but the videos that residents have clearly shared make the level of devastation clear.

Even in cases where repairs have begun, they are being carried out at snail’s pace, with no end in sight.  One man explained that the hole in the roof had been merely covered with a plastic sheet, with everything leaking onto the first floor.  A woman added another address, saying that there the fourth floor has totally rotted as a result of another roof that was letting in huge amounts of water.

Heaters were brought in but there weren’t enough for everybody, nor are single heaters adequate for a Ukrainian winter.  Another resident of Partizanska St reported that her apartment block had been bombed, yet nothing had been done, with not even the window panes replaced. They did, however, bring huge bills for electricity. 

Residents are also suffering from a shortage of medicine, with those available also very expensive.  According to the Ukrainian website Sievierodonetsk Online, the video on which elderly residents described the hardships they were facing, was posted by Russian ‘volunteers’.  This is not the first time that such ‘volunteers’, who undoubtedly support Russia’s aggression, find that the residents of occupied Ukrainian cities are more likely to ask why the Russians have ‘liberated’ them of their homes, their livelihood, and the basic necessities of life than to ‘thank them’

The residents complained that the occupation ‘authorities’ were in no hurry to provide even the partial compensation due for their damaged homes, although the so-called ‘resolution’ on this was passed back in August 2023.

The city’s residents depend on ‘humanitarian aid’ from the aggressor state, with this also not delivered, although many of those in greatest need are unable to get to humanitarian points and would certainly be unable to carry much home.

The official narrative is, of course, quite different with upbeat propaganda claiming that people are returning to Sievierodonetsk, that everything is being restored and will end up being even better than before.  “And while the Russians on camera restore schools and swimming pools, local residents report that in Rubizhne, several floors of an apartment block collapsed.” 

The situation in many parts of occupied Luhansk oblast may well be even worse.  Back in September, Oeksandr Striuk, Head of the Sievierodonetsk Administration, reported that the propaganda about the cities was mainly for internal consumption.  At least with respect to Sievierodonetsk, the reality was very different and more like a “theatre of the absurd”, with those measures that are carried out slapdash and, presumably, mainly to imitate action.  As of September 2023, many buildings do not have plumbing and water supplies, as well as no heating.  Nobody is working on capital repairs of the networks, with the attention solely on presenting a good picture.

It is no accident that, since 2014, Russia has, as soon as it gained effective control of any Ukrainian territory, sought to block all independent sources of information and has concentrated on maximum propaganda and indoctrination of children and young people. 

It is, therefore, of significance that so much incriminating evidence is presented by the invaders themselves, and by those who generally support them.  We know from representatives of the occupying state that it is not planning to rebuild some of the cities, like Popasna (Luhansk oblast) that it effectively razed to the ground in order to gain control  As reported, the videos recently posted by ‘Russian volunteers’ are by no means the first where the account from local residents should have made the ‘Russian world’ supporters feel, at very least cognitive dissonance.  In some cases, they are even capable of feeling some degree of shame, although this is clearly not sufficient to change their support for Russian’s specific form of imperialism. 

See: Occupied Donbas residents ask Russia why it 'liberated' them from food and water

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