Restoring Donbas: main events during the 9 – 15 March
1:12 / 16 Mar. 2015 / 212
During last week, fragile ceasefire remains in Donbas despite of the reports of local shelling. The most important news of the week were the potential opportunity of cancellation the pass entry system in Donbas, the OSCE report on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line from the both sides and ongoing negotiations about sending the UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.
Read more details about the key events of the week in our weekly review.
The conversion of the conflict into the diplomatic scope
A special monitoring mission of the OSCE proceeds its work in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Over the last week, the representatives of this organization noted the positive aspects of the conflict in Donbas. They confirmed the execution of the second para of the Minsk Agreement on withdrawal of heavy weapons. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian side continues to insist on the injection of the peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine. Thus, Pavel Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Kiev is considering various options for the peacekeeping mission. In addition, he added that the deployment of the mission requires at least six months.
In its turn, the European Union has not yet decided whether they are ready to send peacekeepers to Ukraine. However, for instance, Francois Hollande, French President, admits the necessity for the presence of peacekeeping troops on the Ukrainian territory. In addition, European leaders noted that the conflict in Ukraine is one of the major geopolitical risks in the world and Europe, alongside with the Islamic threat in Asia. It was claimed by Angela Merkel, German Chancellor last week.
Meanwhile, according to the assertion of Oleksandr Klymenko, the founder of the community initiative “Restoration of Donbas”, informal diplomacy and extensive dialogue inside the Ukrainian society (apart from Minsk process) are the prerequisites for the actual resolving of the conflict in Donbas. He wrote it in in his column in the American Newsweek.
Last week, there were several important economic news in the context of the conflict in Donbas. First of all, it is an issue of discounts on gas for Ukraine. Last week, Alexander Novak, Russian Energy Minister, said that the conditions of Russian gas supplies could be mitigated, but the Ukrainian authorities have to pay for the gas that Russia supplies Donbas.
The resonance news, which still could find its continuation in the future, is that the IMF ordered the Government of Ukraine to pay pensions to people, who stayed on the territories Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which are beyond the control. The memorandum between Ukraine and the IMF comprises the Ukrainian government’s obligation to create appropriate conditions for the payment of pensions to the uncontrolled territories at the request of pensioners themselves.
International aid still proceeds
Last week, the United Nations Development Programme presented a full-scale plan to restore the Donbas.
Representatives of the organization reported that social facilities would be reconstructed at first.
In addition, United Nations urged countries to focus on the financing of humanitarian operations in eastern Ukraine, as well as encourage the parties of the conflict in Donbas to execution Minsk agreements.
Such assertion was made due to Washington statement on the transfer a new batch of military aid to Kiev.
In addition, Supreme Commissar UN refugee agency noted that more than 600 thousand Ukrainians applied for refuge or residence permit in other countries – particularly, in Russia and Belarus.
Meanwhile, the European Union under the humanitarian program has provided financial assistance to 40 thousand displaced persons from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. According to Manfred Profazi, the chairman of the International Organization for Migration in Ukraine, program, which carries out the support of displaced persons, has a budget of 6.5 million euros.
The pass entry system and displaced persons
Messages about the reformation or cancellation of ATO pass entry system arose during this week. It was reported by Donetsk regional state administration.
After that, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine reported that they began work on the creation of a unified electronic database of persons, who have obtained permission to cross the line of clashes in Donbas.
At the end of the week, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reported that since March 25, the paper passes (which gives an opportunity to cross the line of clashes in Donbas) will removed. Instead of it, electronic registry will be injected. The Security Service of Ukraine stated on the preparation of the relevant changes to the Temporary procedure for monitoring the movement of persons, transportation and goods across the line of demarcation ATO zone.
One of the reasons for the abolition of paper passes state agencies is increase the number of fakes. Some citizens react on the criminal’s offers and try to buy self made passes in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. In this case, the lawbreakers defraud 1600 hryvnia for one fake. The Security Service of Ukraine reported that they have initiated criminal proceedings for such facts.
All these factors have led to the fact that the number of people, who leave the territories beyond the control of Ukraine, has dropped significantly this week. According to State Emergency Service of Ukraine, only 52 people registered in transit points recently.
Despite of all the positive intentions, the pass entry system in its current form does not work even in such small details as hotlines. Actually all contact numbers, which are working within ATO in Donbas and published on the website of the Security Service of Ukraine, are not available for citizens. It was written by journalist Maxim Kopachevskii in his blog on the website “Restoring Donbas”.
Meanwhile, Donetsk residents decided to fight against the restriction to leave the ATO area using own methods. Donetsk residents, Alexander Kulikov and Olga Demidova, decided to cancel the pass entry system on the line with the ATO area via the court. “Perhaps, the limitation on entry is rational, but the restriction to leave is just criminal. Without exaggeration, I can say that it is a question of survival. Such decision can be canceled all in all. There is such legal possibility, “- said Kulikov.
Problems remain and the residents of Donbas received the status of immigrants. Residents of Donbas, who have received the status of displaced persons, still have their own problems. In particular, according to lawyers of the community initiative “Restoring Donbas”, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has complicated the possibility of execution of legitimate rights, which belong to displaced persons from the ATO area. Such conclusions were made by experts on the basis of the analysis of government regulations obliging displaced persons to put a mark of the Migration Service on the certificates on registration of the place of residence.
Life on the territories, which are beyond the control of Ukraine
Residents of Donbas almost stopped leaving the ATO area in the context of a significant reduction of the intensity of military confrontation. It was stated by Natalia Bistraya, the head of the Press Service of State Emergency Service of Ukraine. In addition, under the peaceful conditions in Donetsk region, maintenance crews are working strenuously on the restoration of water supply objects, which were damaged by shelling. Repair works impede the clearing areas from mines.
However, for instance, there is still no electricity, water and food in Debaltseve. Near 5-8 thousand out of 25 thousand people stayed there. Strategic railway junction is not restored. Roof of the train station has a huge hole, contact networks are torn and the rails around the station are destroyed.
According to the Press Service of State Emergency Service of Ukraine, total sum of losses from the destruction of infrastructure in the Donetsk and Luhansk region reaches almost 5 billion UAH. In Artemovsk total amount of damage, which was caused to the city, is more than 131 thousand UAH. More than 106 million UAH – are the costs for road infrastructure’s restoration. The lists of casualties includes 32 streets and alleys, where repairing of asphalt pavement, curb replacement, restoration of the demolished props are required.
The governance of self-proclaimed DNR is also engaged in the rehabilitation of infrastructure. Last week, they stated that they plan to take up the thread the railway along the route Donetsk – Lugansk.
Among the other topics about the life in ATO area, the issue of education is noteworthy. Last week, the problem of school graduates, who left on the uncontrolled territories, was solved. Department of Education and Science of the Donetsk regional state administration has allowed students to transfer to external studies by e-mail. Since March, high school pupils, who live on the occupied territory, can be transferred to schools on free territory of Donetsk region without personal provision of documents.