Verkhovna Rada adopted a new law on local elections, which deprives IDPs from the East of the right to take part in it, the president promised “specific order of self-governing” to Donbas, and the international missions are proceeding and expanding its work on the East of Ukraine. More details about key events related to the conflict in Donbas – in our weekly review of major news.
“Special status” of the region, elections in Donbas and the right of IDPs to vote
Last week, President Poroshenko promised «specific order of self-governing» to Donbas. It was claimed during the speech on decentralization in Verkhovna Rada. The President excluded the possibility of the special status of Donbas in the draft amendments to the Constitution. However, he added that the local government in particular territorial units of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are defined by a separate law. Meanwhile, Poroshenko emphasized that this modification does not threat to national sovereignty. As a result, Verkhovna Rada decided to send this Bill on Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. This decision was supported by 288 deputies (226 – minimum required).
Another important and significant news was connected to the events related to the possibility of holding local elections in Donbas. The news about that fact that local elections could not be held on October 25 on the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions became a resonance. However, on Friday, Verkhovna Rada appointed local elections on October 25 all over Ukraine except Crimea and uncontrolled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. 237 deputies voted for this decision.
In addition, Verkhovna Rada deprives IDPs of the right to vote on local elections. According to this law, IDPs from uncontrolled territories of Donbas and Crimea, who live in Ukrainian territory, have no right to vote because they are residing outside the locality, where they are registered. Public initiative «Restoring Donbas» appealed to Vladimir Groisman, the Speaker of Parliament, and a number of deputies with a letter demanding more time to make the appropriate amendments to the draft law in order to give IDPs the opportunity to participate in local elections. This step did not require additional work for parliamentarians due to the fact that such additions have been proposed during the first reading of the draft law. However, they were rejected.
The situation on the Ukrainian territories of Ukraine
Last week, Gennady Moskal resigned as a governor of Luhansk region. Yuri Klimenko was assigned as an acting head of the Luhansk Regional military administration. This decision was caused by external circumstances (events in Mukachevo), not the results of Moskal in Luhansk. Meanwhile, people are preparing for a new wave of IDPs to the region. In Severodonetsk there was prepared a camp with 150 places (could be extended up to 300) and the whole floor in the fire and rescue unit.
People in Donetsk region are also preparing to work with IDPs. Last week in Slavyansk it was announced about the preparations for the opening of the Coordination Centre for work with IDPs and citizens suffered from ATO. It will be located on the ground floor of the City Council. According to organizers, it will allow providing all the communication services of the city, which provide assistance to internally displaced persons.
Meanwhile, the economic situation on the uncontrolled territories of Ukraine in the region is still crisis due to disrupted economic logistics of Donbas. The brightest proof is termination of Slavyansk thermal power plant due to lack of fuel. Coal stocks in storage of TPP reached a record low – 169 tons, while 3,500 tons are necessary for the operation of the block during a day.
Last week Luhansk thermal power plant (in Scastie city) also faced with difficulties. The termination was related to the shelling. As a result, a larg part of the Northern Luhansk remained without electricity. At the same time, hydro impact happened there due to the sudden deenergizing.
International assistance and mission’s work
There are important news related to the work of international organizations and missions that came from uncontrolled territories of Donbas. Thus, last week it was reported that nearly 1.3 million children and adults faced with a serious shortage of water due to damaged or destroyed water supply systems. It was stated in the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. According to the organization, more than 470 000 people, including 118,000 children, do not have enough safe drinking water on the uncontrolled territories of Luhansk region. Many families are forced to rely on the water supply by humanitarian organizations or to travel to the nearest villages in order to get water from existing wells.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered humanitarian aid to the Slavyanoserbsk village. Assistance includes food and hygiene kits for each family member, jerry cans for water (for citizens, who do not have water supply), candles (citizens, who have suffered from the shelling).
In addition, humanitarian aid was delivered to uncontrolled Gorlovka. Here, representatives of the international organization “Doctors without Borders” delivered insulin for diabetics. In general, the health sector in the region remains extremely problematic issue. In particular, in the Donetsk region there was a shortage of drugs for HIV-infected, stock of antiretroviral medicines comes to the end. Patients with HIV can receive legally prescribed drugs only if they arrive on the territory under Ukrainian control.
The humanitarian situation on Donbas territories under Ukrainian control is better than in DNR and LNR. However, it also requires external support. Last week the German Society GIZ sent humanitarian aid to Kramatorsk. The humanitarian cargo includes soap and shampoo, dishwashing detergent, toothbrushes and toothpaste, washing powder and other hygiene products.
Help is also provided at the interstate level. Last week it was reported that Switzerland will increase the assistance to Ukraine up to 100 million Swiss francs in 2015-2018. The new strategy of cooperation between Ukraine and Switzerland provides special attention to the Ukrainian citizens and territories affected by armed conflict.
International organizations demonstrated that the armed conflict in Donbas and its consequences are not short-term. Thus, last week it became known that the UN monitoring mission for human rights in Ukraine (MMPLU) will continue its work during next six months. The corresponding document was signed by Yuri Klimenko – Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, and by Navi Pillay – the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In addition, it became known that the special monitoring mission of the OSCE in Ukraine can be expanded up to a thousand people. It was stated by Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE Secretary General, during the speech at a joint meeting of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Security and Defense of the European Parliament in Brussels.