Restoring Donbas: main events during the 13-19 April
23:50 / 20 Apr. 2015 / 1379
Last week became another week of ceasefire in Donbas. However, it had local breaches. First of all, it refers to suburbs of Donetsk and Mariupol. The situation in Eastern Ukraine is still the main topic of international negotiations. United Nations has questions about electronic pass-entry system, and displaced people from Donbas pay fines for attempting to leave ATO zone safely. More details in our weekly review of key news.
Diplomatic solutions to the situation in Donbas
Last week, the meeting of the foreign ministers of “the Norman Four” took place in Berlin. According to the diplomats, the meeting was difficult, the parties could not understand each other on all issues.
Pavlo Klimkin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stated: “I consider this meeting to be traditionally difficult. We managed to agree on a number of issues, and other topics will be discussed in future”.
Klimkin believes that the participants of the “Norman format” in Ukraine are ready to discuss the injection of peacekeepers. “I clearly outlined the logic of such mission. This should be the mission of supporting the Minsk agreements. I specified the areas where the mission could and should be useful. After that, we’ll proceed the discussion, “- said the Minister.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, call on Ukraine and Russia to move to the next stage of implementing Minsk arrangements. It was stated in an interview with the German edition of Die Welt. According to him, it is about holding local elections in territories, which are beyond the Ukrainian control, as well as about the improvement of the humanitarian situation and restoration of Donbas.
In addition, by the end of this week, Francois Hollande , the President of France, is going to meet Petro Poroshenko, in order to discuss the situation in Donbas. He stated it during a visit to Bern on Wednesday, April 16. According to Le Figaro, the French newspaper, implementation of the Minsk agreements will be the main topic of discussion. In addition, the French president said that a few days before the Poroshenko’s visit, he and Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, will make efforts to achieve the implementation of a peace plan, adopted in Minsk.
International organizations are also active.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is planning to send a mission to the East of Ukraine. It was reported by Bais Wack-Voya, the head of the Russian representative office of the UNHCR.
He stated: “We have offices in Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv. We hope that the conflict will not be resumed, therefore, mission has to go there”. Furthermore, Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, will also go to Donbas in late May. He intends to visit the Eastern regions, which are under the control of armed groups.
Pass-entry system in ATO area
Pass-entry system through the line of demarcation remains a crucial problem, which requires solving. In particular, while pass-entry system continues to operate in its current form, fake passes are regularly detected at checkpoints. Thus, last week, border guards detained seven people, who were trying to cross the line of demarcation of ATO area with forged passes. Fake passes were found by border guards in following control points of entry / exit: “Kostiantynivka”, “Nikolaevka” (Donetsk region) and “Lisichansk” (Lugansk region). Detained were transferred to the police by the border guards.
Last week, the possibility of creating a single coordination Centre for the issuance of permits / passes was discussed at a meeting of security officials in the Luhansk region. It is assumed that local authorities will be involved in its work. Participants of the event discussed issues concerning the optimization of procedures for the issuance of permits / passes on the citizen’s movement, goods and delivery of cargo, the development of a single algorithm to ensure smooth movement of staff and specialized vehicles and public utilities gas, electricity and water supply, as well as voyage passenger’s transportation.
Meanwhile, according to the UN, the electronic pass-entry system (another innovation capacity of the system, introduced by the authorities) invokes concerns related to the security data storage. It was stated in a weekly report (which was published on Monday) of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In particular, the document includes the information that the personal data of 6,000 people, who have applied for permits, were freely available on the Internet.
Electronic system itself, which is working in “test mode», faces the problems. Last week, sector “C” (Artemovsk-Horlovks) said that during last 4 days of their e-mail box does not receive letters related to obtaining passes.
In the territory of the unrecognized republics
In general, the economic situation remains complicated in Donbas. This week, Volodymyr Demchishin, the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, stated that there are no electricity supplies through the backbone networks to the Donbas regions, which are not controlled by Ukraine. He said: “Electricity is not currently available to the occupied territories by the backbone wiring. It is, perhaps, supplied through the lines of a capacity of 110 kW or less, due to the fact that the power system has such structure, which cannot separate it”.
However, there were the part positive messages, which were expressed by the authorities: this week, Boris Lozhkyn, the head of the Presidential Administration, called for the restoration of economic relations with the part of Donbas controlled by the DNR and LNR. Answering the question “will Ukraine increase the economic isolation of the occupied territory of Crimea and Donbas”, he said: “On the contrary, I hope that the economy and the economic connections will be recovered in some areas of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions as a result of last Minsk agreements. Our major export production are also located there. We can see that most of the people in those territories do not want to escalate the conflict. They want the restoration of economy. They want to earn money and live in peace”.
Meanwhile, LNR and DNR intensified its efforts to establish transport connection with external territories.
This week, a new bus route, which allows leaving the territories controlled by the “republic», was launched in DNR. The route “Debaltseve- Sloviansk” goes through Yenakiyevo, Gorlovka and Artemivs’k. Furthermore, the leadership of “republics” stated that they are preparing before the launching a new bus route Donetsk-Sevastopol, which will go through the Russia.
Another positive news for uncontrolled territories was the fact that the residents of ATO zone were returned tax benefits (payment of a social contribution), municipal payments and the payment of bank loans. In October 2014, they adopted a regulation of the Cabinet, but after 7 days, the Prime Minister has suspended its action. As a result, people and companies had problems with banks. They could not get their salaries (it was not paid within the territory of the Ukrainian army due to uncertainties of payment of a social contribution). Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal ruled that the Cabinet has no right to suspend their judgment.
Life of displaced persons from Donbas
This week, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (HRC) opposed the practice of imposing fines on persons who choose a safe route through the Russian Federation in order get to the territory, which is controlled by the Ukraine (they have to pass through checkpoints on the state border, which were officially closed by Ukraine officially).
Ukrainian border guards draw up reports on administrative offense under Art. 204-1 KUoAP Ukraine – for illegally crossing the border near Izvarino and send them to court. In this case, displaced persons, who have chosen a safer way, faces a fine from one hundred to two hundred of non-taxable minimum income of citizens or administrative arrest for up to fifteen days).
There are specific problems among certain categories of people. In particular, a settlement in the hostel and receiving of student tickets – is a mass problem of displaced students. In particular, according to the “National Student Union”, 40% of displaced students could not settle in the hostels, and 47% displaced students did not receive student tickets. The question of scholarship’s payment is still difficult for displaced students. According to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, universities can pay scholarships to displaced students only from its own budget.
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