INFORMATION REPORT ON THE MAIN TENDENCIES ON TOT FOR JUNE 1-12, 2020
Within the framework of the information reintegration strategy the Ministry for Reintegration carries out monitoring of developments in the situation on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.
During last reporting period (June 1-12, 2020) the following tendencies were observed:
1. Speculations of the Russian occupation administrations on the COVID-19 epidemic to increase pressure on citizens and block the opening of the EECP on the contact line
As of June 12, 2020* Russian occupation administrations have released the following information on the COVID-19 incidence:
Crimea - 490 confirmed cases (15 fatal, 357 recovered),
Sevastopol - 179 confirmed cases (3 fatal, 151 recovered),
TOT of Donetsk oblast - 797 confirmed cases (35 fatal, 208 recovered),
TOT of Luhansk oblast* (as of June 4) - 429 confirmed cases (9 fatal, 341 recovered).
Two circumstances deserve special attention.
First, the number of identified cases increased by 44% and the number of deaths increased by 75% on the TOT of Donetsk oblast for 10 days. Starting from the second half of May, 25-35 new cases have been recorded daily in the occupied areas of Donetsk, a significant number of which were doctors. Also 1-3 fatal cases are recorded daily.
This differs radically from the April statistics, first half of May, when single cases of coronavirus infection were recognized and total mortality was hidden. It also indicates a significant number of cases of COVID-19 hidden by the occupation authorities in the first 2 months of the epidemic, which posed a direct threat to citizens.
Secondly, manipulations with statistics became even more evident in TOT of Luhansk oblast. In particular, the latest information on the incidence was published as of June 4. At the same time, on June 3, statements about "complete stabilization of the situation" were voiced and strict quarantine restrictions were lifted in all settlements except for Dovzhansk city. Moreover, on June 7 a statement was made about an alleged "outbreak" of infection and "quarantine" was introduced in the Antratsyt district and Dovzhansk city (which on time "coincided" with the strike of the miners at the mine "Komsomolska", information below). However, new data on the incidence have not been released.
Amidst aforementioned, the Russian occupation administrations have been extremely hostile to the intentions of the Ukrainian authorities to start the process of adaptive opening of the EECP to improve the social and humanitarian situation.
Therefore, starting from June 10, in addition to the possibility to cross the EECP on humanitarian grounds, it was decided to open two EECPs in a limited regime - "Marinka" (Donetsk oblast) and "Stanitsa Luhanska" (Lugansk oblast) - for the movement of citizens for social and humanitarian purposes.
This intention was announced in advance to the Russian occupation administrations at the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. However, they simultaneously refused to unblock the movement across the contact line with the same inadequate explanations, which is yet another proof of Russia's external control over the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
After negative reaction of citizens to the movement blockage across the EECP, the occupation "authorities" controlled by Russia put forward absolutely unacceptable conditions: they declared their readiness to let people out to the free part of Donbas, but to let them back in to the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts only according to previously agreed lists with subsequent self-isolation or medical observation.
The "Heads" of the occupation administrations have completely ignored the fact, that there are more than 280 thousand persons waiting for the opportunity to receive pensions and social benefits, which during the entire quarantine were accumulated on bank cards in the Government-controlled territory of Ukraine. Formation and coordination of lists for such a number of persons is absolutely unreasonable.
Such response of the Russian occupation administrations can only be explained by unwillingness to let the children out from TOT, who are going to study in Ukrainian universities.
This year, the Government of Ukraine expanded the list of educational institutions up to 101, which the applicants from the temporarily occupied territories will be able to enter without passing the external independent testing through the educational centres "Crimea-Ukraine" and "Donbas-Ukraine". Representatives of the educational centres have already started their work. Applicants only need to choose a specialty and educational institution they would like to enter, and apply to the educational centre in this institution from June 9 to October 23, 2020. Contacts of the centres are available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.
This process takes place amidst the discriminatory decisions against the Ukrainian language and statements on "reorganization of the education system" at the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which provides for the reduction of educational institutions due to lack of pupils and students, as well as the total russification of the educational process.
Aforementioned amendments are implemented within the framework of preparation of educational institutions from the TOT of Luhansk oblast for accreditation by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. According to the available data, the Department of Education, Science and Youth Policy of the Voronezh Region of the Russian Federation will accredit schools at the TOT of Luhansk oblast.
The Russian occupation authorities encourage graduates of secondary general-education schools to pass the Unified State Examination (USE) of the Russian Federation. The exams are held in the Rostov region of the Russian Federation. According to the available data, in the first half of August this year there should be about 350 graduates from schools at the TOT of Donetsk oblast and 200 graduates from schools at the TOT of Luhansk oblast who have to pass USE in Russia.
On June 12, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has adopted a decision to resume the work of all EECPs on the administrative line with the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol temporarily occupied by Russia from June 15.
Russian occupation administrations of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol are going to ease quarantine restrictions from June 15, including for visitors from Russian regions.
The tendency to conceal information on the incidence rate in the Russian occupation military contingents continues all over TOT.
The Ministry for Reintegration will continue to inform on the epidemiological situation in the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in order to alert citizens of the danger.
2. The Russian Federation blocks a dialogue on peaceful settlement amidst rapid deterioration of a social and economic situation on the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine
Last week, Ukraine has realized its long-declared intention to involve representatives of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, who were forced to leave TOT after the Russian occupation, to the work of the Trilateral Contact Group for the Peaceful Settlement in Donetsk delegation for consultations provided for in the Minsk agreements.
On June 9-10, journalists Denys Kazanskyi and Serhii Harmash represented some districts of Donetsk oblast, while the Chairman of the International NGO "Luhansk Zemliatstvo", lawyer Vadym Horan and doctor Kostiantyn Libster represented some districts of Luhansk oblast in the work process of the Trilateral Contact Group.
Citizens of the Russian Federation, who speak at the sessions of the Trilateral Contact Group on behalf of the Russian occupation administrations, tried to challenge the right of persons who are representatives of the interests of more than 1.5 million of internally displaced persons to be involved in deciding the fate of Donbas. But these attempts were not successful.
The Ukrainian side informed the participants of the consultations, that advisers of the Ukrainian delegation are representatives of the ORDLO (certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) of Ukraine will take part in the working groups of the Trilateral Contact Group and in the Trilateral Contact Group Format on a permanent basis.
The unwillingness of Russian-controlled actors to engage in a dialogue on the parameters of a peaceful settlement is observed amidst the rapid deterioration of the socio-economic situation in TOT. First of all, it is about accumulation of wage arrears.
The Ministry for Reintegration informed in the previous reports on the accumulation of wage arrears on coal, metallurgical enterprises and railway at the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
On June 5, the workers of "Komsomolska" mine (Antratsyt city) went on strike. More than 120 miners refused to come to the surface until they had been paid off their wage arrears for the last three months. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Russian occupation "authorities" are "reorganizing" the coal enterprises at the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which leads to job cuts. Moreover, after the "reorganization", occupation authorities are trying to formally leave wage arrears on old legal entities, depriving miners of earned money.
The "authorities" of the TOT of Luhansk oblast tried to isolate the strikers, declaring "quarantine" on June 7 in Antratsyt district and Rovenky city, which de-facto seemed like blockage of the accesses to the striking mines. Attempts to block the work of social network and mobile communication were recorded in this area. However, information about the strike has spread.
The strike was supported by miners of "Belorechenskaia" mine (Bilorichensk village, Lutuhyno district, TOT of Luhansk oblast). In order to prevent the strike and demonstrations in the mine, the occupation authorities announced the imposition of fines for being late for work (in the amount of RUB 5000), and that wages will be reduced by 2 times for all potential participants of the strike (up to RUB 9000/month).
At the same time as the miners, the workers of two workshops of Alchevsk metallurgical plant (AMP) went on strike for wage arrears. Those who currently control AMP, were forced to make concessions to reduce the protest sentiment. There is every reason to believe that the situation in the economy of the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts provoked by Russia's actions will deteriorate and will cause new demonstrations.
The strike of miners at "Komsomolska" mine continues, more than 100 persons remain underground for a week. However, the media of the TOT of Luhansk oblast ignores the fact of the strike completely, or to discredit it is filed as an instigated protest. As the matter stands, according to available information, several active supporters of the strikes were kidnapped by militants controlled by Russia.
The Ministry for Reintegration will draw attention of international monitoring missions to this situation, as it poses a direct threat to the life and health of citizens.
Amidst an increase in the number of strikes by workers of industrial enterprises on the TOT of Luhansk oblast, the occupation authorities have intensified measures to repay wage arrears. On June 5, 2020, the so-called "SUE LPR "Luhansk railway" announced the wage arrears repayment for the last three months for the period up to June 12, 2020.
Due to the difficult situation of the railway on the TOT of Donetsk oblast, the occupation "authorities" take administrative measures to pay the wage arrears. Although the tendency will show itself in the reduction of working hours, accumulation of wage arrears, reduction of job places.
Therefore, exacerbation of the socio-economic situation at the TOT of Donetsk oblast has already led to a noticeable deterioration of the criminal situation. In the Telmanove, Starobesheve and Amvrosiivka districts, there was recorded an increase in offenses by 50% compared to the same period in 2019.
There also was an intensive propaganda campaign on the "Den Rossii" on June 12. In particular, this was manifested in statements of Russian officials on their intention to issue 600-800 thousand more Russian passports to the residents of the TOT of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by the end of the year. Large-scale measures are also being taken to visualize the Russian presence in the temporarily occupied territories, steles are being installed, and Russian flags are being forcibly hung on the balconies of private houses.
Spanish resident Yevheniia Yepes-Veniesa was kidnapped by militants controlled by Russia for attempt to remove Russian flags from the balcony of her apartment, which were placed there without permission. The occupation "authorities" refused to pay attention to this incident and blocked its consideration at the Trilateral Contact Group session.
3. Continued commitment to the militarization of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol amidst flagrant violations of the human rights
On June 10, 2020, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation detained a 20-year-old local resident Andrii Kuliievych in Sevastopol. He is charged with preparation for a terrorist attack and public calls for extremist activities. On the same day five more persons were detained for an alleged explosion at a market in Simferopol. Andrii Kuliievych is accused of ties with "Ukrainian radical groups that are fighting in the East".
In Balaklava district, in Orlyne village, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation detained Ruslan Bekirov, who had previously served as a witness for the defence on the case of establishment of the organization "Hizb-ut-Tahrir" and claimed pressure from "law enforcement officers".
Last week there were about 20 court sessions on various cases, on the case of Ukrainian activist Oleh Prykhodko, on several cases against "groups" of "Hizb-ut-Tahrir", against "Jehovah's Witnesses" and others.
The so-called "Main Investigation Department of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol" completed the "investigation" of the fabricated criminal case against the leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Jemilev, and the case materials were transferred to the "court".
Russian occupation "authorities" in the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol is constantly expanding the tools for militarization of all spheres of public life.
In particular, on June 8 the "Head" of the occupation administration of Sevastopol Mykhailo Razvozhaiev announced his intention to revive the full-scale work of DOSAAF (Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Navy) to prepare recruits for the occupation troops. The DOSAAF are planned to be used for the development of the movement of the paramilitary children's and teenagers' "Unarmy".
Also the first recruitment will be held in the new academic year in Sevastopol for training in a branch of the St. Petersburg Cadet Corps of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, two eighth and two ninth grades. Despite the seemingly law enforcement direction of training, the cadets are obliged to wear the naval uniform of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
In the period from April 1 to July 15 of this year, the occupation authorities in the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have conducted another conscription campaign for military service. During the occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol against citizens of Ukraine, who refused to perform military service in the divisions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, 105 criminal cases were introduced, 96 out of which are completed, with the sentences handed down by the "courts of Crimea".
According to the international law, the activities of the occupying state in conscripting the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol into the armed forces is a war crime.
Over the past period, there were about 15 notable exercises held of the Russian occupation contingent units on the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol from naval formations of ships and training of air defence forces to the command and staff training of communication units with the military authorities and exercises of calculations of "Bastion" and "Bal" coastal missile systems.
In particular, a camp gathering of intelligence of the army corps of the Black Sea Fleet, which will last for one month, began on the Crimean training area. About 200 servicemen and 50 pieces of equipment are involved in it. The purpose of the gathering is to train intelligence to operate on unfamiliar terrain.
A servicemen from the 95th Airborne Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yevhen Dobrynskyi was arrested for "illegal border crossing" per month by the decision of the "court" in Crimea. According to the available information, on May 30 he was kidnapped by Russian special services during his duty in the area of Arabat Spit.
The Ministry for Reintegration draws the attention of the international community to the failure of the occupying state to comply with its obligations to protect the life and health of civilians in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
The information was prepared with the assistance of the intelligence community of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, and Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Civil-military administrations of Donetsk and Luhansk, Kherson Regional State Administration.
We thank colleagues for their cooperation.