The Ministry for Reintegration carries out monitoring of developments in the situation on the temporarily occupied territories within the framework of the information reintegration strategy of territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol temporally occupied by the Russian Federation.
During last reporting period (May 15-24, 2020) the following tendencies were observed:
1. Attempts of the Russian occupation administrations to refocus attention of the civilians from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (hereinafter referred to as “TOT of DLO”) from the crisis phenomena to the preparation of an imaginary "aggression from Ukraine".
During the last reporting period, the occupation administrations controlled by Russia have resorted to exacerbating public rhetoric, as well as to threats of military escalation on the front-line, which directly contradicts to the commitments made by the Russian side during the negotiations of the leaders of the "Norman format" in Paris (December 9, 2019) and within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group of the "Minsk Process".
Therefore, on May 19, the "Head" of the Russian occupation administration at the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk Oblast (hereinafter referred to as “TOT of LO”) Leonid Pasichnyk published an "urgent" appeal, in which he threatened to take "effective and decisive measures" to "move" the units of the Joint Forces Operation away from the power line "Mikhailivka-Kommunarska". Later on, the propaganda resources of the TOT of LO disseminated information about "mobilization of reservists" for "repel" of the Ukrainian troops.
On May 20-21, a number of similar statements were made by representatives of the Russian occupation administration at the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast (hereinafter referred to as “TOT of DO”). In particular, the "Head" of the occupation "authorities" Denys Pushylin announced the transfer of Russian-controlled units to the "combat-ready alert"; active movement and accumulation of military equipment was observed in Donetsk and other cities.
As a justification of such actions, both occupation administrations simultaneously named the "increase of shelling" allegedly carried out by Ukrainian troops. However, these false statements were quickly disavowed.
In particular, in response to the aggravation of the public rhetoric of the Russian-controlled "authorities" on the TOT DLO, the Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group, the second President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, in his letter to the OSCE initiated an urgent convocation of an extraordinary meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, which took place on May 22. During the meeting, the representatives of the OSCE SMM did not confirm the information about the "shelling" that was disseminated by the Russian side.
It should be noted that the occupation administrations are systematically hindering the activities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the TOT of DLO, blocking the possibility of recording the facts of the shelling by the Russian forces. In particular, on May 23, Russian occupation forces at TOT of DO carried out artillery shelling of the village Kamianka near Avdiivka, damaging two houses, proof of which was published by the press centre of the Joint Forces Operation.
The reasons for the radicalization of public statements by the occupation "authorities" are quite clear.
Firstly, in this way the occupation "authorities" are trying to refocus attention from the new irrefutable evidence of control over the occupied territories by the Russian Federation. This once again proves to the international community the status of the Russian Federation as an occupying state.
On May 14, 2020, at a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Ukrainian side made public disclosure of evidence that Vladyslav Deineho, the "representative of Luhansk" invited by Russia had Russian citizenship. On May 18, “representative of Donetsk" Nataliya Nikonorova invited by Russia acknowledged her Russian citizenship. She also reported that other so-called "representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk" invited by Russia to the Trilateral Contact Group meeting had Russian citizenship.
On May 21, Ukrainian diplomats during a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council made public disclosure of evidence that the "Head" of the occupation administration at the TOT of DO, Denys Pushylin had Russian citizenship. These facts will definitely be used in legal proceedings against the occupying state.
Secondly, with false statements about "aggressive intentions" of Ukraine, the Russian side is trying to refocus attention of the civilians at the TOT of DLO from the deterioration of issues in the economy and social sphere.
In particular, local residents have a very negative perception of the so-called "reorganization" of the coal industry, which will lead to the closure of several mines, the dismissal of tens of thousands of persons and the collapse of social infrastructure.
This has already caused protests, as the "reorganization" is taking place amidst of the increasing salary arrears. Therefore, after the protest of the miners of the "Nikanor-Nova" mine (Zorynsk, TOT of LO), they were paid back the salary arrears for 2 months out of 20. The rest were promised to be covered by May 25. However, it is known that this promise will not be fulfilled, and this will lead to further protests.
The situation on the TOT of DO is similar. In particular, salary arrears as of the beginning of May were at:
the so-called SE "Makiivvuhillia" - RUB 210 million, which is an average of RUB 30 thousand of debts to each of the 7.1 thousand employees;
the so-called SE "Ordzhonikvuhillia" - RUB 350 million, or an average of RUB 49 thousand to each of the 7.2 thousand employees;
the so-called SE "Artemvuhillia" - RUB 267 million, or an average of RUB 45 thousand to each of the 5.9 thousand employees and the like.
In order to overcome social unrest, 15-25% of monthly salary is paid periodically, keeping employees with promises. However, this does not stop the outflow of staff. Therefore, in the so-called SE "Torezantratsit" there is a debt of more than RUB 370 million to 13.2 thousand employees, although currently the company counts less than 8 thousand persons.
Along with salary arrears, coal enterprises at the TOT of DLO, many of which are controlled by Russia through the company "Vneshtorhservis", registered in South Ossetia (the Russian-occupied territory of Georgia), have accumulated billions in debts to the budgets of the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine, which brings closer the collapse of the budget and social spheres.
However, according to the monitoring data of the "Eastern Human Rights Group" (EHRG), during the occupation, almost 68 million tons of coal of various grades worth approximately USD 4.7 billion were exported from the territory of TOT of DLO to Russia. It is about a large-scale looting by the Russian side of the occupied areas of Donbas, which is left with empty subsoil and environmental problems. However, according to the EHRG, since 2015, 236 miners died and more than 2.5 thousand were seriously injured at the official mines at the TOT of DLO (not taking into account more than 350 illegal "mines").
The social situation is deteriorated by the return of those persons, who worked in Russia, but lost their jobs because of the economic crisis in the Russian Federation. People who lose their jobs are now considered by the Russian occupation administrations as a reserve for replenishing illegal armed groups, which could lead to increased provocations.
The Ministry for Reintegration, within its competence, draws the attention of the international community to the true causes of the false Russian accusations towards Ukraine.
2. Partial recognition by the Russian occupation administrations of the difficult situation with the COVID-19 epidemic
As of May 24, 2020,* Russian occupation administrations have published the following information on the incidence:
in Crimea - 340 confirmed cases (9 fatal, 153 recovered),
in Sevastopol - 155 confirmed cases (2 fatal, 114 recovered),
in TOT of DO - 385 confirmed cases (10 fatal, 102 recovered),
in TOT of LO* (as of May 22)- 377 confirmed cases (5 fatal, 133 recovered).
Over the past week, according to the Russian occupation administrations, the incidence rate has increased:
in Crimea - by 39%,
in Sevastopol - by 17%,
in TOT of DO - by 80% (number of recognized deaths has doubled from 5 to 10),
in TOT of LO* (as of May 22) - by 22% (number of recognized deaths has increased from 1 to 5).
The Ministry for Reintegration has repeatedly stressed that the occupation administrations submit false, considerably underestimated information about incidence and conceal fatal cases. As a result, including our information, a clear tendency of the last reporting period in the TOT of DLO was the forced partial recognition by the Russian occupation administrations of more cases of illness, as well as more fatal cases.
In particular, while previously "officially" at the TOT of DO it was recognized on average 10-15 new cases per day, as of May 21 there were 35 cases, as of May 22 there were 34, and as of May 23 there were 33. Therefore, in just three days the number of infected persons increased by 50%. Similarly, the "authorities" on the TOT of DO started to actively recognize cases among medical workers. For example, on Sunday, May 24, 13 new cases of coronavirus were reported for May 23, including 6 among medical workers. Only 2 new cases were reported on Sunday, May 17.
On May 19 on the TOT of LO it was reported about the death of the head physician of Luhansk Multidisciplinary Clinical Hospital No.4 Oleksii Navrotskyi from coronavirus. This case could not be concealed, which to some extent contributed to the recognition of 3 more deaths.
It should be noted that the tendency to distort the "official" data on the incidence on the TOT of DLO persists, there are grounds to claim more infected persons and more deaths from COVID-19. In particular, the data on incidence among the personnel of the Russian occupation military contingent is completely hidden. There is still a lack of tests and personal protective equipment, and the shortage of doctors is growing.
Amidst this situation, on May 20, the "Head" of the Russian occupation administration on the TOT of DO Denys Pushylin announced his intention to provide "humanitarian aid" in the form of personal protective equipment, disinfectants and medicines to South Ossetia (the Russian-occupied territory of Georgia). This was very ambiguously received in Donetsk. According to available information, Denys Pushylin had a deal to be realized with technical support of A. Zoirov of the so-called "Ministry of Industry and Trade" and during which the goods in short supply to be sold to Russia.
In general, the epidemiological situation in the context of COVID-19 spread is much more complicated than in the Government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. In particular, in Donetsk Oblast, the number of infected persons is 2.7 times less than on the TOT of DO, with a comparable population rate and a larger number of tests performed. At the same time, it should be noted about the transparency of actions of the Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which does not hide the facts of COVID-19 incidence among servicemen.
There is still a tendency in the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, when a significant threat for the local population is posed by the occupation military contingents, the situation around which is absolutely not transparent, as well as persons coming from Russia.
Therefore, on May 18 the "Head" of the Russian occupation administration in Sevastopol Mykhailo Razvozhaiev reported the identification of the disease in a man who arrived from Moscow on May 9 and was infected there. On May 23 the "Head" of the Russian occupation administration in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Serhii Aksonov reported on infected woman who arrived from St. Petersburg.
On May 22, 2 672 vehicles arrived to Crimea from Russia over the bridge in the area of the Kerch Strait, and a record number of 75 vehicles were not allowed to enter the Peninsula (according to the explanation of the "police" - "there were no grounds for entry"), 25 vehicles were not released from Crimea ("there were no grounds for departure"). In other words, the occupation "authorities", even having announced about the easing of quarantine and self-isolation regime, are trying to limit the movement of people from / to Russia, setting new requirements.
Therefore, as a result of an outbreak of the disease at one of the construction sites in Simferopol (on May 23, 11 cases were identified at once), there is a requirement for employers to report the arrival of "shift workers" within a week. Persons who, according to local "officials," without a valid reason arrive to Crimea, are to be send to the observatories at their expense.
The Ministry for Reintegration will continue to inform about the epidemiological situation in the TOT of DLO and the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in order to alert citizens of the danger.
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
May 21 marked 2 years of the detention of one of the coordinators of the group "Crimean Solidarity" Server Mustafaiev, father of four children, whose youngest daughter was only 2 months old at the time of detention. He has been unjustifiably detained for two years for law enforcement activities. International organization "Amnesty International" recognized Mustafaiev as a prisoner of conscience.
May 24 marked 4 years of the disappearance of Ervin Ibrahimov, a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars. Ervin's whereabouts remain unknown to this day, and the circumstances of his disappearance give grounds to suggest that he was abducted. In total, there are 16 missing persons in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.
Same way last week, representatives of the penal system of the Russian Federation transferred political prisoner Volodymyr Dudka from the medical part of colony No. 11 (Stavropol, Russia) to the barracks. After the abduction and torture, he was sentenced to 14 years of strict regime colony and has been unreasonably deprived of his liberty for 3.5 years, allegedly because of "preparation of sabotage actions". Such actions pose a direct threat to the life and health of Ukrainian citizen, especially in the context of the spread of COVID-19 in Russian penitentiaries.
The Russian occupation "authorities" continue to pressure and systematically violate human rights. Sometimes it expresses in a rather absurd manner. For example, last week, one of the "courts" issued a decision to transfer the activist Edem Bekirov, who was released as part of a mutual exchange, from the Ukrainian mainland to the Ukrainian Peninsula, temporarily occupied by Russia. Also before the Day of Remembrance of the Victims Deportation of 1944, a lot of Crimean Tatar activists and lawyers received a warning, de facto prohibition to participate even in solidarity actions of memorial.
Amidst the aforementioned, the Russian Federation organized a video conference on May 21 at the UN Security Council site on the situation in Crimea. According to the plan of the Russian Federation, persons loyal to their occupation administration, selected on national, professional and religious grounds (to imitate the representation of Ukrainian, Crimean Tatars, journalists and Muslims), had the opportunity to highlight the advantages of the Russian occupation regime and express their criticism towards Ukraine. This manipulation failed, representatives of the UN Security Council member states once again condemned the occupation of the Ukrainian Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation.
Since May 19 conscripts were sent to Crimea for military service. In particular, a group of 21 conscripts from Sevastopol were sent for service in the coastal defence units of the Army Corps of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Occupation authorities in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol announce its intention to conscript about 3 thousand persons into the army during the spring-summer 2020, of which about 400 will serve in the territory of Ukraine - the Crimean Peninsula. In general, since 2015, the Russian Federation, in violation of international obligations of the occupying state, conscripted for the armed forces around 22.5 thousand persons. At the same time, about 80 criminal cases were initiated against persons who avoided being conscripted to the Russian occupation army.
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.
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, 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.