Ministry for Reintegration within the framework of its activities collects and analyses information on the current situation in the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, as well as in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The following tendencies and peculiarities have been recorded within the last week.

1. Recognition of the serious deterioration of the situation in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic

In all the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, both in Donbas and Crimea the epidemiological situation is worsening due to the spread of COVID-19 disease. This is the result of irresponsible actions of the Russian occupation administrations, which for a long-time concealed information on the actual situation, deliberately putting citizens at risk.

In particular, on April 22, the occupation administrations in ORLO (occupied areas of Luhansk Oblast) and ORDO (occupied areas of Donetsk Oblast) simultaneously recognized the existence of the first lethal cases from coronavirus. Information on a significant increase in the number of infected persons was also made public simultaneously.

This ‘coincidence’ is evidence that the decision to disclose information about the epidemic is taken at one centre, which coordinates the work of both Russian occupation organizations within the framework of effective control regime by the occupying state.

Whereas in the morning of April 22 the occupying authorities in ORDO claimed 36 cases of coronavirus, then in the evening of the same day 67 cases had already been announced (an increase by 86%). On April 22, the occupation administration in ORLO announced 48 cases (an increase by 2.3 times compared to April 17).

In general, the Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk published information that “as of today there are 67 cases of coronavirus in ORLO, 8825 persons are under surveillance” (data from the Russian occupation ‘authorities’ in Donetsk) and the stay “under the surveillance of more than 5000 residents, and up to 100 persons in infectious departments”(data from the Russian occupation ‘authorities’ in Luhansk). Thus, in ORDLO, according to their data, more than 13 000 persons are under surveillance through the coronavirus COVID-19.

Since April 22, additional restrictive measures have been introduced in ORLO, it is forbidden to visit patients in hospitals and cemeteries (except for burial services), permits for movement are introduced. Due to the negative epidemiological situation, the main exits from the city have been blocked from Khrustalnyi (previously known as Krasnyi Luch). Pervomaisk was closed for quarantine on April 15, civilians are extremely concerned about the lack of reliable sources of information about the epidemic, because people are aware of the facts of the disease, including medical workers, concealed by the occupation administration.

Donetsk Regional Clinical Territorial Medical Association (hospital named after Kalinin) and City Hospital in Horlivka No. 3 in ORDO have been transferred to quarantine from April 18. Patients from these hospitals are taken to health institutions in Makiivka, Yasynuvata and Zuhres. Measures are taken to stop long-distance communication, including between the cities of Makiivka and Donetsk. Previously, Novyi Svit, where the Starobeshevska thermal power station is located, was transferred to the strict isolation mode. On April 22 in Snizhne there were discovered two cases of coronavirus, persons have recently arrived from Moscow.

Representatives of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea as of the morning of April 23 recognized 53 cases of infection. In particular, the coronavirus was diagnosed in a married couple of volunteers from Yalta, who were infected by a visitor from the Russian Federation. Because of this, there were more than 30 persons at risk, who were in self-isolation and to whom these volunteers delivered products.

The ‘Head’ of the Russian occupation administration in Sevastopol, Razvozhaiev Mykhailo, reported an increase in confirmed cases of infection from 18 to 25 during April 22.

Across the temporarily occupied territories, both in Donbas and Crimea, there is an acute shortage of medical personnel to escort patients, as well as the spread of coronavirus among the military occupation troops, which is carefully hidden.

The ‘Head’ of the occupation organization in Crimea, Aksonov Serhii, publicly urged the citizens of the Russian Federation not to go to Crimea to prevent the spread of infection on the territory of the Ukrainian Peninsula. At the same time representatives of Russian supervisory authorities admitted that the rate of coronavirus incidence growth in Crimea is higher than in Moscow.

This situation causes dissatisfaction of the local residents, acts of vandalism against vehicles with non-Crimean registration plates have been recorded.

2. The increasing challenges at coal industry and railway transport enterprises

Tendencies on deterioration of the economic situation in ORDLO territory have been increasing since the beginning of the year.

In particular, in ORLO territory in the first quarter of 2020 coal production decreased by 33% and production of ferroalloys decreased by 60%. At the same time, wage arrears increased by 40% (up to RUB 2.7 billion).

The most critical situation was in Khrustalnyi, where the total wage arrears of the city's enterprises increased by eight times within the year up to about RUB 580 million. The main reason is the exacerbation of crisis phenomena in coal mining industry.

In this context the occupation administration has already announced measures on “reorganization” of the coal industry. A ‘law’ on the procedure for liquidation of unprofitable enterprises has been adopted, which will actually mean a massive cutback.

During April, the mines “Novopavlivska”, “Miusynska”, and “Verhelivska” were already closed; the issue of ‘dry’ conservation of the “Nykanor-Nova” mine is under consideration. Within the year it is expected that 5 more mines will be closed down. The closure of coal enterprises threatens the social infrastructure facilities that were maintained at their expense.

Within the framework of the ‘reorganization’, a project to establish a ‘state unitary enterprise’ (SUE) under the working name “Shidvuhillia” (“Vostokuhol”) is being considered, to which all coal assets in ORLO territory will be transferred. These include the SUE “Centrouhol”, “Antratsyt” and “Uhlerestrukturizatsia”, as well as the so-called Branch 2 of CJSC “Vneshtorhservis” (“Rovenkyantratsyt”, “Sverdlovskantratsyt” and “Krasnodonvuhillia”).

According to the available information, Andrii Churin, a Russian citizen, who previously managed the coal branch of “Tuvynskoi Enerhetychnoi Promyslovoi Korporatsii” (“Tuva Energy Industrial Corporation”, led by Russian businessman Ruslan Baysarov), and recently headed Branch 2 of CJSC “Vneshtorhservis” is being considered for the position of the head of the new structure. The aforementioned company is registered in South Ossetia and manages a number of industrial enterprises in ORDLO within the framework of control by the occupying state.

During March-April, crisis phenomena in the operation of ORDLO railway has intensified. Amidst the economic stagnation and quarantine restrictions, the volumes of transportation have seriously decreased, workers are being transferred to a 3-4-day working week, and wage arrears have increased.

According to the available information, last week the leadership of the so-called “SE “Donets Railway” on the territory of ORDO made a decision to liquidate the railway junction at the station “Mykytivka” (Horlovka) and the adjacent infrastructure: the station, locomotive depot, emergency train and maintenance station. At the same time, among the workers of the station “Mykytivka” who will be dismissed, a campaign to join the occupation contingent controlled by the Russian Federation is being conducted.

3. Increasing pressure and human rights violations in the temporarily occupied Crimea

A series of events happened in April 2020 testifies the growing pressure of the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea on the citizens who do not accept the orders of the aggressor state.

In particular, the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated from January 9, 2011 is extended to the temporarily occupied Crimea and Sevastopol after 6 years of occupation, which determines the regime of lands in the border areas of the Russian Federation.

This decision creates prerequisites for forced seizure of 9.75 thousand land plots which border with Kherson Oblast or located in the coastal areas of the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol by the occupation authorities.

This act is a flagrant violation of the right to property and has already provoked strong criticism not only from Ukraine, but also from the international community. In case of attempts to seize land plots, the Ministry for Reintegration strongly recommends appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.

At the same time, the occupation ‘authorities’ have been massively sending ‘warnings’ to Crimean Tatars activists in order to prevent organization of any solidarity efforts and events in remembrance of the victims of deportation of indigenous people on May 18 under the guise of ‘combating extremism’.

Concurrently, the pressure on Crimeans for criminal and administrative persecution continues. In particular, withing the last 10 days the following situations occurred:

  • The so-called “Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in Crimea” trumped-up charges against the leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Abduldzhemil Jemilev on three articles, two of which were on the case of his son Haiser Jemilev.

  • The Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don (Russia) has extended the arrest of eight Crimean Tatars accused in the so-called “second Bakhchisaray Hizb ut-Tahrir case” for three months (until August 13).

  • The Lefortovo District Court of Moscow rejected an appeal against the extension of the detention of Ivan Yatskin, a Ukrainian citizen arrested for “treason against Russian Federation” (detention period is till June 16).

  • Prayer leader Dliaver Khalilov was summoned to the so-called ‘prosecutor's office’ of Radianskyi district to give explanations, allegedly on the fact of law violation. On April 22, during the repeated summon, administrative proceedings were opened against Khalilov for holding Friday prayer (namaz) in a mosque, which the prosecutor's office interpreted as holding an illegal assembly.

  • The Military Court of Appeals in military town Vlasiha (Russia) upheld the sentence of Crimean Tatar Enver Seitosmanov, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison on charges of organizing of the “Hizb ut-Tahrir” unit.

 On April 15, two persons who were arrested in Ukrainian Crimea by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, and who were called “Ukrainian Saboteurs” and accused of cooperation with the Ukrainian military intelligence. Representatives of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine considered these actions as another provocation and reaction to the arrest of SSU General in Kyiv, who is suspected of high treason and work for the intelligence services of the occupying state. The Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in his statement condemned another illegal detention.