The Reality of Life in Donetsk: a local inhabitant tells the story

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July 10, 2015

The Reality of Life in Donetsk: a local inhabitant tells the story

By Polina Dubinina

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

1. General situation

It’s stable, the city is alive. It’s very clean, decorated, roads are being repaired, you see fresh surfaces everywhere, utility crews are working around the clock, you can see educational institutions advertised everywhere, also ads for important city events and happenings. Maybe not a million roses are blooming, but definitely 500 thousand. Problems: they are shelling Kievskiy and Petrovskiy subdivisions without pity, Tekstilshchik is also being hit, Oktyabrskiy is being ground into dirt, so in those parts people aren’t living, they are surviving.

2. Education

All schools, kindergartens, universities, and technical schools are working. So are arts palaces, the soccer academy, etc. The language of instruction remains the same as before, if a school was a Ukrainian-language one, it remains that way right now. Any talk about a language problem is a lie and provocation.

Graduates are receiving DPR certificates and get free bus trips to Rostov to take the Unified State Exam and to enter Russian universities on Russia’s budget. Problems: kids who left to finish their 11th grade in Russia have Russian certificates but Ukrainian passports, which means the Russian government won’t pay for their higher education.

Kids entering local colleges need only a DPR certificate and entrance exam results. College graduates receive two diplomas apiece. For example, the medical college issued local diplomas and, after special exams, also the diplomas of the 1st Moscow Medical after the college obtained the proper license. Those graduates who believed their previous fraudster dean and left Donetsk now have big problems. They did not get diplomas, only grade sheets. So now you have situation like these: you study for six years and get only a transcript, you suddenly have to pay for dorms, and your future is foggy. It’s a sad situation.

3. Healthcare

Everything is working. Patients are taken care of thanks to Russian humanitarian aid, through MChS and concerned citizens [like Dunya Sheremetyeva…], for which they are owed tremendous gratitude. Before the war, there were about 200 births in Donetsk, now only 70-80. Pharmacies: half are closed, the rest have medicines except of Ukrainian manufacture. You can’t compare prices with Kiev’s, because some drugs are much cheaper, others are more expensive, but the majority comes from different sources so it’s impossible to compare.

Problems: the irregularity with which humanitarian cargoes arrive at hospitals, and the high prices for some drugs.

4. Transportation.

City transit works like clockwork. There are more cars in spite of gas problems. No military equipment on the streets, sometimes you see a camouflaged vehicle or a military truck, but that’s all. Problems: gasoline, we’re out of it since last week, they are promising deliveries, but so far gas stations are empty.

5. Shops, restaurants, theaters

They are working. Supermarkets have local, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian products. You can get anything you want at markets, I found a supplier of my favorite yoghurt, he says its forbidden and dangerous to carry yoghurt through Ukrainian checkpoints, like narcotics, for example. Therefore you have to give bribes for loyalty which raises prices. Problems: the blockade. It’s like Leningrad during the war. Once again, many thanks to Russia for humanitarian convoys. And one pities Ukrainian manufacturers: they lost a huge market which is now being conquered by Rostov, Krasnodar, and other Russian regions.

6. Prices

Everything is more expensive, food by a factor of 2-3 on average. Here are the prices in a cafe in central Donetsk:

A receipt from breakfast and the most expensive item:

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Problems: prices went up, the salaries are as before.

7. Salaries, pensions, stipends.

Everything is being paid. There are no arrears. Hryvnias were used until April, now it’s rubles, but in May the health care workers were paid in dollars using a favorable exchange rate.

Problems: absence of debit cards, which means there are lines in banks. They promise to fix it by September.

8. TV, internet, communications

There is internet, free wi-fi in public places and all institutions. About 5 local TV channels. Plus Russian ones and others. That’s if you have cable. Satellite TV is another matter, of course. Cell phone service: MTS, Life. They are promising Feniks, a local cell phone network, by the end of summer. Problems: Sometimes Kiev cuts off cell phone service, therefore Feniks is sorely needed. Also, they have cut off all the cell phone payment terminals, nowadays you can add minutes only through the internet, or someone on the other side can do it for you.

9. Businesses.

Not all are working: It’s impossible to bring in raw materials or take out ready products, the director  ran off, the warehouse was bombed–there are many reasons. But many are both working and paying taxes.

Problems: the shelling of enterprises and artificial Ukrainian obstacles to their operation.

10. Army

To Kiev’s chagrin, the militia is becoming an army, with discipline, subordination, training, equipment. There are many troops in the city but they are not feared, it’s part of life. There is no Russian army. Which is a problem in the current situation, although everyone probably understands it has to be that way.

11. Government.

It has the people’s trust.

Problems: The government doesn’t know the future. Or pretends it doesn’t know it. Although it’s possible nobody knows it.

12. Relations with Ukraine.

Sadness. Because Ukraine is no longer united, it is trying to push out the Donbass every way it can: financial and economic blockade, the requirement to bring out children only with a notarized permission, migration cards, the closing of roads, checkpoint extortion–dear Lord, what are they doing, it’s indescribable horror! Propaganda of Nazism and Fascism, what more need I say. The Ukro-government is doing everything to make itself hated.

Problems: no light at the end of the tunnel.

13. Final notes.

If the shelling were to stop, everything would be fine. How how can they be stopped?

So we live on and hope.

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