Donbass News Round-Up: Humanitarian Aid Reunifying the Region and Russia

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April 24, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

The Editorial Board of the Cossack Herald – edited by J. Arnoldski – 

“Humanitarian Program for Reunifying the People of Donbass.  Lugansk – one people! We will help!”

Foreword from J. Arnoldski: Fort Russ is proud to present the third installment of our new weekly series made possible by cooperation with the editorial board of Cossack Herald newspaper, part of the Cossack Media Group based in Stakhanov, Lugansk People’s Republic, which we introduced to English-language audiences in February 2017. 


Reorienting the economy towards Russia

The Acting Minister of Industry and Trade of the People’s Republic of Lugansk, Igor Gorbatenkov, paid a business visit to industrial and trade enterprises in Kirovsk, specifically the Kirov Garment Factory “Kifado”, Kirovsky Forging Plant “Centrokuz”, “Stroybusiness” and the State Enterprise Network of Public Supermarkets “Narodny”. Reorienting Donbass’ economy from the Ukrainian market to the Russian market is a common task for all the enterprises of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk. Gorbatenkov’s visit was part of this process underway. 

In particular, Gorbatenkov announced: “The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the LPR (…) is providing comprehensive information to potential investors and customers from the Russian Federation. There are also negotiations with the Russian side on the application of a zero rate customs duty on our goods.”

Rail war ongoing 

On April 12th, Ukrainian Nazis undermined the railway between the stations of the Frunze Slavyanoserbsky district and Shipilovka Popasnyansky district. 

To recall, Ukrainian Nazis began a railway blockade of Donbass to stop the supply of coal to the territory of Ukraine. As a result, external management was introduced by Donbass authorities at enterprises under Ukrainian jurisdiction still working in the LPR and DPR to maintain production. In the enterprise “Ukrzaliznytsya” (Ukrainian Railways) in the LPR, external management was introduced back on April 7th. 

This decision was taken by the Council of Ministers of the Lugansk People’s Republic with the aim of timely paying out wages to the work collective and preserving jobs and property. The highest management body is the State Unitary Enterprise of the LPR, “Lugansk Railway”. The Acting Minister of Infrastructure and Transport of the People’s Republic of Lugansk, Vladimir Gerasimchuk, has emphasized that thanks to this initiative, jobs have been saved and wages will be paid on time. The minister also stressed that the Ukrainian government is ready for “reintegrating Donbass” only in words, while in fact it continues to strangle the region with blockades. 

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Ore aid from Russia

Against the backdrop of the economic blockade imposed by Ukraine against the Donbass Republics, Russia is implementing a set of measures to restore the social and economic life of Donbass, a task which is prescribed in the text of the Minsk Agreements. As part of this, ore is set to be delivered to the LPR and DPR and railway stations located near Russia’s “Severstal” company and specially introduced by Russian Railways.  Such an initiative by the Russian side should give a significant impulse to restoring the work of large industrial enterprises in the People’s Republics of Donbass. For example, the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic have already announced that they will be able to resume the work of the Enakievo Iron and Steel Works before the end of April.

Humanitarian program for helping the people of Donbass: interim results and prospects

On May 11th, 2014, those who voted at the referendum for the independence of their homeland found themselves on different sides of the border, but they did not cease to be the people of the LPR and DPR. In February this year, a joint decision by the heads of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics launched the Humanitarian Program for the Reunification of the People of Donbass. People living on the temporarily occupied territories have been provided with a whole range of services that were impossible to obtain in their actual places of residence under Ukrainian occupation. 

The presented Humanitarian Program for the Reunification of the People of Donbass concerns five areas: health, education, social assistance, culture, and the environment. One of the first difficult tasks faced by the organizers of the program was informing people about the state initiative. On all state and informational sites, special resources, and social networks, an information campaign was launched to spread the news of the initiative outside the republic. A hotline for treatments and consultations for citizens is also constantly working.

During the nearly two months of the hotline’s work, more than 3,000 citizens have already spoken to consultants, and the range of the areas from which calls are coming in is quite extensive. 

“3,000 have come not only from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but from all of Ukraine: Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Odessa, and Chernivtsi. Many citizens of Ukraine call and ask whether the program will spread to all of Ukraine,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPR, Nataliya Nikanorova, said.

Higher education institutions are already ready to accept 15,000 new admission requests, 23 special educational institutions can now help students with disabilities, and approximately 1,000 patients can now received treatment for cancer and prevention. Even before the introduction of the program, 1,125 patients from Ukraine applied for treatment in the LPR and DPR’s oncological clinics last year, and in the first three months of 2017, approximately 500 people passed through certain stages of therapy in the republic. However, the most relevant issue, according to the Acting Minister of Health of the DPR, Alexandra Oprischenko, remains prosthetics. Out of the 600 calls received by this hotline, more than half inquired into this topic. 

The Center for Children’s Medicine and Childbirth Assistance has also reported that two young families have arrived in Donetsk and had children after applying through the Humanitarian Program. 

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This program is made possible due to the fact that, within the framework of incoming medical and other humanitarian aid from Russia, all drugs and medical products are received generally free of charge.

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