The occupied territories of Donbas are increasingly turning into a backward region, where the industry is finally destroyed and the population is driven to the brink of survival.
Closure of mines, factories, non-payment of wages to workers became the norm. However, not everyone is ready to put up with this state of affairs, and from time to time people organize protests, defending their rights.
On June 5, it became known about another action of miners: at the mine “Komsomolska”, located in the occupied Antracyt, Luhansk region, workers of several shifts refused to rise to the surface. Thus, miners are protesting against non-payment of wages for February, March, and April. According to unofficial information, there are 60 to 150 people underground.
At the same time, the miners’ wives recorded a video message in which they expressed fears that the protesters would simply be fired. It is reported that the city was suddenly closed for alleged “quarantine”, and bus flights to the mine were canceled. Social media users also report that mobile communication has disappeared in Antracyt.
In early May, a similar protest took place on the territory of the so-called “LPR” – miners of the mine “Nikanor-Nova” (Perevalsky district, Zorynsk) refused to rise to the surface after the shift. People were not paid for almost six months and the mine was announced to be closed.
The protest ended after the miners were paid their salaries for October and November 2019. Representatives of the occupying authorities came to the miners and promised that all the debts would be repaid, but the enterprise would be preserved. In local publics, people write that the decision to close the mine was made by not “LPR”.
It is unknown at this time whether the debts have been repaid, as information from the occupied territories is extremely limited.
Enterprises are closed, mines are preserved or flooded
At the end of April, it became known that the so-called “LPR” was preparing to reorganize the entire coal industry: non-profit mines would be closed. However, their number is not reported.
A similar “reorganization” with job cuts was planned in the “DPR”.
“Currently, according to available information, only 6 so-called “state-owned mines” operate at a break-even level, while 11 are unprofitable. It should be noted that most of these assets are formally controlled by OJSC “Vneshtorgservice”, a company registered in South Ossetia (Russian-occupied territory of Georgia),” the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine said.
“More than 60 mines have been abandoned (in the occupied Donbas since 2014 – ed.), looted, the equipment has been handed over for scrap metal and flooded… The so-called “LPR” law on restructuring has been adopted – is the closure of mines. In fact, they are closing everything there,” said Mykhailo Volynets, a People’s Deputy and chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine.
According to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov, Russia is economically suppressing the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas, which indicates a colonial approach.
“They don’t care about Donbas at all, they took the equipment out of the factories, they close the mines there. There is a whole list of them. Currently, coal production has decreased by 33% in the temporarily occupied Donbas. They stopped giving quotas to sell this coal at the thermal power plant because Russian coal producers suffer from it, they increase arrears of wages,” the Minister said.
Keep tongue between teeth
Not only mines are being prepared for closure. In late May, rumors surfaced that one of the largest and oldest chemical companies in Ukraine, the Styrol plant, was being closed in occupied Horlivka. According to some sources, the workers were not paid for 14 months.
Even some pro-Russian propagandists reported a critical situation at the enterprise. However, in general, the residents of the occupied Donbas are afraid to openly report something, because it can lead to imprisonment, loss of health, or even life.
Actions that the occupiers and their representatives on the ground regarded as “unfriendly” are severely punished. For example, journalist and blogger Denys Kazansky reported that in Donetsk on June 3, militants abducted Spanish citizen Yevgenia Yepes-Ven’ez. The girl is originally from Ukraine, in the 90s she married a Spaniard and lived abroad permanently. She came to the occupied territory to visit her apartment in the center of Donetsk. Decorating the city, communal services hung a Russian flag on her balcony. However, the hostess removed the tricolor, because she did not give her consent to this “decoration”. In the evening, armed men broke into her apartment and arrested her. Now Yevgenia’s whereabouts are unknown.
People who are worried about the fate of the missing girl are appealing to international organizations (including the OSCE) with asking to intervene.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian activists of the Eastern Human Rights Group are sounding the alarm. According to them, the occupying power of Donbas is implementing programs to zombie children, trying to educate the younger generation in a completely pro-Russian way of thinking, to create new agents of influence of the “Russian world”.
As an example, human rights activists cite the program “Educating a young citizen”, which conducted a survey of parents of students. In particular, the questionnaire contained the following questions: “Do you watch military-themed films with your child, do you listen to songs of the war years?”, “Do you talk to your child about moral and patriotic themes?” etc.
The Eastern Human Rights Group is convinced that such programs are being developed and concluded in the Kremlin and that the authorities of the occupied territories of Donbas are only directly implementing them.
Instead of an afterword. About security…
Violations of labor legislation and non-compliance with safety rules at the enterprises of the occupied territories are evident.
On June 7, it became known that in just one day, two mines located in the occupied territories had an emergency.
At the Kholodna Balka mine (Makiivka) one miner died and another was injured as a result of the rock collapse. A miner was injured at the Komsomolets Donbas mine (Kirovske) under similar circumstances.