Yuriy Vyshnevskyy
Humanitarian aspects of ORDLO (separate DISTRICTS of Donetsk and Luhansk regions) existence
Changes in school education
The situation in schools in the occupied territories is characterized by three factors: rapid decrease in the number of students, ideological violence over pupils and total control over teachers.
On September 1, 2017 in the occupied part of Donetsk region 111 schools did not start their work. As the occupational authorities explain, these schools 'are located close to the demarcation line or are not restored yet'.
But even in the schools that started their work there can be traced lack of students. Information coming from different places shows this. In particular, in schools of Donetsk out of four parallel classes only one has been left.
The gorlovka.ua news outlet has shared the information on how the new academic year started in the best school of Horlivka – comprehensive school No. 1. By 2014 it had been overcrowded, pupils studied in two shifts, since there was no possibility to have all the children within one shift. The school had been considered to be very good, and boys and girls from the whole town had studied there. And now they have only one first grade consisting of 18 children.
It is clear that over four years the number of school-age children could not reduce that much due to natural factors like birth rate fall. The main reason for the reduction of the number of pupils is that a considerable part of young families with children have left the occupied territories.
It does not mean, however, that the children staying there and their parents are mostly positive in their attitude to the occupation authorities. Therefore, the occupationists have made schools become a tool for ideological work with children.
As gorlovka.ua shows, now all the textbooks in the schools of Horlivka are the textbooks printed by Moscow publishing houses (except for textbooks of the Ukrainian language). The years of publication are 2015 and 2016. Such situation with textbooks can be mostly probably found not only in Horlivka, but in other occupied towns. It has been informed many times that the textbooks were brought from the RF by the so-called 'humanitarian convoys'. For example, in late August 2017 the self-proclaimed 'Ministry of Emergencies of the LPR' informed that a regular 'humanitarian convoy' from the RF has brought different freight to Luhansk, including 297 tons of Russian textbooks.
The system of education in the occupied territories is gradually getting back from the Ukrainian standards to the former Soviet and the current Russian ones. In particular, the self-proclaimed 'Ministry of Education of the DPR' claims the allegedly poor level of education of children in Ukraine and considers the education provided to students in Soviet schools to be a sample to follow. At the same time, it propagates pro-Russian upbringing of the growing generation, borrows the experience of the modern Russian school and supplements the school curriculum with its own developments. Ukrainian subjects taught to Ukrainian students in the pre-war period are replaced with new ones.
Instead of the subject 'History of Ukraine' which is no longer taught in the schools of the occupied towns, schoolchildren of the 7th–9th grades study 'History of Motherland'. This new subjects combines the history of the Russian state and the history of the native land – Donbas. Similarly, students of the 10th–11th grades study 'History of Motherland' of the XXth–XXIst centuries. This course lays out the Soviet period and the role of Russia in the modern world in a positive way, and the development of Donbas in the period after Ukraine gained independence – in a negative way. The recent history of Ukraine, the Euromaidan, Crimean annexation by Russia, proclamation of 'people's republics' and Russian intervention in the east of Ukraine in 2014 are all interpreted solely from the Kremlin's point of view.
Generally, both school education, and non-school 'system of upbringing' in the occupied territories is subordinated to one goal: to convince local children that there is 'the people of Donbas', which is an element of 'Russkiy Mir', and not the Ukrainian people
Also, the general curriculum of local schools no longer contains 'Geography of Ukraine' as a separate subject for the 8th–9th grades. Instead, the curriculum contains such subjects as 'Physical Geography of the Native Land' and 'Social and Economic Geography of the Native Land'. Schoolchildren study natural resources, economy, industry, power energy, agriculture of Donetsk region in a very detailed way, get acquainted with its location in the map of the world. Children get a rather narrow knowledge about the region they live in, and learn nothing about other Ukrainian regions.
The school curriculum of the occupied part of Donetsk region now contains new obligatory subjects 'The Lessons of Citizenship in Donbas' for the 1st–11th grades and 'Elementary Military and Medical-Sanitation Training' for the 10th–11th grades. At the lessons of 'civicism' schoolchildren are brought up are patriots of the so-called 'Donetsk People's Republic', they are told that Donbas is allegedly a part of the 'Russian world' ('Russkiy Mir'). As it is written in the curriculum, teachers 'bring up civicism and moral culture of students based on the views and ideology of the DPR'. During classes in military training senior school students have firearms and march drilling, they study the basics of civil defense. Also, at those classes teenagers are told about the activities of the so-called 'Armed Forces of the DPR', hiding away the involvement of the RF's citizens in their commanding and military staff.
At the same time, educational curriculum of comprehensive schools in the occupied territories in fact no longer contains the Ukrainian language and literature. Though officially those subjects are in the school curriculum, in practice the number of hours allocated for them has been significantly reduced.
In particular, in the schools in the occupied part of Donetsk region some 5 hours a week are allocated in the 5th–6th grades, and 4–3 hours – in the 7th–8th grades for the study of the Russian language. And for studies of the Ukrainian language schoolchildren are given only half an hour a week and as much for the Ukrainian literature.
And according to the 'standards of republican education', in elementary school grades the subject 'Ukrainian Language' has been renamed into the 'Language of the Peoples of Donbas'. And 'Ukrainian Literature' is now called 'Literary Readings of the Peoples of Donbas'. Such changes in the school curriculum were introduced back in early 2015. In the senior grades the titles of subject 'Ukrainian Language' and 'Ukrainian Literature' have not been changed.
The 'Ministry of Education of the DPR' did not just invent their own subject for studying Ukrainian in elementary school, but in 2016 it created its own textbook of the Ukrainian language and literature for the children of the 1st–5th grades. The new textbook has absolutely no Ukrainian symbols: flag, state emblem, anthem. There are some symbols of the fictitious 'republic' instead': a two-headed eagle and a three-coloured 'flag'.
Besides, the new 'system of republican education' in schools no longer includes the Ukrainian language as a subject with a mandatory exam for students of the 9th and 11th grades. 'The Ministry of Education of the DPR' explained that it had monitored the situation in order to find out whether there had been any volunteers to take the school exam in the Ukrainian language, but no such volunteers have been found therefore Ukrainian has been removed from the list of mandatory exams.
Instead the Russian language has become a mandatory subject for the 'final state attestation'. Ninth-graders write a mandatory exam dictation in Russian, and eleventh-graders take an exam in Russian in the form of written retelling accompanied with a creative assignment.
It should be noted that a considerable share of teachers in the occupied territories do support those innovations. In all the years of Ukraine's independence teaching staff in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were controlled by the local authorities, which normally could be characterized by their pro-Russian vector. Schools traditionally are the place of location of polling stations, and teachers used to be members of election commissions. In May 2014 many teachers participated in the organization of fictitious 'referenda' for the establishment of 'people's republics'.
But even in spite of the loyalty of teaching staff to the occupation authorities, total control over teachers is exercised in the occupied territories. That forces them to resort to self-censorship.
Examples can be found in the report by the OSCE's SMM as of September 1, 2017. 'Before the academic year, – the report states, – in one of the schools in a non-government controlled district the observers had a talk with a teacher who expressed his concern about the presence of tanks near the kindergarten, but one of his colleagues stopped him saying that in order to provide a more detailed information teachers must get a permission from their head'. And in the village of Metalist (7 km to the north west from Luhansk) in the occupied part of Luhansk region the teacher of one of the schools informed the observers that she was not allowed to communicate with the Mission's observers', – the report states.
'The system of upbringing'
On August 31, 2017 in the occupied part of Donetsk region there was held a campaign to commemorate the memory of children who perished in the war. At 00:00 p.m. bells rang in schools for those who would not go to school ever. Before that, in September 2015 a monument to the perished children of Donbas had been erected in Donetsk. In June 2017 the monument to the perished children was opened in Luhansk.
All those measures are taken by the occupation authorities and the Russian TV propagandists for inciting hatred towards Ukraine among local residents. Local residents know though that the perished children include victims of shooting conducted by the occupationists. But besides the events were aimed at inciting teenagers to participate in the war.
From the very start of the Russian aggression occupationists and collaborators tried to take teenagers into their army. In October 2014 Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed 'Head of the DPR' stated that 14-year-old soldiers were fighting under his command. The OSCE's SMM in its report of May 28, 2015 recorded at the block-post of separatists in the suburbs of Makiyivka a camouflaged teenager 12–14 years of age with the Kalashnikov gun. On June 9, 2015 the SMM's observers saw armed guys who 'seemed to be minors' at the block-post near the village of Shyrokine (to the east from Mariupol).
Due to mass desertion and discharge of rebels from the occupation army the occupation authorities have been paying a great attention to ensuring replenishment of the army with teenagers. Besides that, children are used as whistleblowers and as a live shield.
In the occupied territories of Donbas many 'volunteering battalions', 'cadet corps', 'military and patriotic camps' are made of children, and boys and girls aged 10-17 are there. Children in these organizations study the history of Russia as interpreted by the orthodox chauvinists, types of firing arms, rules of battle and intelligence in the rear. Students of those institutions after a certain training period can shoot, get aquainted with explosives and know how to mine a parked car.
Some of those teenagers have not only trainings, but real battles behind them. In November 2015 Deutsche Welle radio informed that the 'Luhansk cadet corps' informed, while answering to the DW's correspondent's question whether they have cadets with military experience, that 'Surely, yes. These are 10th-11th graders'.
In ordinary schools, as it has already been noted, teenagers also undergo similar 'upbringing' at their classes of elementary military training and 'citizenship'. Listening there to stories about the 'heroes of Novorosiya' and their 'deeds', some children rush to the front – and perish there on mine fields or experience violence from adult terrorists.
Other consequences of this 'system of upbringing' are rapid rise in child crimes, vagabondism and beggary. Local newspapers and transport stops are full of announcements about minors on the wanted list.
Generally, both school education, and non-school 'system of upbringing' in the occupied territories is subordinated to one goal: to convince local children that there is 'the people of Donbas', which is an element of 'Russkiy Mir', and not the Ukrainian people, and that in 2014 the Ukrainian people launched a war against 'the people of Donbas'. Therefore, one should realize that after complete de-occupation of Donbas the main problem in local schools will be that children there will have poor (if any) knowledge of the Ukrainian language, literature, history, geography, and that children have for several years been taught to hate Ukraine – hate for the war, destroyed buildings, suspended mines, poor families, of which the children were witnesses. And the priority should be to tell in a convincing way and to explain the children the truth about the Russian occupation. But majority of current local teachers and 'educator's are most probably incapable and will be unwilling to perform the task.
Changes in the church life
In the religious field the monopoly situation in the occupied territories has gone over to the Russian orthodox church represented by its structural unit of the Ukrainian orthodox church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP). On their side, the hierarchs of the UOC MP have supported the occupationists and collaborators many a time.
In July 2014 the head of the information and publishing administration of the Ukrainian orthodox church of Kyiv Partiarchate (UOC KP) archibishop Yevstratiy (Zorya) published a photo evidence of how a priest of the UOC MP was blessing Russian terrorist Igor Girkin, the head of the Russian diversion group in Slovyansk, Donetsk region, and the 'Minister of Defense of the DPR' as he called himself in the period of May-August 2014. That same year in September the rector of the Saint-Nikol monastery, priest Nykon, blessed 'the occupational police of the DPR' in Donetsk for 'military deeds', and in November metropolitan Ioannykiy (Kobzyev) participated in the inauguration of the self-proclaimed 'head of the LPR' Igor Plotnytskyy.
In the churches of the UOC MP in Donetsk and Luhansk regions there regularly could be heard the sermons with anti-Ukrainian content. In July 2014 reporter Roman Bochkala told about the brightest impression of his acquaintance – a service man – in the village of Dmytivka, Novoaydar district, Luhansk region: 'The main local separatist is the village priest of Moscow patriarchate. He sends young people to fight against Ukraine'.
At the same time, in the occupied territories the occupationists pressed or even banned the activity of other confessions, humiliating their priests and sometimes even killing them. In mid-July 2014 senior bishop of the Church of Christians of the Evangelic Church of Ukraine Mykhaylo Panochko said: 'It has become known from our brothers in Donetsk region that two deacons of the Church of Christians of the Evangelic Church 'The Holy Transfiguration of Christ' have been killed by the separatists, as well as two sons of the pastor of that church Oleksandr Pavenko'.
According to Panochko's information, the so-called 'rebels of the DPR' broke into the premises of the Church 'The Holy Transfiguration of Christ' after a liturgy on June 8, on the Holy Trinity Day, and stated that they would arrest deacons Volodymyr Velychko and Viktor Bradarskyy as well as two adult sons of the senior pastor – Ruvym and Albert Pavenko (the very Oleksandr Pavenko was already not in the premises then – together with his younger children he had managed to leave the town). The terrorists accused those arrested of a 'crime against the DPR', viz. support of the Ukrainian army.
For more than a month the families of priests were anxiously waiting for those captured to be released from captivity. Volodymyr Velychko had a wife and eight children waiting at home, Viktor Bradarskyy – a family with three children. One of the Pavenko brothers was not yet married, the other one had a wife.
As it turned out, all the four arrested guys were tortured and deprived of life the very next day – June 9. According to the testimony of one of the deputy prosecutors of Slovyansk who managed to escape from the terrorists' captivity, he heard cries of the Pavenko brothers who were tortured during the interrogation. On July 14, already after liberation of Slovyansk, the bodies of the perished were found in one of the fraternal graves, together with two more dozens of other people who had been killed.
Serhiy Kosyak, pastor of the Donetsk church 'The Assembly of God' shared some information about his stay in the terrorists' captivity. In February 2014 an inter-confessional prayer marathon in the centre of Donetsk started. A tent of yellow and blue colours with the inscription 'We are praying for peace, love and integrity of Ukraine' was placed there, and people gathered there on a daily basis for a prayer. 'Then, – the pastor recalls, – the rebels occupied the buildings of the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), Donetsk Regional State Administration and other state institutions. At that time all visible pro-Ukrainian sympathies had already for long been suppressed in the city, only we were left. On May 24 the rebels approached us, took the activists who were on duty there at gun-points, destroyed the tent and threw the remnants into Kalmius. 'After that the terrorists threatened to shoot them all in case they gather for a prayer once again', – the pastor said.
He himself has experienced eight hours of uninterrupted tortures in the headquarters of terrorists in the occupied building of the Donetsk Regional State Administration. In the words of the victim, he was saved because a commander of rebels who used to be the parishioner of that very church entered the room where he was being interrogated. After that the pastor was taken to hospital where 'all those torn elements were sewn.
On leaving Donetsk pastor Serhiy Kosyak maintained contacts with the churches of Evangelic Christians in the occupied territories. Later he made the list of buildings that had been taken away and the liturgies broken up over May-September 2014.
May. 'The Church of Christ' in Horlivka: the church building was taken away, all the property was removed, office equipment was taken away, and the building now is the office of the DPR. The church 'The City of Faith' in Snizhne: the liturgy was broken up, the building was sealed off. The rehabilitation centre 'The Evening Light' in Donetsk: 20 people were taken captive, some of them were beaten, the building was sealed off and their minivan was seized.
June. The church "The Word of Life' in Torez (currently – Chystyakove): the rebels with chevrons 'The Cossack Guard' broke up the liturgy, sealed off the building, threatened to shoot everybody in case they gather once again. The rehabilitation centre 'The Rescue Rock' in Donetsk: the building was taken away, and a barrack was made of it, soldiers were placed in it. The Donetsk Christian University in Donetsk: the whole complex occupied in full, several hundreds of rebels placed there. In Horlivka on June 15 armed rebels destroyed the premises of the office of the 'New Generation' church, taking computers out of there, other office equipment, statutory documents of the church's charity funds, and on June 16 the building of the 'Word of Life' church was occupied. In Shakhtarsk armed rebels took the temple of 'The Word of Life' church and took the pastor of the church Mykola Kalinichenko captive, he was further released but his car was seized. Also, the terrorists told the pastor that if he kept on carrying out religious activity he would be shot. Later mass media informed that the building of the church was used by the rebels for keeping men aged 20-40 for the sake of their compulsory enlistment in their army. In Druzhkivka on June 26 the rebels broke into the premises of the 'Church of Winners', took the money, documents from the safe, office computer and took pastor Pavlo Lesko with his wife to their headquarters. For almost a week they were held captive in different cells under the accusation of cooperation with Americans and assisting people displaced from Donbas.
August. 'The Word of Life' centre in Donetsk: the liturgy was broken up and the whole church complex was taken away. Also, in Olenivka the liturgy was broken up, the building of the church along with the pastor's building were seized.
September. 'The Church of Christ the Saviour' in Donetsk: the building of the church and the priest's car were seized, the liturgy was broken up and any assembly was banned. The church 'The Word of Life' in Rovenky in Luhansk region: the building was taken away, the liturgy was broken up.
'And also tens of arrested, murdered servants and pastors of churches', – stressed pastor Serhiy Kosyak at the end of his speech. It should be added that in his absence in the church 'The Assembly of God' in Donetsk Oleksandr Khomchenko was conducting prayers. In the evening of August 8, right after the prayer he was arrested, and released only on August 13. 'He was beaten following all the rules of torturing, and then his sentence was announced – five days of arrest and compulsory work for an illegal religious rally in a public place', – informed pastor Serhiy Kosyak.
On October 14 it became known that assistant pastor of the church 'The Good News' Serhiy Saykov and his 14-year-old son Danylo were taken captive in Krasnodon, Luhansk region. They were released after four days of awful interrogations, related to suspicions of spying for the Ukrainian army. After that the family was forced to leave Luhansk region for Western Ukraine.
Similar repressions over 2014 were applied to the representatives of many confessions. Evangelical Christians-Baptists informed that as of September 23 the buildings of three their churches in Luhansk region – in Antratsyt, Krasnyy Luch (now – Khrustalnyy) and Luhansk were occupied, and in Donetsk the building of the 'Vifaniya' church and the church community of the Brotherhood of Independent Churches and Missions of the Evangelical Christian-Baptists were occupied.
On September 27 in Horlivka gun-armed rebels broke into the prayer house of the seventh-Day Adventist Church right during the Holy Communion. They stopped the liturgy and made people go away. The attackers motivated their actions with the claims that 'this is an orthodox land, and there is no place for different sects in it'. Pastor Serhiy Lytovchenko was ordered to close the church premises, they made him get into the rebels' car and took him to an unknown place. The pastor spent 20 days in captivity.
One of the organizers of the inter-confessional prayer marathon in Donetsk was the priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), the secretary of the inter-confessional Council of the Churches and Religious Organizations of Donetsk region father Tykhon (Serhiy Kulbaka). He was kidnapped on July 3, and before that numerous threats arrived in his house, in particular, the offenders painted his car with threats and images with the Nazi symbols.
Father Tykhon was released on July 14 only, but his health had become much worse. He himself informed about that: 'Glory to You, our God, glory to you!!! My dear friends, I am free. Not healthy. There will be no answers to the questions 'who, where and when'. The life, health and safety of the third persons depend on this. My earthly bow and gratitude till the end of my days to all those who did not sleep at nights, conducted negotiations, prayed or just worried for me. I believe and I know that this is what saved my life. Now I am in for treatment, but I am with you with all my heart and soul. I love you all!'
On August 15 the UGCG informed that the terrorists had taken the monastery of All the Saints of the Ukrainian People founded in Donetsk by the community of Sisters-Servants of the Holy Virgin Mary. By that moment nuns had not stayed at the monastery any longer. They had left it for security reasons at the request of the exarch of Donetsk UGCC bishop Stepan (Menko).
On May 15 the Kyiv Patriarchate in a special declaration informed about the availability of 'numerous facts of threats to the life and health of clergy and believers of the UOC KP, creation of obstacles on the way of the Church in the eastern regions of Ukraine by Russia-controlled and encouraged terrorist and separatist forces'. The declaration states that armed persons broke into the churches of the UOC KP with the demand set to priests to immediately become subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate, the terrorists 'announced death sentences' to the priests of the Kyiv Patriarchate, which in the current conditions poses a real threat to the life of clergy and believers of the UOC KP in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
On July 3 the rector of the UOC KP patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) stated that in Luhansk region liturgies are 'in fact no longer served in our churches since separatists-terrorists prohibit them'. He also stated that armed people threatened to shoot the bishop of Luhansk and Starobilsk of UOC KP Afanasiy (Yavorskyy). Later the rebels made the bishop leave Luhansk region, at the same time damaging the breaks of his car, most probably thus hoping to cause his death.
On July 8 priest of the UOC KP Yuriy Ivanov was taken captive. The terrorists kidnapped him from close to the house where he lived. He was a servant of the Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin in Petrovskyy district of Donetsk. Only on July 30 the priest was liberated and taken to a safe place.
On July 15 priest of the Roman-Catholic Church Viktor Vonsovych, rector of the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in Horlivka was taken captive. He was released only ten days later. The rebels warned the priest: if he came back to Horlivka, he would be shot.
The current situation with freedom of conscience
This list is incomplete, but the facts cited are enough to make conclusions about the environment in the religious life in the occupied territories. And this environment has been there for the last three years. No freedom of conscience in such conditions can ever be possible.
The eparchies of UOC MP live and thrive, since they service the occupationists. For example, in October 2015 it became known that the commanders of the so-called '5th separate motor rifle brigade of the DPR addressed father Andriy (Manych), rector of the church of Saint New Martyrs of UOC MP with the request to become their chaplain and to organize a chapel in the territory of their military unit in Makiyivka. Father Andriy agreed and got the blessing of metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Ilarion (Shukala) to that.
At the same time, all the other Christian churches are intimidated and made to keep silent. Their priests normally resort to self-censorship in their sermons in order not to make the occupational authorities angry. But the occupationists still resort to repressions from time to time in order to maintain the atmosphere of fear. For example, in September 2015 in Sverdlovsk (now – Dovzhansk) in Luhansk region the pastor of the local church of Christians of the Evangelical Faith Taras Sen was kidnapped. He had to stay in captivity for four days.
And in January 2016 in Donetsk Ihor Kozlovskyy , President of the Centre for Religious Studies and International Spiritual Relations, who had participated in the inter-confessional prayer marathon in 2014, was arrested. He was accused of contacts with the 'organizations prohibited in the DPR'. On May 3, 2017 the self-proclaimed 'military tribunal of the DPR' passed a sentence for the Ukrainian religion studies scholar: two years and eights months of imprisonment. According to the information provided by his relatives, now Ihor Kozlovskyy is kept in Mykytivka penitentiary facility No. 87 in Horlivka, to which he was transferred from the Donetsk pre-trial detention facility.
Also, in the occupied territories 'anti-sect' moods are fomented. In May 2015 Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed 'head of the DPR' promised 'to severely fight against sects', and Ihor Plotnytskyy, his Luhansk 'colleague' ordered in March 2016 'to take religious sects under special control'.
In the occupied territories, the monopoly of the UOC-MP is strengthening, and the eparchies have become part of the ideological and propagandistic machine of the occupation regime
A new explosion of the 'anti-sect' hysterics occurred in the occupied territories after the Supreme Court of the RF on July 17, 2017 finally liquidated and banned the organization 'The Administrative Centre of the Jehovah Witnesses in Russia'. Already on July 28 the self-proclaimed 'Supreme Court of the DPR' informed that it 'had passed a decision to acknowledge printed materials issued by the 'Jehovah Witnesses' sect to be extremist and banned their publication in the territory of the DPR'.
Also, in Luhansk the occupationists decided to do away with this organization. On August 28 the self-proclaimed 'Ministry of State Security of the LPR' informed that by its effort it 'stopped the activity of the unregistered religious organization 'Jehovah Witnesses', working for the SBU and neo-Nazi groups'. The results of searches in the premises of the 'Jehovah Witnesses' in Luhansk and Alchevsk were mentioned as the grounds for this.
One may expect further aggravation of the activity of many confessions in the occupied territories, certainly, but for UOC MP. On August 22 in the self-proclaimed 'People's Council of the DPR' there took place a meeting of the 'committee for civil society development in the matters of civil and religious associations', with the participation of the representatives of the 'ministries of the DPR', where Oleksandr Malkov, the head of the 'committee' suggested developing a departmental procedure of holding inspections of the religious organizations' activities. 'Inspections of religious organizations must be conducted in order to prevent criminal or any other destructive activity' disguised under religious activity', – said Malkov. It is informed that the participants of the meeting discussed the 'types and frequency of holding inspection raids'. Therefore, such raids may start soon.
Consequently, in the occupied territories, the monopoly of the UOC-MP is strengthening, and the eparchies have become part of the ideological and propagandistic machine of the occupation regime. And more and more obstacles are made for all other Christian denominations there, their hierarchs and pastors are under constant threat of repression. Meanwhile, the struggle against the «schismatics» and «sects" that is, the UOC-KPI Protestant churches, became part of the official ideology of the occupation authorities. In fact, the UOC-MP and the occupation regime are engaged in mutual servicing. Consequently, if the Ukrainian control is restored all over the Donbas, this de-occupation will be illusory if the UOC-MP maintains a monopoly, and all the hierarchs serving the occupants will continue planting the «Russian world» in local residents' minds.
Personal security of residents
The eastern regions have always been distinguished by a high level of crimes in them, in particular, organized crime. After the Russian intervention the residents of the occupied territories have been left with absolutely no guarantees of their personal safety. Criminogenic situation has deteriorated drastically as the result of two factors. First, local residents will be terrorized by the representatives of the occupational regime – both 'military', and 'civil'. Anybody may have their business 'squeezed off' (taken by force), their house, apartment, cars seized, etc. Those trying to resist are either shot or incarcerated in a vault, and tortured there until they sign 'gift deeds'. Secondly, a lot of rebels leave their 'service' in the occupation authorities taking weapons and ammunition with them, and kill, rob, carjack, rape, etc.
Though such facts are concealed and hushed away by the occupation authorities, but still some of them come to the surface. Here are some recent examples from the life of the occupied part of Luhansk region and, in particular, the town of Dovzhansk (former Sverdlovsk). The participants of the Internet community 'Sverdlovsk – you should know it', created in the social medium 'vkontakte', have told about this.
On September 4: 'financial police of the LPR' started its affair with 'Khlib Ukrayiny' Ltd. located in Dovzhansk. This company has got a great capacity for storage and processing of agricultural output. Plotnytskyy's people decided to seize this profitable business, one of a few left in the occupied part of the region. 'As it is know, it is much more profitable to store grain and seeds than to grow it. The business is rather good as for now. Thus, the company got into the focus of attention of disguised gangsters. The head of the company was threatened many a time and got unambiguous offers relating to the sales of the company at a ridiculous price. The instruction to 'squeeze away' the company came to the 'LPR's tax officers directly from Plotnytskyy, – inform the participants of the Internet community. – Plotnytskyy and his jackals got envious that the company was bringing profit to somebody. They wanted to take it all away. And here is the name 'Khlib Ukrayiny' Ltd., almost a sign of terrorism and extremism'.
On August 31: 'The Ministry of Interior of the LPR' detained a part of the gang which had been terrorizing the residents of Sverdlovsk and Rovenky districts for two years. Three members of the gang, including its leader Serhiy Slyvka, are still in hiding. The gangsters have killed the family of the 'traffic police officer' Kovalenko in Rovenky, had committed armed assaults in four other inhabited settlements. 'We have been writing about all those high-profile crimes in our group. The villains have taken everything: money, cars, weapons and most precious – human life, – the statement says. – They were all related by family ties – brothers, brothers-in-law, husband's brothers, sisters, therefore the level of conspiracy and trust inside the band was rather high, which made their search much more complicated. Half of the gangsters participated in different periods in the 'people's liberation movement in Donbas'. They had quickly understood that among rebels they could get only a shot and 'unwithering glory', therefore the gangsters, taking the weapons, started attacking their compatriots with a high level of wellbeing'. Murder of the family of the former head of the traffic police of Rovenky Serhiy Kovalenko, who was on the side of the occupationists, was committed in 2016. The spouses were murdered in their own house. The husband was shot, and his wife was sunk in the bathroom. Before death the woman was tortured much. The gangsters took golden and silver jewelry from the house of those murdered, two fur-coats, 10 thousand dollars and 60 thousand rubles, a Volkswagen Tiguan car, a gun and a fowling piece.
July 17: found spouses killed by the 'people's militia' (PM). 'In dacha cottages in the village of Rayivka located directly on the demarcation line close to the river of Siverskyy Donets the service men of the PM of the LPR coming for rotation found the corpses of the Tykhomyrovs. The family had been shot, which fact was proven by bullet wounds. I assume that the family has been murdered by the killers among the service men of the PM of the LPR', – the statement reads. A different version was suggested by the occupation authorities. According to the data of 'Slovyanoserbskyy RDIA of the MIA of the LPR', the man and the woman died on July 15 since they 'were killed in a tripwire blast'.
July 4: 'police men', while conducting 'Anti-terror' operation traced in the residence of a 48-year-old Luhansk resident Oleksand Romaneskul two guns, ammunition and a Skoda-Fabia car, which was registered as stolen since 2014. The comment of the Internet community indicates: 'It is a noticeable fact that 'Anti-terror' operation planned by the 'MIA of the LPR' for the sake of preventing the threat from the so called diversion and intelligence groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, yields absolutely opposite results. 99.9% of the people detained during the operation are current and former rebels of the PM of the LPR. Thus, the 'MIA of the LPR' with its work shows who poses a terrorist threat for peaceful residents'.
July 3: a body of the dead taxi driver with gun wounds in the head, right shoulder, upper and lower extremities was found close to the cemetery in the village of Heorhiyivka, Lutuhyn district. Later his car was found burnt in the territory of the former airport of Luhansk. 'The last time witnesses saw him they saw two men in military uniforms sitting in his car. The number of bullet wounds in the victim's body shows how cruel those guys where murdering him', – the notice says.
Many similar stories have been narrated by the participants of the Internet community 'Sverdlovsk – you should know it'. For the completeness of understanding let us take one more story narrated on May 29. Valeriy Hryhorenko, a 51-year-old resident of Krasnodon, a man with previous criminal record, organized a prison for girls, whom he brought to his apartment using violence. For almost a week an 11th-grader of secondary school No. 9 of Krasnodon stayed in such captivity. 'A student of the Mining College of Krasnodon was even less lucky. This spider kidnapped her back on April 26. Since then the girl had been announced missing. For the whole month she was kept by this villain by violent methods. Her relatives already lost any hope to see her alive', – a statement says. A whole range of weapons was found in his apartment-prison: a machine-gun, a gun, half a thousand bullets of different calibers, a grenade launcher, 18 bombshells and many other things. In 2014 Hryhorenko actively advocated the 'Russian World' among rebels, and it was where he had brought weapons and ammunition home from.
The current criminogenic situation in the occupied territories may be characterized as double dictatorship of the criminal: first, the very current authorities of the DPR and the LPR are criminals, secondly, criminals have got enough weapons and ammunition to terrorize local residents. In case of de-occupation of Donbas both of the criminal components will try to preserve their standpoints and will use the election in ORDLO to get to the new local self-government authorities, police, etc. Therefore, it would be a great mistake to pay attention to the first of the two threats only and to leave the second one unnoticed. Transition will be the most dangerous stage: in case any 'power vacuum' appears in that period, it can be filled in by armed criminals having their own leaders with their power.
Control over the media domain
In the occupied territories of Donbas there is almost no TV company and no printed edition non-loyal to the occupation authorities. The only media domain segment which is not fully controlled is the Internet. But the Russian security services are now dealing with the problem.
On August 9 the page of the community 'Sverdlovsk – you should know it', which we quoted above, stopped being updated. On August 23 on the Internet there was disseminated information saying that 'the Ministry of State Security of the LPR' identified the administrator of the group and 'threw him into the vault'. At the end of August on the page of the group there started appearing new materials again. As before, people writing there kept telling about the real situation in the occupied territories, crimes of the 'protectors of the people of Donbas' against peaceful residents, arbitrary will of the occupation authorities, thefts in Donbas companies made by the occupationists, mass dismissals of miners, residents' poverty, etc. But who the administrator of the group now is still remains his secret.
Russian special forces detect not only those acting in 'vkontakte' network. In November the 'Ministry of State Security of the LPR' detained Luhansk blogger Eduard Nedyelyayev, who had accounts in Twitter and Facebook under the nickname Edward Ned. On July 28, 2017 the 'military tribunal of the LPR' sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment for 'state treason'. Maksym Kozlov, the representative of the 'LPR's prosecutor's office', explained such a terrible sentence by the fact that the blogger 'had been spreading negative information about the residents of the LPR' on the Internet and 'handing the data that could be to the detriment of our state over to the representatives of foreign intelligence service'.
Stanislav Asyeyev, a journalist who prepared reports about the life of Donetsk for 'Donbas. Realia' ('Radio Svoboda' program) and other editions under the nickname Stanislav Vasin, had his account in Facebook. Ukrainian editorial board of 'Radio Svoboda' informed that it had had no contacts with him since June 2, 2017. On that day he spoke with his family on the phone, informing that he was coming to Donetsk and would visit his relatives the following day, but he never came. The relatives traced obvious signs of search in his apartment.
The representatives of the occupation authorities at first denied Asyeyev's detention by the 'Ministry of State Security of the DPR', and on July 14 they announced Asyeyev was on the wanted list as seemingly missing, but on July 16 they stated that Asyeyev was in Donetsk behind the bars. A number of international journalist and human rights organizations demanded to immediately release Stanislav Asyeyev.
On July 28 the OSCE's press service published a statement of the OSCE's representative on freedom of the media Arlem Dezir: 'I am urging all those who have something to do with it to immediately release Stanislav Asyeyev. Journalists and other mass media staff must be free to express their views and do their job with no obstructions on their way'.
On August 1, Oleh Kotenko, the group for release of military prisoners 'Patriot' coordinator, said in 'Donbas. Realia' that three weeks before the group had received information about serious beating of Asyeyev and doctor being called to him. On August 30 in 'Donbas. Realia' information was placed that Asyeyev has recently had chronic lung disease, his mom was allowed to see him, he was recovering and it was expected that the journalist would be sentenced in the nearest future for 'spying'.
All these repressions show that the occupation authorities are trying to completely clean the the DPR and the LPR information space of any objective information and pro-Ukrainian influences. At the same time, the Russian TV propaganda and local mass media controlled by the occupationists are trying to evoke with the residents of the occupied territories as deep hatred for Ukraine and Ukrainians as possible, for it to be transferred from generation to generation. The same is the task of school and non-school 'system of upbringing'. The Kremlin hopes that after the restoration of the Ukrainian control over those territories, local residents will be extremely hostile to the Ukrainian authorities, and children will be dreaming of revenge.
By the way, the Kremlin also hopes for reserve hatred for the residents of Donbas on behalf of many residents of other Ukrainian regions. Therefore, one should realize that everybody repeating the statement of the Russian propaganda about the 'civil war' in Ukraine or speaking about the 'war of Ukrainians against separatists', pretending there has been no Russian intervention and occupation, – thus foments interregional enmity.
It is most probably more difficult to 'unmine' the minds of adults and children than to unmine mine fields and mined buildings. Besides that, even after complete de-occupation of Donbas anti-Ukrainian propaganda will not disappear, it will be maintained both by Russia, and from the inside – by the 'Russian World' supporters. One needs to deal with overcoming of the consequences of that propaganda just now, and that must be the main priority of the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine.
The state of the humanitarian field of the occupied part of the Donbas is no less catastrophic than the economic situation. The biggest problem is the constant brainwashing of the population through Russian and local mass media, the UOC-MP churches, and in children case - through the school and out-of-school «education system». Every year of occupation sees increase in the cleansing effect.
Solving the problem is going to take much time. Taking a significant part of necessary measures is possible only in de-occupation course, but some of them should be taken immediately. Thus, it is necessary to facilitate the occupied territories population access to objective information about events in those territories.
Beyond any doubt, it is also necessary to ensure that those on the opposite side of the front line get reliable information (not twisted by the hostile propaganda) on official Kyiv stance, the reforms carried out by the Ukrainian authorities, and other events in the territories under the governmental control. But at least half information campaigns Ukraine organizes for the occupied territories residents should focus on events takking place exactly in their cities and districts.
In the meantime, special attention should be paid to the criminal news. In general, it is one of the most popular topics in any society. People's perception of Kyiv and their attitude to Ukraine can be negative, but regardless of it they are interested in and worried about the crimes commited next to their homes.
One can find lots of sources of socially important messages in social networks. In particular, concerning terror methods practiced by both «military» and «civil» representatives of the occupation regime treating the local population. About how people are deprived of their business, dwellings, etc. Or about the former militants who have left the «service» with the occupation forces, taken weapons and ammunition, and are now engaged in assassinations, robberies, car theft, rape, and the like. By the way, stories like those are worth attention of all-Ukrainian audience as well. After all, the «Russian world» sympathizers live outside the Donbass as well.
Other stories from the occupied territories' life are also worth attention. For example, now locals there are very concerned about their wages suspensions, enterprises closures, and surging unemployment. Inaccessibility of healthcare services, half-empty schools, and poor-quality food from Russia are widespread and everyday issues. All these facts prove that Russia has come to the Donbas to destroy it. And it is to be told every day to both local and national audiences, as well as to the world.
Meanwhile, preparing urgent measures for the de-occupation period is also necessary. First of all, it is vital to significantly reduce the impact of collaborators and the «Russian world» supporters in local media, schools and out-of-school institutions as well as religious ones. Experience of Mariupol, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Lisichansk, Severodonetsk and other cities and towns liberated from the Russian proxies, indicates it is not an easy task. But still, it can be solved gradually.
Ukraine is to start training pedagogical staff for the Donbas and involve patriotically-minded youth from liberated regions. This training should include a thorough course of psychology, since one teaching children who survived several years of occupation must be not just a teacher, but also a psychotherapist.
Another problem is the textbooks for this category of students. It would be a great mistake to avoid mentioning the war at all. But asserting or hinting or implying the guilt of local residents would be even bigger mistake. Creating a guilt complex is wrong. Children need to know that the Russian invaders and pro-Russian propagandists are guilty of waging war, and the rest are their victims.
There is also a need for a plan of action regarding those UOC-MP priests who have collaborated closely and willingly with the occupants. Perhaps the best way would be making these «holy fathers» leave the Ukrainian territory together with the occupation troops. But the motivation creation is a task for the competent authorities that deal with the Kremlin's agents and their psychology.
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