After the elimination of the leader of the Donetsk terrorists Oleksandr Zakharchenko and the escape of his immediate region neighbors from Donbas, a new stage of property redistribution has begun. Russian special services compete for sphere of influence in the occupied territories, and each conflict situation is solved in the high offices of the Kremlin.
What kind of criminal schemes Russia has built, how "defenders" plunder the Ukrainian subsoil and why terrorists scare the local population with chemical weapons,- the Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine VADYM CHERNYSH told in the interview with "Apostrophe".
- How does the shadow economy of the occupied territories of Donbas look like now? How do they make money?
- By this time, Russia supports the temporarily occupied part of Donbas with the federal budget. They would not exist without Russian support. This proves once again that these are artificially created surrogates, which are held not only due to military but also to socio-economic assistance, so that the civilian population receives something at least a bit, but of course this is not enough. At the same time, Russia does not allocate generous funds from its own budget, vice versa, it constantly demands from the local occupation administrations to secure the transfer of so-called own incomes to the budgets of these territories. The Russian Federation demands that all expenditures aimed at supporting so-called stability are based on the principle of fifty percent from local sources and fifty percent from the federal budget of the Russian Federation.
So-called revenues to local budgets can be divided into several sources. The first is the proceeds from the management of the captured Ukrainian property. This is what the well-known company “Vneshtorhservice” is doing. It is registered in South Ossetia. But most of the captured Ukrainian enterprises are not working, so it does not heal the economy.
The second source is direct assistance, which comes from the material and technical reserves of the Russian Federation. The third source - through the "Humanitarian Aid Commission" headed by Deputy Minister of Economy Serhei Nazarov. In fact, the Russian government is responsible for the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The fourth – they collect funds from local businesses in the form of so-called taxes. In fact, this is just a fee that has been set for local businessmen for entrepreneurial activity.
Occupants use Ukrainian minerals, for example, coal. And even after its realization or using in production cycles, in particular in Russia, revenues go in the pocket of "dealers" who organize shadow schemes. For example, over the past year about 4 million tons of coal have actually been stolen from Ukrainian mineral resources. And the lion's share of profits from this coal went not to provide the population of the temporarily occupied territories, but simply to the pockets of transnational organized criminal groups. These groupings are controlled by special services of the Russian Federation. Without them it is impossible to do anything there. And because of the fact that various special services of the Russian Federation have different representatives in the occupation administrations, conflicts between them are also constantly arising, for the influence on the president of Russia and the redistribution of resources in the "black" economic field. Such schemes are used in order not to allocate funds from the budget of the Russian Federation. In addition, high-quality anthracite coal mined in temporarily occupied territories very often goes overseas. A number of people are enriched due to this process, ranging from the bottom to the top in Moscow.
The occupant is obliged to ensure the vital activity of the population at the proper level, which does not take place in reality. The part of civilian population in the occupied territories needs humanitarian assistance. For example, according to UN estimates, the Humanitarian Response Plan for the current year for all humanitarian needs presupposes about $ 164 million. This is just humanitarian aid, and these funds are not directed towards the development of the occupied territories. Also, if you take for example the budget of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the previous years, it is at the level of $ 60 million annually. It is important that all humanitarian assistance from the international humanitarian organizations is attracted by the Government of Ukraine, and much of it goes to temporarily occupied territories.
- Do the occupation administrations not refuse from humanitarian aid? Their statements sounded that, for example, they do not need Ukrainian help.
- They do not refuse. But they do not admit Ukrainian help as it is branded as Ukrainian. However, the Ukrainian authorities can not work in the temporarily occupied part of Donbas, so we work through the international mechanism - providing humanitarian assistance exclusively through UN agencies and the ICRC and other international humanitarian organizations. Such organizations, through a simplified procedure, cross the contact line. Ukraine maximally simplified the access of humanitarian cargos to the occupied territories in order to help Ukrainians, which meets the provisions of the Minsk Agreements.
Instead of that, the occupation administrations imposed a number of additional barriers and even expelled some international organizations, for them not to work in these territories. For more than two years we have insisted on the opening of additional EECP at the line of contact in the Luhansk oblast, in Zolote. The Ukrainian side spent more than UAH 1 million there to build the infrastructure for organizing the contact line crossing. The issue was originally agreed in Minsk, but then the Russian side and the occupation administrations refused to open the check point.
- The point is that they do not give any reason to be discussed. It simply does not exist. More than two years ago the EECP in Golden has been closed.
- Perhaps, it is done to maintain a constant atmosphere of tension in the occupied territories? After all, the greater the tension, the more negatively people begin to treat Ukraine.
- This is one of the reasons. The second reason is to hide the real state of affairs. The Soviet experience is working: there was taken away the opportunity to observe from all international organizations, instead of that the alternative picture of reality is created. For example, in the temporarily occupied part of Donbas, social discontent takes place among the employees of enterprises in settlements, which dependent on these enterprises. In response, according to the Soviet model, there is formed a group, which includes the representative of the occupation administration, of the public organization, which member is the Head of the occupation administration, and a representative of so-called Ministry of State Security. This three persons come to the enterprise to calm people, or to bribe the most active ones, so that they "stay silent". Well, is it not the Soviet way?
- Does Russia need coal from Donbas, if its energy sources seem to be enough?
- Russia itself - no. This is exclusively a scheme how not to allocate funds from the budget of the Russian Federation. Why should they allocate funds from the budget, if there is Ukrainian subsoil nearby? Steal, but provide realization. That is why coal often goes overseas. Or it can be "set up" under the corruption scheme in the Russian Federation, exactly "set up", but on this purpose the price should be significantly reduced.
- Besides Russia, where does the stolen coal from Donbas go?
- The coal is supplied to different countries, not only to the Russian Federation. In this case, the falsification of documents takes place, to show that it is Russian coal.
- Even to Europe?
- Yes. To Turkey, for example, to other countries of Europe, even to EU member states. This does not mean that these countries deliberately encourage such schemes, just the falsification of documents takes place. Ukrainian coal crosses the line of the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is not currently controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, further undergoes various manipulations, and, according to falsificated documents, Ukrainian coal has a different origin. It is very difficult to establish, for example, in Italy that coal, which according to Russian documents comes from Russia, in fact is Ukrainian.
South Ossetia and other unrecognized quasi-state entities are widely used "to run file". For example, the company is located in South Ossetia, where there is the South Ossetian Bank, which has correspondent accounts in the Russian Federation. A system is created when the company that is created or physically exists in the occupied territories of Ukraine opens an account in the bank created by quasi-state entities. But in reality, it is simply the accounting electronic system that is connected with the electronic system of " layer" in South Ossetia, and this platform has access to the Russian bank. This all is provided with access to the financial system of the Russian Federation. Thus, the financial system of the Russian Federation and the occupied territories are connected.
Russia, in general, tries to make a coalition of unrecognized "republics", as if they form a circle of "friends”, not friends in reality, and simply create a picture for the propaganda machine of the Russian Federation.
- What are the groups of influence in the occupied Donbas, and to which of special services of Russia each of them is subordinated?
- First, there are almost 40,000 representatives of illegal armed formings that need to be managed. Organizationally they are included in the Southern Federal Military District of the Russian Federation. It means that these divisions, in matters of subordination and organization of their activities, communications, warnings of military threat (of tactical character), command and (logistical) security, are included in the military system of the Southern Federal Military District.
By the way, do you remember how Putin intimidated with video about the most modern weapon? So, its items, which can be seen not in animation, but as if on real photos, are the so-called "Kyndzhal" system. It was announced that the first "Kyndzhals" are already in service in the Southern Federal Military District, which structurally and geographically covers the Crimea and occupied Donbas.
Next - the system of their "state security", which is provided by MGB, but in fact - it is a branch of FSB. And there is the GRU of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. And each of these structures wants to have its share of the income from the temporarily occupied territories, because there are all conditions for that: no responsibility, the courts do not work, there is the weapon.
The civilian branch, which is responsible for socio-economic support, is represented by the so-called commission of the RF Government on humanitarian assistance, headed by Serhii Nazarov. For the ideological and political part- known to all Mr. Surkov.
All these structures in the occupied territories have their own people. So imagine if one is a proxy of one center of influence, and the other is a proxy of another center of influence, and the conflict arises between them, then strangely enough, this conflict is solved in Moscow. These conflicts have deepened now. A number of conflicts taking place at the level of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have actually been transferred to the Moscow offices. That is, officials in Moscow are in the tense relationship because of the situation in Donbas.
- They say in media that after elimination of Zakharchenko, Olexandr Yanukovych and Serhii Kurchenko actively distribute the spheres of influence and financial flows from occupied Donbas among themselves. This is true?
- As for Kurchenko, everything is well known. “Vneshtorhservice” is also his project. By the way, by 2014, the firm with this name was registered in Ukraine and controlled by Mr. Kurchenko. This is one scheme, which uses the citizens of Ukraine, who have joined the Russian Federation and provide support to the occupation regime. Russia builds schemes allowing to deny plausibly the intervenes in the affairs of Ukraine and the support the regime of occupation. But who has made the schemes? Some Ukrainian citizen, not us. And whose is the money? Some South Ossetian company, not us, the bank is not our. They say that they are not afraid of anything and anyone, but the schemes are built so that it is difficult to reach Russia.
As for Yanukovych, I do not think that he has a significant influence there.
- Ukraine is now on the edge of a great election process. If the IDPs can vote in the presidential elections, they will not be able to elect deputies in majoritarian elections in parliamentary races. At the same time, soon it will be two years since the bill № 6240 has been obtained by the Verkhovna Rada, according to which the IDPs receive the right to vote in majoritarian and local elections. Why is this happening? Why is it so delayed?
- Internally displaced persons should be given the right to vote in all elections without exception. This is our position. The bill you are talking about was developed within the framework of the working group at the Ministry in frames of the Council of Europe Project "Strengthening the Human Rights Protection of IDPs in Ukraine". It seems to me that now the political situation in the Verkhovna Rada is such that it does not allow to adopt this law.
- Perhaps the deputies are simply disadvantaged to give the right to vote to IDPs, after all, the less voters we have, the more convenient it is?
- I do not think so. If there are any doubts about respecting human rights in Ukraine, it is unprofitable for anyone who supports democratic values. However, this question of voting involves a whole range of decisions, not one bill. It is easy to say that we will now adopt one bill, and it will change everything, but in fact, we need system solutions.
What do the opponents say concerning giving the right to vote to displaced persons in local elections? They say that all internally displaced persons should be guaranteed the right to vote in Donetsk and Luhansk, from where they were expelled. If we are talking about the peacekeeping mission, that elections will be organized, as it is presupposed by the Minsk Agreements, these people should have the opportunity to choose local authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk.
But I fully support that all Ukrainian citizens should be involved in the election process, regardless of other factors.
- In the separatist mass media of eastern Ukraine, for more than half a year, the issue of possible use of the chemical weapons by the Armed Forces of Ukraine arises. It seems that the UAF is preparing such attack. Once a week such news appears stable. What is it connected with? Are the hitmen insuring themselves from possible man-made disasters as a result of their economic activity?
- We regarded several versions, but the most likely one, and we found a lot of evidences to support it, is that in the temporarily occupied territories they do not adhere to the rules of dealing with hazardous wastes, and there are significant problems with ensuring the safety of those industries located on the line of contact. In our opinion, it is just a smokescreen to hide the possible failures of the occupation administrations. For example, at the “Styrol” plant there is a branch of the ammonia pipeline, which goes to the Odessa Port Plant. Also there are wastes of mercury, chlorine, acids. In order to protect the population, it is necessary to take serious measures that have not been carried out there for the last 4-5 years. Moreover, nobody is planning to conduct them. There are risks, and how to protect from them with the help of information? To say that the Ukrainian army is trying to do something, and if something happens, Ukraine will be guilty.
By the way, in many industries there are the threats of harmful substances entering the groundwater, in particular, in the water supplied through the channel “Siverskii Donets- Donbas” and in the whole system of water supply. The quality of surface water in Donetsk has considerably deteriorated during the last 4 years, due to the fact that they stopped pumping out water from some mines. According to our order, there were taken the water samples in Donetsk's surface reservoirs for analysis, of course, this is not the official analysis, but simply monitoring the situation. So the water indicators are very poor. The problem of high-quality water in Donbas is principle, but now, due to threats of nationalization of the part of the company "Water of Donbas", the issue has become more acute.
- By the way, concerning the so-called nationalization of "Water of Donbass". Is it possible? What will it lead to?
- This can lead to a complete stoppage of water supply in the region. It seems to me that many people just do not fully understand what is happening. For me, this is about the same as the threat of committing a terrorist act. Two years ago, $ 70 million were allocated from the state budget to support the water utility company "Water of Donbas", only to ensure that water supply for the residents of the region would not stop. For humanitarian reasons, Ukraine is struggling to support the water supply system, although it is economically ineffective.
- Are they trying somehow to make money with it?
- Yes, this is also a question of money for them. Everything that is collected from people for water, the occupation administrations take to their pockets, and let Ukraine pay salaries to the "Water of Donbas" Moreover, for political reasons, the occupation administrations have set such low tariffs to show that they are "successful" managers. The fact that the company, in principle, has no means to exist does not confuse them. Therefore, in Minsk, the question will be raised about the need for serious international discussions to find a mechanism to support the functioning of the water supply system at the appropriate economic level.
- Since the beginning of the year, 9 people have died at the EECPs when crossing the line of contact. Why do such situations take place?
- Because there are not enough EECPs. We need to open additional ones to let people pass more quickly. Secondly, the Ukrainian side has more throughput, than the occupied territories. Look, for example, at Stanytsa Luhanska: on the side controlled by Ukraine, there are many points through which you can pass, and on the occupied part there is a narrow passage. There was a lot of criticism on Ukraine for improving the infrastructure on EECP. Ukraine has allocated $ 2 million and last year improved the conditions for three EECPs, but work continues along the whole line of contact: improving sanitary conditions, shelters from shelling, increasing the number of points where the throughput regime is provided. If you compare what happens on the part of the occupation administrations, then it is just "heaven and earth." By the way, there is medical personnel in the service area of each EECP.