By Tetyana Zarovna, journalist
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Donetsk residents demand to put an end to the abuse of retirees who live in the [captured] territory of the DNR [the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic].
There are only 40 kilometers [24.9 miles] between Donetsk and the nearest Ukrainian city of Kurakhove, where [Ukrainian officials] offer to issue pensions to the citizens—but it is not that easy to overcome these kilometers. There are four checkpoints in this stretch [of road], which are impassable for some because of the “black list” the insurgents use to catch Ukrainian patriots. As for the people who happened to be in the paws of the local “NKVD,” they will be unable to cross both the “DNR” and the Ukrainian checkpoint, since terrorists usually destroy the documents of their captives.
And in Kurakhove, the Donetsk pensioners will have to provide confirmation of their residence in Kurakhove, backed up by two witnesses—neighbors; they will also have to go through a number of bureaucratic procedures.
Some of the refugees moved away, during the fighting, from the settlements captured by terrorists to Kurakhove recreation bases. It would seem logical that this group of seniors would get help first. But unfortunately, nothing along these lines is currently being observed.
On condition of anonymity, a teacher of the Ukrainian school #111 in Donetsk, shut down by the “DNR,” shared with “Obozrevatel” the details of these misadventures.
“At first, I was sent to Kurakhove [city] executive committee, where I stood in line for 30 minutes in front of an office, and then managed to get into the reception area. It turned out that there are no pensions for those living at a recreation facility. [They] don’t even want to talk [about this]. Fortunately, an acquaintance of mine lives in Kurakhove. For me to get served, I had to get a confirmation that I temporarily lived with her [my friend]. Then, I had to take this certificate to the Pension fund division, then [wait] in line there again. Then, [I had to] enclose an official document signed by two witnesses (confirming that I live at the address of my acquaintance in Kurakhove). After that—an audience with an MP, who would sign this document. Then, I had to go to “Oschadbank.” I had a card from the Donetsk division, but they made me get a new card at a Kurakhove bank. After that, I had to wait for three weeks. Bureaucrats only take appointments until 12 noon; that is why it is impossible to do everything in the course of one day. And there were old people from different cities in line with me, for example—from Thorez, who spent over a hundred hryvnias and a few hours on the trip. I get this feeling that [they] hate us. They look at the residents of Donetsk as enemies of the people.”
At the Pension fund main office, they explain that the Pension fund [offices] are closed on the territory of the “DNR” and “LNR” [Luhansk People’s Republic] and that the pensioners have no choice but to transfer from district offices in their cities to the territory controlled by Ukraine. Since there are hostilities at the nearest regional center of Mariinka in the vicinity of Donetsk, the district Pension fund was opened in Kurakhove.
[There is] a separate problem—what to do with the most vulnerable: the disabled, the sick and lonely old people, who got their pensions delivered by the mailman. It looks as if they are doomed to a painful death at their apartments—if not from a projectile, then from hunger.
“Post offices are closed—my mom used to receive her pension there, and I [got it] at the Sberbank division,” an activist from the former Batkivshchyna [Yulia Tymoshenko’s party] in the Proletarskyi district of Donetsk told “Obozrevatel.”—“At the bank, [they] said that all September contributions have been stopped. Suppose that I was able to leave, but I have to take care of my sick mother, she is 93. It’s unreal to get her out. We will certainly not survive this winter. I have no strength to listen to my mother asking for food. She does not even realize when I tell her that we are in war. She asks, ‘How? Have the Germans attacked us again?’ … And she spent 50 years at work, my father was a soldier, a disabled veteran. My mom survived famine during World War II. And in the end, I turned out to be a fascist in the views of the ‘DNR’ and a concentration camp prisoner—in fact. Because the Ukraine that I have been fighting for, has abandoned us. How is it possible for people living in the heart of Europe in the 21st century to die of hunger?!”
The state employees found themselves facing a stark moral choice. They will have to go and work for the “DNR,” or be doomed to starvation.
The maternity hospital staff (at the Center for Protection of Motherhood, which is popularly called the Vishnevsky hospital) complain about the lack of money. Employees are forced to write statements about going to work for the “DNR”—they are promised a salary from the “republic.” The last [salary] people received was an advance for August. It is problematic for them to leave Donetsk: there was a “DNR” resolution that the specialists would not be let out. Those who want to quit are being threatened that in case of their dismissal, their apartments will be nationalized. And again, the patriots suffer more than anyone else, who have given up practically everything for their right to be Ukrainians.
However, even the apolitical professionals take risks every hour. On August 11, projectiles hit a delivery room, after which the women were taken to the basement to deliver (thank God no one died [then]).
But the doctors are joking that the “DNR” is fighting corruption. A clinic doctor took 300 hryvnias [23 U.S. dollars] for a delivery under extreme conditions, after which a “DNR” daddy ran and released machine gun fire over the doctor’s head. A joint effort by the staff managed to persuade the terrorist to spare the doctor.
People doubt that even after taking a job at the “LNR” and “DNR” they will ever see the money. The maximum [that they can expect]—are food rations. In particular, the artists of the Donetsk Drama Theater were offered to come to work starting on October 1, and to get ready for [getting paid for] performances with products.
The professors of the Donetsk National University, who were seized by terrorists, were yesterday promised an evacuation to Vinnytsia. In the meantime, [they] began to compile lists for social assistance from the “DNR” (instead of a salary). The new Rector—the terrorist minister, Serhiy Baryshnikov, promised regular employees 2,000 hryvnias [155 U.S. dollars], 3,000 hryvnias [232 U.S. dollars] to professors, and 4,000 hryvnias [310 U.S. dollars] to the deans. The situation is the same with the emergency doctors and teachers. Professionals who were able to get employed outside of the small homeland can be counted on the fingers of one’s hand. People put all hopes in humanitarian aid. And when hunger talks, the locals explain, it is no longer important if the help comes from Akhmetov or Putin. The main thing is that it is given for free, even if once every 10 days.
“Residents living on the territory of the ATO [anti-terrorist operation], must contact the authorities of the Pension fund and social security for pensions and social benefits on the territories controlled by the Ukrainian authorities,” says the Deputy Chairman of Donetsk Regional State Administration Olena Petryayiva.
According to the deputy head of the region, the Pension fund divisions of the western and northern parts of the region are now working in emergency mode. The official statistics show that about 150 thousand pensioners have not yet received their pensions for July. Another 500,000 people [have not received their pensions] for August.
Olena Petryayiva confirms that according to the latest information from the central government, the state employees who are currently in the ATO zone, will not receive their pensions and salaries. The official has stressed: this position by [official] Kyiv leads to a humanitarian catastrophe.