Many of those living in the "DNR" admit that they cannot plan anything in their life for more than a month. Quite often you can hear the phrase: "We do not know what will happen tomorrow, and you ask what will happen in a year". Moreover, this is the answer not only of ordinary citizens, but also of employees of organizations that provide various services to consumers. They cannot answer the population why they have to renew the contract for servicing objects with security organizations for the third time in five years and with energy supply companies and utilities - twice. They cannot say for sure whether there will be an increase in tariffs for heat, electricity and gas supply in the near future, although representatives of the "authorities" assure that the cost of these services will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the Donetsk residents have already realized that the increase in rent, removal of household waste, water and sewage is only the beginning, and soon, their wallets will lose even more weight. After all, they have learned to read between the lines and know the value of all the promises of officials and big bosses of the "people's republic".
"Acting head of the DNR tariff service" Alexander Alipov reported on one of the local TV channels that from September 1, garbage removal services and rent increased by 30%, water supply in Donetsk – almost by 2 times, in other cities and districts – by 1.5, explaining this need by the fact that due to low tariffs, there is no way to not only increase salaries to housing and communal services' employees, but also to pay them timely. As a result, the utilities faced a massive layoff of experts, what invites a disaster against the backdrop of the approaching heating season.
The tariffs for housing services and utilities in the "DNR" have been a source of pride for supporters of the Russian world for all five years of the military conflict. The cost of water and electricity consumption has not risen since 2010, and for heating - since 2009. Therefore, one could hear the phrase - "on the other hand, we have cheap utilities" quite often as an airtight argument that we do not live so badly here. Actually, there was nothing more to be proud of.
In the winter of 2019, when the city drowned in trash, it suddenly became clear that the tariffs needed to be urgently recounted, and not only for the removal of solid waste. Representatives of housing services and utilities increasingly said from the TV screens that the utilities sector is considered unprofitable by more than 50%. Soon, the "Republican Tariff Service" was instructed to calculate the increase in some services. These are water supply, solid waste removal and housing stock. The population was reassured that the increase would be insignificant and would not greatly affect the family budget. Indeed, the payments increased by an average of $3-5, what, in general, was almost not noticeable for consumers of public utilities.
But recently, representatives of the utilities have again become frequent guests of studios of local television channels, saying that the September increase in tariffs will only partially solve the problems of utilities. Not earlier than yesterday, "first deputy head of the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the DNR" Vitaliy Kizhayev also said: "An increase in rent and water by 30% will partly allow, I repeat - partly, to stabilize the situation in housing services" and reminded the viewers once again about the outflow of workers from housing services and utilities due to the low salaries, about the planned increase in wages for communal services' employees and about the need to purchase inventory.
There is a real trouble with inventory in the "republic". Yard-keepers begin their morning work with the fact that they make a tool for themselves. To do this, they break off the branches of shrubs and tie them into a tight bundle that is attached to a stick. Who does not have a stick is forced to besom with a short broom, what greatly complicates the process of cleaning the territory. There are no garbage bags. Old packages from grocery stores or some rags are used for these purposes. There are no shovels either. They are replaced by pieces of cardboard or plastic.
Young and middle-aged people do not practice this profession. It is understandable why - low wages ($50), which are often delayed for two, or even three months. Therefore, yard-keepers of a retirement age sweep streets in the "young republic". It is hard to watch without tears, and something suggests that the expected increase in salaries by 30% is unlikely to change the situation in this sector.
Against the background of this unsightly picture, anxious moods are growing in the "DNR" - the information about the reduction of "central" financing of the "republic" is alarming, the possible escalation of the armed conflict is frightening and the expectation of the next wave of utilities increasing is worrying. People are afraid that the price of heat will rocket with the beginning of the heating season. Since 2014, people paid $12 a month for a standard two-room apartment with heating, but if the tariff is doubled, it will be more than $15. Indeed, for people receiving a social or minimum pension of $60, this will already be more than tangible.
Donetsk used to live modestly for the years of war, and now it will need to try to survive with greatly reduced subsidies. How it will do this is unknown. Most likely, there will be more abandoned public gardens and crumbling building facades in the near future. But it is not customary here to think what will happen in a year, because no one knows what will happen in a month…
Liusia Molchanova, Donetsk, for OstroV