I think that many have already managed to read information on pro-Russian Internet resources that the "DNR" is the territory of residence of happy pensioners, and even to some extent died of envy. Allegedly, people there receive two pensions (Ukrainian and local) and a third, Russian one, is on the way. But is that really true?
The fact that most people of retirement age draw up pensions on both sides of the conflict is true. It is also true that from January 1, 2020, all social benefits of this category of the population in the territory of the "DNR" were increased, although not significantly, but still surpassed the Ukrainian minimum. Consequently, the poorest pensioners in the "republic" will receive $75 in February, while in Ukraine, the lower border of the pension is $67. Of course, we must remember that the utilities are still lower than in Ukraine, despite the recent increases, as well as gasoline, and, as of yet, travel by public transport.
Against the background of non-working enterprises in the occupied part of Donbass, of course, the question "at whose expense is the banquet?" arises, but big-time politics is not for simple minds, so we have to analyze the given, not the cause and effect. The fact that the "authorities" of the "DNR" and "LNR" announced rather ambitious plans to increase social payments to pensioners and salaries to state employees and civil servants is plain to see.
All local news is full of information that by 2022, salaries and pension payments will be at the level of the neighboring Rostov oblast. According to "head of the republic" Pushilin, the increase will take place in three stages: from January 1, 2021, from July 1, 2021 and from January 1, 2022. At each of the stages, pensions will increase by an average of 20%, salaries of public sector workers – by 28%, and officials – by 18%.
Consequently, the minimum pension in the "DPR" can in theory reach $130 by 2022. Well, unless, of course, some force majeure happens, which is likely against the backdrop of an unstable political situation both in the rebellious region and in Russia itself. But the fact remains – the pension minimum has increased from $50 to $75 since June 2019.
It is no secret that "pension tourism" is developed not only in one direction – from the "DNR" to Ukraine, but vice versa. Those who left Donetsk for Volnovakha, Pokrovsk, Mariupol, Dokuchaievsk, Bakhmut, Kramatorsk or, for example, Sloviansk, do not disdain Russian payments. They come to "visit" their housing every month, pay utilities and, of course, receive their pensions. As well as in Ukraine, local "authorities" are looking for ways to identify such "tourists" in order to save on social benefits.
People standing in line at the Mayorske-Zaitseve checkpoint actively discuss the work of representatives of the commission of the "DNR" Pension Fund in Debaltseve, engaged in identifying pensioners registered in the Donetsk oblast and adjacent settlements, but who actually live in the Ukraine-controlled areas.
There are announcements in the "Pension district offices" that from February 1 to May 30, verification of the local population will be carried out in the "DNR". This means that each pensioner must personally come to the PF and provide a certain package of documents, including passport with a local registration. They also say that only real citizens of the "republic", that is, those who have the "DNR" passport, will be able to receive pensions in the near future. It is unknown how many people will be stopped by this nuance, but so far, all pensioners who are registered in the uncontrolled part of the Donbass receive and process their payments with Ukrainian passports.
Regarding the third pension, it turned out to be not so simple as the Donetsk pensioners, who rushed to apply for Russian citizenship in the first ranks, dreamed of. They faced the fact that their new documents mean nothing without registration in the Russian Federation, therefore, they are not entitled to apply for Russian pensions.
The "new Russians" became even more upset, having learned that there would be no freebie, even if a stamp with a place of registration in one of the settlements of the Russian Federation appears in their documents.
The Pension Fund of Russia made a special clarification on this issue, according to which residents of the Donbass who received Russian citizenship will be accrued pensions in according to the standard procedure and in accordance with legislation in power. This means that the PFR will clarify the existence of seniority and earnings of citizens by sending requests to colleagues from Ukraine and the "LDNR". The pensioner will have to sit down here and calculate where he will find and where he will lose in social benefits, because after this procedure, the issue of double and, especially, triple pensions will be completely closed for him/her.
However, not all pensioners make such calculations and determine the percentage of benefits from applying for a Russian pension. There is a considerable percentage of elderly people in the uncontrolled Donbass for whom the establishment of "republican" pensions at the Rostov level means a lot, because they are forced to live only at the cost of the pension. Someone cannot cross the line of demarcation for ideological reasons, others simply cannot afford the road. However, they do not know whether to rejoice or not. Indeed, along with pompous statements about raising pensions, for the first time since 2014, the prices for utilities were unfrozen, which will also increase in several stages.
Tariffs for cold water increased in September by 52%, water disposal - by 57%, garbage collection and rent - by 30%, electricity is getting more expensive since February 1.
Gas, heating and hot water prices are likely to rise after that. The fact that, according to a long-standing tradition, delays in the payment of both wages and social benefits begin appear along with the announced increase prevents from rejoicing to the upcoming increase in pensions. The bank employees only shake their heads in response to all questions about the reasons and the estimated period of delay.
Lusia Molchanova, Donetsk, specially for OstroV