Today, one of the main questions asked by residents of the uncontrolled territory of Donetsk oblast is when the border between the "DNR" and Ukraine will be opened.
Let us put aside the everlasting topic of pension tourism in order to remember that having torn apart the Donbass in 2014, not only the land but also families were torn apart. Now, when they began to let into Donetsk twice a week according to some strange lists and let out only those who have Ukrainian registration, the situation is completely deadlocked. It turns out that children living in Donetsk cannot see their parents, who are 20-40 kilometers away from them: Avdiivka, Volnovakha, Velyka Novosilka, Kurakhove…
Many have summer houses "on the other side" that are abandoned because the owners have not come there since autumn. The land, which delighted its owners with green cucumbers, juicy tomatoes and tight cabbage heads every summer, overgrew with weeds. Flowers growing in front of the house have dried up because of the lack of moisture. Last year's dry leaves fly around the yard, driven by the steppe wind…
You must admit that this is a distressing scene. Is it possible not to understand those who have been waiting for all five months, when they will be able to come to the place where they habitually hid from the city noise and hot asphalt for many years, where they stocked up with jars of pickled products and preserves for the winter and where their grandchildren breathed fresh air? Come to at least put things in order in the house, in the yard and harvest the garden.
In addition to these reasons, there are also a solution to business issues (many entrepreneurs living in Donetsk have registration of active in Ukraine), consultations with doctors and sanatorium therapy for children with health problems. You can continue to list the reasons that have prompted people to cross the demarcation line since 2014, but for some reason, it is more convenient for many to think that only pensioners are worried about closed borders.
The opening of checkpoint on the Ukrainian side, which took place in June, shook people who were on standby amid the pandemic. Having received the instruction "you can go", they rushed to the checkpoints, but were forced to realize that it would not be as before. Someone ran to line up at the "Interdepartmental Operational Headquarters to prevent the import and spread of the new coronavirus infection caused by 2019-nCoV", so that if they leave Donetsk, they would have permission to return after some time. Others, not wanting to wait, decided to get to Ukraine through Russia. Of course, only those in good health could go on this long journey (it takes 28 hours to get to Kharkiv with pedestrian crossings in some sections) and money (the cost of a one-way trip costs an average of $110).
Those who traveled by private car tell that a scheme familiar from crossing the demarcation line with Ukraine began to work on the Russian border - regular buses and so-called carriers that pay border guards for "urgency" pass out of turn.
There are also those who join a queue to sell the place and, of course, there are those who want to be closer to passport control for an additional fee in order to save 4-6 hours on the way. Apparently, the Donetsk residents have accumulated so many things on the territory of Ukraine that they decide on such trips despite all these difficulties.
I am ready to argue with my math teacher in the seventh year of the war. She gave me a poor mark once, having stated that the sequence of my actions in solving the problem is akin to if I went to Mariupol through Horlivka. Now I know for sure that people travel from Donetsk to Mariupol via Rostov, Belgorod and Kharkiv.
Residents of the "DNR" want to escape from this "paradise" so much that they lose their sense of humor when they hear about another illegal way to get to Ukraine. Just recently, the option of crossing the border through mine workings on comfortable mine cars was quite seriously discussed. People with serious faces wondered if anyone had access to these "carriers". And it really amused me that some Ukrainian journalists even addressed head of the Independent Trade Union of the Donbass Miners Mykola Volynko to get a comment on the reality of this type of border crossing.
However, we must agree that many things that seem unrealistic at first glance are quite easy to do in the uncontrolled territory since 2014.
For example, everyone knows that border between the friendly "DNR" and "LNR" "republics" has been tightly closed since the first days of the announcement of quarantine. It is also known that, unlike Donetsk, Luhansk has opened the border with Ukraine and is working in a pre-quarantine mode. I think few people will be surprised to learn that some enterprising people swiftly organized the transportation of Donetsk residents to the exit to the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint. They were taken, of course, by some unknown narrow paths, but they were in Luhansk after two hours. A little more time for the transition and ta da - you are at the destination. The value of the matter is $55-80. Depending on the client's desire, whether to go through two weeks of self-isolation. That is, the price of $80 includes a PCR test with a negative result.
Every day, trips through the "LNR" became more and more popular among the "DNR" population. First of all, because of overcoming a shorter distance than crossing the Russian border. The telephone numbers of benefactors delivering people to the only working corridor in CADLO were personally handed from one person to another. A lot of Donetsk residents managed to leave for Ukraine for one and a half-two months of a well-oiled scheme of illegal transportation. But on August 18, not a single person registered on the territory of the "DNR" heading for Ukraine was allowed to pass at the passport control from the Luhansk side. The carriers' contact numbers do not answer to this day.
Now the only way to get to the controlled territory is the Donetsk-Rostov-Belgorod-Kharkiv route. Of course, also illegal. But allowed by the "DNR" authorities. I do not think it is worth explaining why. After all, money is the basis of all "benefits for the people" here, as usual.
It is quite difficult to find a logical explanation for the closed borders of the "DNR" with Ukraine. Because it is obvious that the leadership of the "people's republic" has won nothing either in the political issue or in the economic one. It even lost. Having deprived its citizens of the opportunity to move within an area divided by military conflict, the government has only increased social tension. No one believes that the cause is coronavirus, because it is known that according to statistics, the situation in Russia, with which the border is open, is much worse than in Ukraine. Trying to find an answer to the question: "Why is it possible to leave the "DNR" for Russia, but not for Ukraine?", the Donetsk residents philosophically conclude after sighing, - "Because Ukraine is not Russia".
The situation reduced to absurdity makes people dream of large-scale protests, which may remain only dreams under the conditions of a military dictatorship, alas. The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that the hostages of the Novorossia project understand that even if, theoretically, a precedent arises with the change of local "government", they will not have a real right to vote.
Liysia Molchanova, Donetsk, for OstroV