Beginning of the new year turned out to be unhappy for the Donetsk residents. In general, very few people in the "republic" remember when they were overwhelmed with positive emotions since the spring of 2014. In most cases, they feel confusion, misunderstanding, rejection, uncertainty, fear and anxiety. And also hope. It would be a very sad existence without it. This is probably the only feeling that unites all the residents of the "republic", although it has diametrically opposed expectations. Some wait for Ukraine’s return to Donetsk and others hope that this will never happen.
"Authorities" of the "DNR" decided that the best New Year’s gift for the people would be an increase in utility tariffs to the level of other regions of russia. "Given the rather large gap in the DNR tariffs compared to other regions of the Russian Federation (the DNR tariffs are two to two and a half times lower than in the Rostov oblast), a decision was made to gradually equalize the tariffs level between the DNR and other regions of the Russian Federation. This process is divided into 10 years, starting from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2032", - "head" of the "DNR government" Vitaly Khotsenko reported.
"Minister" of construction, housing and communal services of the "DNR" Eduard Osipov explains this by the fact that starting from 2019, the increase in tariffs was carried out taking into account the growth in incomes of citizens. Since January 1, 2023, the minimum salary and minimum pension have been increased by 58% and now amount to $223 per month, as in the neighboring Rostov oblast. According to him, it will be fair to equalize utility tariffs as well.
It sounds kind of convincing, but the population of the "republic" does not believe that the declared minimum salary will actually be paid. I will give just one example. The cashiers of the Galaktika construction hypermarket asked the management if their salary would really be $223 per month starting from January (it used to be $165). They were told that the company did not have the funds for this increase. I think there will be a lot more of such cases soon.
The last increase in utility tariffs in the "republic" was exactly a year ago - on January 1, 2022. Utility bills were increased on average by 17%. Electricity, water supply, sewerage and solid waste disposal rose in price. The Donetsk residents began to repine. Like, they live "under shelling" already, and the prices rise. Those who in 2014 were nostalgic for sausage costing $0.03, vodka costing $0.05 and their youth, were especially upset. They remember well enough that the utility tariffs in the USSR were quite low. However, with age, other "charms" of life in that country were erased from their memory: a total deficit of products, many hours spent in queues and the fact that they received a salary of only $1.1-1.4 a month.
But most of all, those who yearn for the Soviet past, are annoyed by the Donetsk residents, who left the city and began to tease them. They began to be reminded how at the beginning of the war they repeated that everything in the "DNR" is done for the sake of people and cited the increase of utility bills in Ukraine, which remained the same in the "republic" as an example. Well, who would have liked that? Realizing society’s alarming moods, the "authorities" hurried to reassure the people of Donetsk. I remember that in October, Pushilin promised that tariffs for the "DNR" residents would remain low, given the martial law. "An important issue... is tariffs. They are set below their actual cost and are of a social nature. I consider that it is very important to maintain such an approach for the sake of the residents of the republic", - the "head" of the "republic" wrote in his Telegram channel. And lied once again…
From January 1, 2023, the payment for water supply will increase from $0.34 per cubic meter of water to $0.41. The "DNR" residents will have to pay $0.19 per cubic meter instead of $0.16 for water disposal. Centralized heating will cost $0.24 per square meter per month throughout the year (it used to be $0.2). The payment for electricity will be $0.03 (instead of $0.02). The gas tariff will increase by $0.05 per person. If there is an installed meter, the price will be $45.14 per 1000 cubic meters.
However, since the first day of the new year, not only tariffs for housing and communal services have increased in the "republic". Food prices went up as well, but the "authorities" prefer not to comment on this. On each supermarket shelf, there are announcements that the displayed prices are not relevant and that the customers should check the price at the checkout.
The Donetsk residents post photos of receipts on social networks, which make it easy to see how the prices changed over the past few days. If on December 31, a roll of Myakushka toilet paper cost $0.22, then on January 2, 2023 it was already $0.26. Processed cheese President has risen in price by $0.08 over this period, and a chicken egg has increased in price by $0.01.
However, in September, having heard people’s complaints about exorbitant prices, the "head" of the "republic" "took the situation under control". He announced this in his Telegram channel on September 15. "A chat bot on prices has been launched, and we have already sent inspection bodies to the places at your request. But the problem is deeper and more serious. I looked into it today, and the problem is not even in retail outlets, but in wholesalers. We will also deal with them", - he wrote. Pushilin also promised the people of Donetsk to seek help from the Rostov oblast, where food is "two to two and a half times cheaper".
On December 2, they showed on TV how Pushilin, together with "minister" of economic development of the "DNR" Vladimir Zverkov, conducted a raid on retail outlets in Donetsk and Khartsyzk on the issue of pricing. After that, Pushilin said on camera that the "republican" prices should be aligned with the Rostov oblast. "Let’s develop an effective mechanism", - he demonstratively addressed the "minister". "I ask you to gather entrepreneurs, large suppliers and distributors to discuss their vision of this situation. Involve Yaroslav Berezhko, the entrepreneurs’ ombudsman, and let them suggest what hinders them, maybe there is something in the legislation, maybe we missed something. We need our prices to be no higher than in the Rostov oblast".
Zverkov confirmed that during the raid, about 30 items with exorbitant prices were recorded compared to the Rostov oblast. Mostly vegetables and meat. Pushilin thoughtfully concluded: "As far as I understand, there is only the difference in the logistics that should remain due to the more expensive products’ transportation caused by an extra downtime at the border. While we are solving the problem with the border, this is reflected in the price. If anything is missing, we must understand this and work proactively so that from January 1, when our transition period on customs issues and VAT ends, we would have already reached the level of the Rostov oblast. This is our task".
Well, the main thing is to reassure and show on TV how the "authority" takes care of its people. It’s just not clear, whether they really think that people are so stupid that they won’t notice the price increase instead of the promised decrease?
The residents of Donetsk were also deceived before the New Year: they were promised an extended water supply schedule for the three festive days. "There were a lot of requests about water for the New Year holidays. I gave instructions, the specialized services have fulfilled the task and I have good news. We plan to introduce an extended water supply schedule on December 30 and 31, as well as on January 1", - Pushilin reassured Donetsk residents in his Telegram channel.
The promise to build a water conduit from the Don river by the autumn, which could solve the problem with water in the "republic", turned out to be a bluff as well. Just like many other things. But, you know, there is a positive side to this situation. People are losing not only trust in the government with every passing day, but also their patience to wait for improvements is running out. Some understand that they were deceived and are angry at those who promised them a better life, others begin to act. I think that it is no coincidence that they set fire to a car with the "Z" symbol on it in Donetsk before the New Year. This is the first sign of people’s protest against total lies, information noise and imposed war.
Lusia Molchanova, Donetsk, for OstroV