Review of human rights violations on the temporarily occupied parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions: August 2020

In August 2020, new human rights violations have been detected in the parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that are temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. These include illegal detentions and restrictions on the free movement of civilians, the creation of a parallel legal system, and property rights violations. Unfortunately, such human rights violations have become the “norm” for inhabitants of the territories of the so-called “People’s Republics”.  

Illegal arrests, detentions, and restrictions on the freedom of movement

The so-called “Supreme Court of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR)” sentenced an inhabitant of the city of Alchevsk to 13 years of imprisonment for “treason”. The name of the convict was not published, but in the statement the respective charges on him are declared: ‘the collection, maintenance and transfer of information on serving employees of executive government organs and law enforcement bodies of the LNR, as well as on the positioning of parts of the People’s Police of the LNR.’

On August 14, 2020, the so-called “Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR)” found Yuri Volodymyrovych Mitchenko guilty of committing crimes under “Article 321 (Espionage), part 3, page 29 of the Criminal Code of the DNR”, and sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment in a high security penal colony.

In the statement, the exact charges on Yuri Mitchenko are specified: “as a result, the defendant, at the orders of the Ukrainian secret services, filmed a state highway in the direction of Donetsk to Gorlivka, and he was posted at administrative buildings of the Organized Crime Control Department and the Criminal Investigation Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the DNR, and at the ‘Prague’ hotel.”

Employees of the so-called “Ministry of State Security (MGB) of the LNR” on August 19, 2020, detained the acting Minister of Industry and Trade Irina Derkach, on suspicion of corruption

            It is also reported that “the investigative department of the Ministry of State Security has opened a criminal case against Irina Petrivna Derkach under part 3 of Article 350 of the Criminal Code of the LNR. A preventive measure in the form of detention was chosen for the suspect.”

Creationofaparallellegalsystem, bar, notaries, andcourts

In the temporarily occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Russia-backed occupation administrations and the media under their control continue to inform local residents and the world about the activities of their “state bodies”. We note that these activities have no legal basis and are aimed only at demonstrating the so-called “statehood” in the “republics”.

In the so-called “LNR”, within the framework of the “optimization” of the system of higher education, over the course of the present week the renaming of national universities into state universities is completed.

The first deputy of the ‘Minister of Education and Science of the LNR’, Olga Dolzhenko, added that before the end of the week, the ‘Government of the LNR’ will pass an order on the renaming of the Luhansk National Agricultural University into a state university. ‘As a result, all our universities are now state universities,’ she said.

Compulsory membership in “social” organizations and participation in “patriotic” and “social” actions in the “LNR” and “DNR”. Involvement of children in propaganda.

In the parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that are temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, under the cover of “military patriotic upbringing” anti-Ukrainian propaganda is spread among children, teenagers and adolescents with their involvement as members of “social” organizations. Employees of state-financed enterprises with so-called “external administration” do not have the option to refuse to participate in the activities of these “social” organizations, as they risk to be subverted to serious pressure and persecution. These actions by the representatives of the occupation administrations are qualified as violations of the “freedom of association”.

In Chervonopartizansk and Dovzhansk (formerly Sverdlovsk) meetings were held dedicated to the six-year anniversary of the occupation of the Sverdlovsk region.

Representatives of the territorial branch of the so-called social movement “Mir Luhanshine” (‘Peace to Luhanshine’) participated in the events, as well as members of the Youth council of the occupational administration of Dovzhansk (formerly Sverdlovsk) and of the Sverdlovsk region, and members of the “patriotic” sports club for children “Bars”.

On August 2, 2020, in Luhansk a ceremonial opening of the Paratroopers’ Square and a bust of Vasily Margelov was held, with the attendance of the so-called “Minister of Internal Affairs of the LNR” Igor Kornet, the head of the “Paratroopers Association of Luhanshina” Oleksandr Balabin, military personnel of the “LNR”, and of children of primary school age dressed up in military uniforms. The participants in the event did not wear masks and did not observe social distancing.

On the same day, on the banks of the Isakovsky water reservoir, the second open festival of children and so-called military-patriotic organizations and associations was organized. The event was dedicated to the memory of the first so-called “commander” of Perevalsk, Oleksandr Sokol, and all perished participants of illegal armed formations.  

Youth squads from Perevalsk, Alchevsk, Krasnodon and Sverdlovsk participated in the festival. In the statement it is noted that “during three days, the boys participated in sportive and creative competitions, and they visited Savins’ estate.”

On the photo it shows that without an exception, all children are wearing military uniforms and are carrying portraits of participants of illegal armed formations of the “LNR”.

In August 2020, in Miusynsk, Sukhodolsk, Khryashuvate, Bokovo-Platovo, the village at the mine “Novopavlivsk”, and in Khrustalny events were organized  in light of the sixth anniversary of the start of armed confrontations. Meetings were held at the support of the so-called “social movement” “Mir Luhanshine”, the projects “Maladaya Gvardiya” (‘Young Guard’) and “Druzhina”. Deputies of the so-called ‘People’s Council of the LNR’ participated, as well as representatives of the local administrations, representatives of the illegal armed formations, local citizens and children.  




Village at the mine ‘Novopavlivsk’



On August 13, 2020, so-called “deputies of the People’s Council of the LNR” held a meeting with youngsters dedicated to the ‘sixth anniversary of the complete blockade of Luhansk.”

It should be noted that the “complete blockade of Luhansk” is a newly coined term in the propaganda of the so-called “LNR” which is very actively promoted. In publications of so-called “Mass Media of the LNR” “LITs” parallels with the blockade of Leningrad in the years of the Second World War are made.

On August 22, 2020, field training sessions of the so-called “military-patriotic” movement “Maladaya Gvardiya – Yunarmia” were organized in Sedovo. Schoolchildren from Horlivka, Shakhtarsk, Torez and Snizhny participated.

During the training camps, the children undergo military training; they are taught topography, tactical shooting, (dis)assembling an automatic gun while blindfolded, making a card for the minute of silence with objects at hand, recreating a section of a map with improvised means, targeted attacks, provided first aid and evacuation to injured, and they are trained in endurance and accuracy.

The trainings were visited by the self-proclamed head of the so-called “DNR” Denis Pushilin, who said the following: “This will definitely be of great use. These are the skills that you will remember. Under the oath that you pronounced you connect your future with the defense of the Republic and its citizens. One way or another, this will connect with your further lives.”

A similar event was organized on August 28, 2020, in the occupied Luhansk region.  

A touristic gathering of activists of the project “Maladaya Gvardiya” of the so-called social movement “Mir Luhanshine” was organized in Antratsit.

“Activists competed in (dis)assembling an automatic gun, firing air rifles, participated in sports try-outs in a parking lot, tying ‘touristic knots’, they ‘demined’ a territory, participated in an intellectual quiz on their knowledge of the history of the Luhansk People’s Republic. Moreover, there was a rope climbing area.’ – as stated by the medium “LNR”. 

            The uncontrolled import of ammunition and weapons often harms children: a seven-year-old boy suffered serious injuries as a result of a grenade explosion in Artemivsk, in the Perevalsk region.

            The boy was brought into the intensive care unit of a children’s hospital in a serious condition, with a diagnosis of mine trauma, shrapnel wounds to the head, forehead, abdomen, and groin.

Violations of property rights

In August 2020, the process of so-called «nationalization» of enterprises that previously operated under Ukrainian jurisdiction or belonged to Ukrainian citizens residing in the Ukrainian-controlled territories since the beginning of the conflict, continued in the parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk that are temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. In our opinion, the following facts should be qualified as violations of property rights. It should be noted that these violations are systematic and widespread in the occupied regions of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

● In August 2020, so-called “State Property Fund of the DNR” published six announcements on the transfer into lease of vacant real estate objects.

● In August 2020, the so-called “State Committee of Taxes and Duties” of the so-called “LNR” published 34 notices on the discovery of ownerless property.

Among the objects declared as ownerless are:

Property of legal entities:

A protective structure – an anti-radiation shelter located in the basement of a four-storey residential building; a dairy complex for keeping cattle, loading and unloading areas, workshop buildings, a metal warehouse with a ramp, warehouse buildings, an industrial site, a pumping house, a closed shed, a checkpoint, an administrative building of a service office, boiler equipment; trade stall, commercial equipment, refrigerated showcases, showcase slides, beer installations, food boiler, cutting tables, oven, electric stoves, electric pans, kneading machine, dining tables, chairs, fire extinguishers; banking equipment: ATMs, safes, laboratory instruments; mobile communication equipment; tank truck, gasoline A-92 – 2462 liters; knitwear, footwear and other goods in the amount of 376 names, 1536 pieces;

Property of individuals:

Wells, metal casing, chimney, reinforced concrete floor slabs, second-hand silicate brick, second-hand silicate brick battle; currency exchange notes and change coins issued by the National Bank of Ukraine in the amount of 13 denominations; trade module, non-residential building, non-residential buildings, UAZ car, office furniture, office equipment, office equipment, radiators, furniture, fire extinguishers, telephones; “Prima Dona” tobacco products (5,000 packs).

COVID-19 in the temporarily occupied Luhansk and Donetsk regions

The Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine does not possess information regarding the situation with COVID-19 on the uncontrolled territories of the Donbass and the annexed Crimea.

According to the statistics published by the so-called “DNR”, by 31 August there were 1550 registered and confirmed cases of COVID-19, 740 people have recovered, and 92 have died.

According to the statistics published by the so-called “LNR”, by 31 August there were 646 registered cases of COVID-19, 607 have been discharged from the hospital, and 17 have died.

In the occupied regions of the Donetsk region, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, traditional ceremonies dedicated to the opening of the school year are held on September 1. This was stated by the self-proclamed head of the DNR Dens Pushylin. ‘There will be a full-fledged September 1 – with queuing, bowing, students and teachers. For now, we have no intentions to celebrate 1 September in a distanced format,’ he declared.

On its website, the occupation administration in Donetsk announced celebratory events dedicated to the Day of the City and the Day of Mineworkers.

The main festivities are held on Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30. Traditionally, the main place of the events is the Shcherbakov Park.

And some photos from the events:

On August 25, 2020, on the website of the self-proclaimed head of the “DNR” Denis Pushylin, “Decree” Nr. 292 was published, which introduces changes to the “regime of high alertness”: “from today, residents are allowed to engage in activities of leisure, entertainment, entertainment, cultural, physical culture, sports, exhibitions, education, advertising and other similar outdoor events.”

            Moreover, the “decree” states several changes to the regulation of travelling towards Ukraine-controlled territories.

It is specified that citizens “registered on the territory of Ukraine”, as of 25 August do not need permission from the respective committee to leave the territories controlled by the “DNR”.

Accordingly, on the days specified by the committee, passage of the “Olenivka” checkpoint is subject to the following rules:

• Those who possess a registration on Ukraine-controlled territories can leave the temporarily occupied Donetsk region unhindered. Those without a registration need permission from an interdepartmental committee, subject to declaration of a reason for departure (medical treatment, education, work, nursing, family reunification). Upon departure, people need to sign a declaration that they will not return to the territories controlled by the “DNR” until the epidemic situation improves.

• Entrance to the temporarily occupied Donetsk region happens according to lists composed by the committee, subject to a registration on the territory controlled by the “DNR” and permission from the interdepartmental committee. Reasons for entry are medical treatment, education, work, nursing, family reunification). Upon entrance of the territories, people are subject to a free two-week observation stay in a medical institution of the temporarily occupied Donetsk region. 

This monitoring was prepared with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, in partnership with the German NGO DRA. 

The positions of the authors do not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany.

A review of human rights violations in the temporarily occupied parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions is carried out with the aim of preserving democratic rights and freedoms on the territory of Ukraine.

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