On September 7, as part of the exchange of detainees and convicted persons, which took place between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the “35 for 35” basis, citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic were also released. Among them, there were people arrested for political reasons – for their disagreement with the political agenda of the post-Maidan Ukraine, which was aimed at discriminating people on the grounds of place of residence and language, which has led to the outbreak of conflict both within Ukraine and in its relations with Russia. These are people whose “fault” was that they became hostages of the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine or were participants in the tragic events in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa.
Vladimir Tsemakh, a former commander of the militia air defense forces in the city of Snezhnoe, was among those released. The Ukrainian authorities, and, as a result of their information policy, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) led by the Prosecutor-General of the Netherlands, which conducts an investigation without the participation of Malaysia and the Russian Federation, consider him involved in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing MH17 in the summer of 2014 in Donbass. Tsemakh was abducted by the security service of Ukraine from his apartment in Snezhnoe and, bypassing checkpoints, secretly taken to Kiev. The purpose of these actions was to obtain false testimonies from him in the case of Boeing MH17 catastrophe and to make the men a key figure in the upcoming trial in the Hague. These actions are aimed at one objective – to accuse Russia of involvement in the crash of MH17.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the efforts made, as well as for being consistent and having a strong stand, including with respect to persons detained in connection with the conflict in Donbass.
The exchange of detainees is a necessary condition for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Paragraph 6 of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements refers to ensuring the release and exchange of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the “all for all” basis.
However, the Ukrainian side is blocking the process. So the latest exchange between LDPR and Ukraine took place in December 2017 under the formula 73 for 233. Several shortcomings were found after the exchange, such as: the unilateral substitution and removal of persons from the list, and the continuation of the criminal prosecution of persons to be exchanged, and the refusal to return identity documents of the released people.
Based on the “bitter experience” of the Ukrainian side’s failure to fulfill the previously provided guarantees, which still aren’t fulfilled, the Donetsk People’s Republic requires the adoption of procedural decisions in respect of persons to be exchanged.
So, one of the alternative ways of releasing persons prosecuted in the territory of Ukraine is to enact a law that forbids prosecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The law would protect people from prosecution, the same as the Law adopted for people who participated in the events on the Maidan, as well as allow for taking procedural decisions not only regarding the group of persons that they age going to return as part of the exchange, but also citizens who were released earlier.
After a year and a half, during which the work of the Humanitarian Subgroup has been virtually blocked by the Ukrainian side, the new team of negotiators attempted to resume the dialogue on the exchange of prisoners and to develop a legal mechanism for releasing persons at the stage of pre-trial and judicial investigation, and who are going to be exchanged. Representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic also proposed a mechanism allowing for transferring detainees as part of the exchange in line with criminal procedure legislation of Ukraine.
At the last meeting in Minsk, the official representative of DPR Daria Morozova assured the negotiators that the Donetsk People’s Republic had fully fulfilled its obligations and was ready to conduct the exchange. Earlier, Daria Morozova asked the coordinator of the Humanitarian Subgroup, OSCE Ambassador Tony Frisch to report to the TCG meeting on the fulfillment by the Donetsk People’s Republic of its obligations and its readiness to carry out the exchange according to the formula “all confirmed for all confirmed”.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic stated that the exchange between the Russian Federation and Ukraine demonstrated the possibility of an effective dialogue and the exchange between the Republics and Ukraine would be a logical continuation of the release of all detainees, which is provided for by the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Also, the official representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group for the Peaceful Settlement in Donbass called on the participants to continue to work in a constructive manner and to facilitate the speedy implementation of the agreements reached on the “all for all” exchange. This would facilitate family reunification, and it would be a good step towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict, which would facilitate improving the socio-humanitarian situation in the region, ensuring respect for human rights and freedoms.
Upon a human rights violation, the need to restore one’s rights, to obtain legal advice or appeal against actions (omission) of state bodies or authorities, citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in a way that is convenient for them.
Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or staff of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 4741 complaints. In the period of work between 7 and 13 September 2019, 18 persons attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 26 people received counselling by the Appeals department, 2 written complaints were accepted; 8 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 9 people received legal counselling. 6 written appeals were approved for consideration, 12 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 32 calls were received via hotlines, 9 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 451 appeals, violations in civil law – 499 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 51 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 161 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 263 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 201 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1840 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 862 appeals, other issues – 413 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 13.09.2019
Violations in criminal law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary
Social, humanitarian and economic issues
Violations in civil law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 588 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 57 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 346 appeals, migration legislation issues – 515 appeals, labour legislation issues – 166 appeals, healthcare issues – 150 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 18 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 13.09.2019
Pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
Migration legislation issues
Transportation, communication and consumer rights
Labour legislation issues
Issues of education, culture and sport
Issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
The majority of complaints are traditionally received from Donetsk, by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 13.09.2019
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
The DPR Ombudsman’s Office documents cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by the Ukrainian side: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 8 September, in Spartak village, Yasinovataia region, as a result of detonation of a piece of unexploded ordnance, a civilian woman born in 1962 sustained multiple superficial shrapnel wounds to the shoulder, forearm and her face. Another woman born in 1961 sustained fatal injuries.
On 10 September, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1992 sustained a thoracicoabdominal wound and gunshot fracture of the rib.
As a result of provocative fire by Ukrainian forces against Staromikhailovka settlement, a civilian woman born in 1964 sustained shrapnel wound to the right foot. Another victim is the man born in 1999, who sustained superficial shrapnel wounds to soft tissue; he refused from going to hospital.
On 11 September, there was an attack by Ukrainian armed formations during the extinguishing of fire in Petrovsky district of Donetsk. As a result, three employees of the DPR Ministry of Emergencies born in 1958, 1987 and 1983 sustained injuries of varying severities.
On 12 September, as a result of shelling in Yakovlevka village, a civilian man born in 1974 sustained a wound non-penetrating into soft tissue and a born to the upper-third of the left blade-bone; he refused from going to hospital.
Within the period between 7 and 13 September 2019, 8 persons sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, including 1 DPR serviceman, 2 civilian women and 5 civilian men.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 September 2019, 163 people, including 109 DPR servicemen, 20 civilian women, 31 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 7 and 13 September 2019, 3 DPR servicemen and 1 civilian woman died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 September 2019, 139 people, including 130 DPR servicemen, 6 civilian women and 3 civilian men died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4868 people died, including 81 children.
Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
In the reporting period, the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 13.09.2019, 255 people are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 103 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed;
– 152 people whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side;
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic hasn’t received any appeals on missing persons.
As of 13 September 2019, 460 people are considered missing. They could have been taken prisoner in Ukraine.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial commissions in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. They work under supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
During the period of work between 7 and 13 September 2019, 8 people have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to being affected by the armed conflict. There are currently 1078 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 6833 people, including 1669 children have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 77 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 54 of them operate, 23 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2265 people live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 423 underage children, 4568 people live in the housing fund, including 1246 children.