On June 12, 2019, festive events dedicated to one of the most important public holidays of the Russian Federation, Russia Day, took place in the Donetsk People’s Republic. By this, Donbass residents once again showed their commitment to rapprochement and integration, unity and fraternity, demonstrated loyalty to the ideas of the Russian world, common historical and cultural space.
June 12 is a special date in the history of Russia, which marked a new stage of development. On this day in 1990 at the First Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR, a Declaration of State Sovereignty was adopted. Every year on Russia Day, the main achievements in state-building are recalled. Also, those who have made significant contributions in the fields of science and technology, literature and art or have shown outstanding performance at work are rewarded. However, above all, this day is a symbol of the unity of representatives of about two hundred ethnic groups living in the Russian Federation who have joined hands in the name of the common goal of strengthening statehood, comprehensive development of the country and ensuring a favourable position on the international arena.
In the context of the coup d’état that took place in Ukraine in 2014, the desire of Donbass to preserve its national and cultural identity and historical memory, to fulfill the cherished dream of living in peace and have friendly relations with the fraternal peoples of the Russian world became the prerequisite for the creation of the Donetsk People’s Republic. In response to the free expression of citizens, the criminal regime that seized power in Ukraine unleashed armed aggression against the civilian population, which killed thousands of people, including children.
Many Donbass residents were forced to become displaced persons, as they have left their homes destroyed in hostilities or located in the combat zone. In violation of the international humanitarian law, armed formations of Ukraine have been targeting civil infrastructure and industrial enterprises, including hazardous industrial facilities, for six years already. This violation threatens the life and health of hundreds of thousands of people and entails adverse impact on the environment. In addition, the Ukrainian side imposed a financial, economic and transport blockade, which negatively affected the social and humanitarian situation in the region.
Official Kiev continues to regard Donbass as a part of Ukraine, but the political decisions and the actions taken are discriminatory by nature and are aimed at the destruction of all those who disagree with the ideology of hatred promoted by the authorities.
Whereas Russia has proved not in word, but in deed that it is not indifferent to the destiny of Donbass. It does not consider the region as just another hot spot on the world map, but as the Motherland of the fraternal people, which especially needs support in the challenging situation. The support included humanitarian aid, which was vital, and an integration programme that has affected a lot of areas, from culture to economics, in which cooperation is increasingly growing, and, finally, a Decree by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin granting the people of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics the right to apply for obtaining the Russian citizenship under the simplified procedure. Special attention should be paid to the efforts of the Russian Federation in the international arena aimed at facilitating the peaceful settlement of the conflict through the Minsk negotiation process.
A representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Contact Group on peaceful settlement in Donbass, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova has repeatedly pointed out that the Minsk negotiation process has no alternative being the only platform where Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk through the OSCE mediation can look for ways of and develop mechanisms for resolution of problems associated with the conflict. According to her, this is of particular importance to citizens on both sides of the line of the conflict with the aim of improving the social and humanitarian situation in the region, ensuring the observance of human rights and freedoms.
In her activities, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic stands guard over constitutional rights and freedoms of people, ensures their protection and monitors their compliance.
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 authorities 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.
On 12 June, executives of the DPR Ombudsman Office conducted an on-site reception of citizens in the administration of Shakhtyorsk. Representatives of the city administration also participated in the reception. In response to issues raised, human rights defenders provided exhaustive explanations of the norms of the current legislation.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 3003 complaints. In the period of work between 8 and 14 June 2019, 8 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 75 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 14 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 12 persons received legal counselling, and 1 person was assisted through on-site reception. 26 written appeals were approved for consideration, 20 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 51 calls were received via hotlines, 6 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 243 appeals, violations in civil law – 319 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 36 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 107 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 192 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 125 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1153 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 579 appeals, other issues – 249 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 14.06.2019
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 – 389 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 44 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 208 appeals, migration legislation issues – 306 appeals, labour legislation issues – 100 appeals, healthcare issues – 97 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 9 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 14.06.2019
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 14.06.2019
- 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 June, as a result of Golmovsky urban-type settlement outside Gorlovka, a civilian man born in 1968 sustained shrapnel wound.
As a result of shelling in Zaitsevo urban-type settlement, a civilian woman born in 1936 sustained shrapnel wound.
On 10 June, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, two DPR servicemen born in 1993 and 1976 sustained shrapnel wounds of varying severities.
On 13 June, in Bezymennoe village, Novoazovsk region, two DPR servicemen born in 1986 and 1981 sustained mine-blast traumas, shrapnel wounds.
Within the period between 7 and 13 June 2019, 6 persons, including 4 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 1 civilian man sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 June 2019, 92 persons, including 63 DPR servicemen, 10 civilian women and 17 civilian men and two children sustained injuries of various severities as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 7 and 13 June 2019, 5 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 June 2019, 88 persons, including 83 DPR servicemen, 2 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 4817 persons 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
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received an appeal on arrest. A man born in 1978 was detained in May 2017.
Based on the updated figures as of 14.06.2019, 252 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 95 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 157 persons 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 14 June 2019, 461 persons 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).
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. 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 the supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
During the period of work between 8 and 14 June 2019, 14 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1077 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7140 persons, including 1743 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, 2397 persons live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 450 underage children, 4743 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1293 children.
- Protection of children’s rights
The protection of the rights and freedoms of vulnerable categories of citizens is provided for in international instruments, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, as well as in legislation of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic pays special attention to this issue in her activities. In the view to ensure effective protection of children’s rights and freedoms by the state, according to the established schedule of visits to child social institutions, on 12 June representatives of the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of living conditions in the state educational institution “Torez Children’s Home for children of preschool and primary school age.” Currently, 26 orphans and children deprived of parental care aged between 5 and 17 attend the school.
Medical personnel look after children 24 hours. In case of need, and in order to conduct periodic medical examinations, medical staff of local treatment and preventive care institutions are involved.
The pre-school education of children is organised in the municipal organization of preschool education “Torez Children’s Home”, and education of school-age children – in state educational institution “Torez School No.24.”
In order to organise leisure time for children, the institution regularly organises cultural and leisure activities dedicated to holidays and memorial days, as well as poetry readings, sports games, contests and competitions. The children attend public events in Torez and other cities of the Donetsk People’s Republic under the supervision of staff of the children’s home.
As part of the visit, representatives of the Ombudsman Office met the leading staff of the institution. They discussed the current needs of the institution for maintenance and medicine supplies. Staff of the Ombudsman Office are going to conduct a follow-up visit to the Torez Children’s Home for children of preschool and primary school age.