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Lockdown in Ukraine: How residents of occupied Crimea and Donbas cross checkpoints

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine closed the administrative border with Russia-annexed Crimea to stop the spread of the coronavirus
14:00, 15 September 2020

Unian

Ukraine closed the administrative border with Russia-annexed Crimea to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Until now, the regime of entry to the peninsula aroused the envy of the residents of Donbas, from August 1 it was easy to leave Crimea: there was no need to install the Diy Vdoma application and go through two weeks of self-isolation.

Related: Russia holds 'elections' in Crimea: Ukraine protests, warns about responsibility of all involved

Crimea: sudden ban and queues at the border

June 8, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine temporarily stopped the work of checkpoints on the border of the Kherson region with Crimea. The ban was introduced until the end of August. Earlier, there was no warning about the closure of the checkpoint.

The reason was the absolute anti-record for the daily increase in coronavirus infection, which grew steadily for several days in a row. President Zelenskyy instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to mobilize to prevent the second wave of Covid-19.

So, the grounds for crossing the checkpoint with the peninsula are:

  • submission (with one of the parents) documents for admission to an educational institution;
  • the presence of any confirmation of residence in Crimea or in the controlled territory in the absence of registration of a place of residence;
  • the need to comply with the principle of family unity;
  • severe illness of the face and the need to replenish stocks of drugs and/or receive medical attention;
  • death or serious illness of close relatives;
  • other cases when the situation requires a person to immediately cross the administrative border in any direction (political persecution).

At the same time, after returning, you need to install the Diy Vdoma application. In order not to undergo self-isolation, citizens can present a negative Covid-19 PCR test.

Related: Over 13,000 deceased in Donbas since beginning of combat actions, - UN

If you are not sure whether your situation falls under humanitarian reasons, an explanation can be obtained by calling the representative's toll-free hotline: 0 800 502 192. The Crimean Human Rights Group also provides advice.

The sudden decision of the Cabinet of Ministers caught the citizens of Ukraine by surprise, who were in Crimea at that time, and huge queues formed at the administrative border.

On Sunday night, about 300 people gathered at the Armyansk-Kalanchak crossing from the side of the peninsula to return to mainland Ukraine. Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov stated that tourists and residents of Crimea, who had the intention to visit the mainland on business, were afraid to get stuck on the peninsula.

At the same time, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people noted that the Russian border guards "were in no hurry with the paperwork."

People complained in social media that they stood in line in the open sun, among them there were children, for example, they had to wait from 07:00 to 15:00 to get to the Russian point.

The Crimean Human Rights Group and other NGOs today appealed to President Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Denys Shmygal. Human rights activists believe that restrictive measures on crossing the checkpoint with the occupied Crimea in this way constitute an unjustified and disproportionate restriction of freedom of movement.

The Civil Defense demands to publicly explain the reasons for instructing the Cabinet of Ministers to limit the crossing of the administrative border. Human rights activists noted that people were again not warned, and decisions are made manually.

However, those who need to enter Crimea should also take into account the requirements for entering the annexed peninsula from the Russian side. According to the decree of the Russian government adopted on June 8, 2020, Ukrainians entering and leaving Russia are considered foreigners.

One can enter occupied Crimea for humanitarian reasons, including providing assistance to sick close relatives, for medical treatment, as well as for study or work. When it comes to treatment, those who enter must present documents (or copies) from the host organization or institution. In the case of a trip to relatives, you must have a complete package of documents confirming the degree of relationship.

Related: Children at 3,500 educational facilities face risks due to Donbas сonflict

Donbas

Residents of the occupied Donbas almost could not get to the territory, controlled by Ukraine or to the occupied part of the country. Due to the introduction of quarantine measures on March 22, crossing the contact line was actually stopped in both directions.

The website of the State Border Service notes that people are allowed through only two checkpoints – Stanytsia Luhanska and Novotroitske.

The pass rules for the Ukrainian side and the militants are different.

checkpoint in Donbas
State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

What are the rules for crossing the checkpoint at the official Ukrainian side? The government adopted Decision No. 641 of July 22, according to which self-isolation is not required from August 1.

But the commander of the Joint Forces Operation has the authority to restrict the entry of persons into the temporarily occupied territories. Which is exactly what happened. The day before the changes took effect, new crossing rules appeared:

  • foreigners and stateless persons cannot cross the demarcation line without an insurance policy issued by an insurance company registered in Ukraine, or a foreign insurance company with a representative office in Ukraine and covering the costs associated with the treatment of Covid-19;
  • non-contact temperature screening of the body and interrogation for contact with infected with coronavirus;
  • people are allowed to cross only if they agree to undergo self-isolation, using Diy Vdoma electronic service or observation;
  • the only exceptions are those who come to participate in the Independent Testing.

Related: Trilateral Contact Group agrees to hold inspection of Shumy amid Donbas escalation

Requirements for crossing checkpoints in non-controlled territories

“DPR” militants (from the Ukrainian side this is Novotroitske checkpoint, and from the “DPR” side - “Yelenovka”) let people pass through the demarcation line, relying on the data of the lists on certain days, along the humanitarian corridor. The militants write on their websites that in order to enter the territories not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, a person must submit a request through the website of the so-called "DPR head" and the "operational headquarters" of the militants, and only after their consideration is the answer given regarding the right to enter. Leaving the "DPR" is also not easy - you need to have a residence permit in the territory controlled by Ukraine.

Crossing the demarcation line at the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint is easier. The "LPR" militants let out into the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government without restrictions, but they are allowed in by registration or preliminary registration in the list.

Related: OSCE reveals new violations by Donbas militants

July 23, Minsk Trilateral Contact Group agreed to simultaneously open two new checkpoints no later than November 10, 2020. They plan to open checkpoints in Zolote and Shchastya (Luhansk region).

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