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Coronavirus without borders: How residents of occupied Crimea and Donbas pass checkpoints during lockdown

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine closed the administrative border with annexed Crimea to stop the spread of coronavirus
18:48, 11 August 2020

Entry-exit checkpoints in Donbas
slovoidilo.ua

Over the weekend, Ukraine closed the administrative border with annexed Crimea to stop the spread of 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 special Diy Vdoma (Act at Home, an app used to track people returning from the coronavirus, - ed.) application and go through two weeks of self-isolation.

Related: Minsk contact group agrees on opening two new checkpoints in Donbas

Crimea: sudden ban and queues at the border

Chongar entry-exit checkpoint
censor.net.ua

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

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

You will still be able to cross the border if you have humanitarian reasons:

  • submission by the applicant (with one of the parents) documents to high school or university;
  • presence of any evidence of residence in Crimea or in the controlled territory if the registration of residence is absent;
  • need to comply with the principle of family unity;
  • severe illness and the need to replenish stocks of drugs;
  • death or serious illness of close relatives;
  • other cases when the situation requires the 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 app. In order not to undergo self-isolation, citizens can present a negative PCR test for Covid-19.

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.

Related: Fire in Luhansk region destroyed 10% of forestland; damage makes over $16.6 million

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 said that tourists and residents of Crimea, who had an 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."

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

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 government of the Russian Federation adopted on June 8, 2020, Ukrainians entering and leaving Russia are considered foreigners.

Related: New Ukraine ceasefire agreement officializes Donetsk-Luhansk militaries (Part Two)

Donbas

checkpoint in Donbas
State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

It is almost impossible for residents of occupied Donbas to enter the territory controlled by Ukraine or occupied eastern regions. Due to the introduction of quarantine measures on March 22, crossing the contact line was actually stopped in both directions.

The State Border Service notes that people are allowed to cross Stanytsia Luhanska and Novotroitske checkpoints, which works only on certain days.

Related: People cannot cross Donbas checkpoints due to failure of Diy vdoma app

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 from August 1, self-isolation is not required.

The day before the changes took effect, new crossing rules appeared:

  • foreigners and stateless persons cannot cross the demarcation line without an insurance document, issued by an insurance company registered in Ukraine, or by 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;
  • persons will be allowed to cross only if they agree to undergo self-isolation, using Diy Vdoma app or observation;
  • the only exceptions are those who come to pass the independent testing.

What are the requirements for crossing checkpoints of non-controlled territories?

There are only two checkpoints and each of them has its own rules. Both so-called republics explain the blocking of the work of checkpoints by the fact that Ukraine has a high incidence of coronavirus infection.

The situation at the Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint is better. Luhansk 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 (optional).

Related: Ukraine temporarily suspends operation of checkpoint with Crimea from August 9

The Trilateral Contact Group at a meeting on July 23 agreed to simultaneously open two new checkpoints of entry-exit in Donbas no later than November 10, 2020. We are talking about the checkpoint in Zolote and Shchastya of the Luhansk region. This might slightly ease the situation with the passage of citizens.

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