Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Donetsk People's Republic

Interview with Natalia Nikonorova about the situation with the checkpoints’ operation in Donbass

01 July 2020
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On July 1, Head of the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Natalia Nikonorova, granted an interview to the Donetsk news agency, in which she answered the most pressing questions about the situation with the checkpoints’ operation in Donbass.

- What contributed to the decision to resume the checkpoints work on the demarcation line?

- The issue of organizing the crossing through the checkpoints was initiated by us two months ago during Minsk talks. We sent our proposals to Ukraine through the OSCE in advance, however, instead of any response, Kiev suddenly unilaterally opened one of the checkpoints. These activities of Ukraine on June 10 are another provocation and mockery of people. Flouting the rights and neglecting the health of citizens, Kiev released residents in the hours of burning sun to the "gray zone".
Later having worked out the order in terms of comfort and sanitary and epidemiological requirements and choosing the checkpoint with the highest capacity ("Elenovka"), having notified all international organizations and the Ukrainian side in advance, the authorities of Republic decided to organize the process of passing people in an appropriate manner. It was decided to open checkpoint first to leave - from June 22, and later – on June 25 - it was possible to enter the Republic within the humanitarian corridor.
Taking into account the complexity of the situation in the Ukrainian territory with coronavirus infection, we went to this necessary measure. But in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the DPR, all citizens who entered had to undergo a mandatory two-week observation.

- Why it was decided to suspend the pass of citizens?

- This decision was made solely for reasons of maintaining epidemiological stability, which, unlike Ukraine, is in our Republic under control. On June 26, in Ukraine, antirecords were broken for infected coronavirus detected per day. In a situation where even the Ukrainian authorities themselves admit that the second wave of this disease is gaining strength in Ukraine, we cannot risk the health of our residents.
It should be noted that on Thursday, June 25, the Republic opened a pass to the territory for citizens who submitted documents and were approved for a pass by the Interagency Operational Headquarters to prevent the delivery and spread of coronavirus infection in connection with their life situations.

- How did Kiev react?

- Despite the stipulated conditions, the Ukrainian side passed over in our direction people who were not on the approved lists. Nevertheless, we passed these citizens into our territory and placed them in medical institutions for observation, putting humanity in the first place, unlike our opponents. On Friday, June 26, Ukraine continued to pass over everyone in Republic’s direction, although we have repeatedly stated that the “entry to the DPR” regime will be implemented only within the humanitarian corridor on June 25. Moreover, in the evening, having closed the borders, the Ukrainian military, according to information from employees of international missions, threatened to open fire in case of any movement in their direction, preventing people from returning.

- We know that Donetsk nevertheless allowed these people to enter its territory...

- As a humanitarian gesture, the Donetsk People’s Republic secured access to its territory for these citizens who suffered because of the irresponsible position and indifference to the Donbass people from the state of Ukraine. In a fast-track manner the Ministry of Emergency Situations deployed a place to accommodate all those in the gray zone, provided food, medical assistance, and created the necessary conditions so that citizens arriving on June 25 and 26 would not have contact with each other - to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

- How do you evaluate the actions of Ukrainian authorities?

- Such inhumane actions of Kiev created a threat to the life and health of more than 50 people. Ukraine ignores all our proposals for interaction and coordination of steps, instead it carries out provocations, and its local representatives behave extremely unpredictably. It can cause negative consequences for the health and life of our citizens.
Once again, I focus on the fact that we cannot take such risks for the Donbass population. Based on security considerations, maintaining sanitary and epidemiological stability, and also avoiding the repetition of the terrible situation at the Elenovka checkpoint on June 26, which was caused by Kiev, the border with Ukraine will be closed until the sanitary and epidemiological situation normalizes.

- Did Kiev answer anyhow?

- Official Kiev and its representatives remain silent, completely ignoring the humanitarian aspects and needs of Donbass residents.

- What steps will the DPR take to resolve the situation? Is it planned to open new humanitarian corridors?

- Realizing the need to take steps to ensure the rights of citizens in difficult situations, the DPR authorities are developing alternative mechanisms that will allow safe passage for people wishing to pass through the checkpoints in the absence of coordination of such mechanisms with Kiev in a safe mode for the sanitary and epidemiological situation in the Republic.
We are well aware that there are a number of very urgent and respectful circumstances when citizens really need to cross the border. For such cases, the Interdepartmental Headquarters for the prevention of coronavirus continues to consider applications and compile lists of priority passes through the checkpoints for certain categories of citizens. So, the right to be included into the list is uphold by the presence of one of such grounds as undergoing treatment in the DPR territory, undergoing education or workin the Republic, the need to take care of a sick person, reuniting with a family living on the other side of the contact line.

- How to get permission to enter the Republic?

- To obtain permission to cross the checkpoint, you need to collect the necessary package of documents and submit it to the Interdepartmental Headquarter. This can be done through the website of the DPR Head in the “Contact” section, through the Healthy Movement Headquarter, by sending documents to the email address, or through the Telegram channel “DPR: Coronavirus Prevention Headquarters” @ShtabDNR_bot.
After collecting all the necessary documents in each case and reviewing them, the headquarters decides to include citizens in these lists. In the near future pass will be carried out for those wishing to enter our territory after a decision is made on the organization of the next humanitarian corridor through checkpoints.