April 8, 2017 - Fort Russ -
The Editorial Board of Cossack Herald - c.e. by J. Arnoldski -
Foreword from J. Arnoldski: Fort Russ is proud to present the first installment of our new weekly series made possible by cooperation with the editorial board of Cossack Herald newspaper, part of the Cossack Media Group based in Stakhanov, Lugansk People's Republic, which we introduced to English-language audiences in February 2017.
The Most Relevant News of the LPR - Cossack Herald
Cossack Herald suggested starting a regular digest or "news round-up" surveying the mass media of the People's Republic of Donbass. In their own words: "Readers outside the DPR and the LPR know little about the processes unfolding in the political, social, and economic spheres of the republics. Meanwhile, a lot of interesting and exclusive samples of information are contained in the republics' publications."
While for now our weekly Donbass news round-ups will mostly focus on developments in the Lugansk People's Republic, we do plan to expand our scope and contacts to cover life in the Donetsk People's Republic.
Without further ado, the editorial staff of the newspaper Cossack Herald presents us with a digest of the most interesting news of the past week's events in Ukraine and the People's Republics of Donbass.
Ukraine faces energy crisis and price hikes
After the President and the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine announced the blockade of the People's Republics of Donbass on March 15th, 2017, coal supplies from the People's Republic of Donetsk and the People's Republic of Lugansk to Ukraine were finally discontinued. Ukraine's thermal power plants (TPP’s) are in fact fueled by Donbass coal. TPP plants in Ukraine were originally created to use the specific grades of coal mined in Donbass. Now Ukraine will have to buy coal from other countries (including countries as remote as Australia and South Africa), which greatly increases the cost of fuel and significantly complicates transport and logistic processes. Ukraine is thus on the verge of an energy catastrophe.
Ukraine’s National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities revised tariffs for thermal and electric energy produced by TPP’s. The price of the scarce coal of the anthracite group or gas coal was raised to 2071-2222 hryvnia per ton. Now, in order to supply TPP's with fuel, it will be necessary to import coal at global prices, namely at $70.48 per ton, plus the cost of transporting the coal to Ukrainian ports ($ 9.84 per ton) and transshipment in the port ($ 7.19 per ton).
In connection with the increase of purchasing prices for coal, the National Commission raised the tariffs for electric power produced in some thermal power stations starting April 1st, 2017. The price is to be raised from from 9.2% to 22.7%. The thermal energy covering the population’s needs will also rise in price starting July 1st, 2017, from 9.6% to 71.4%, depending on the specific TPP. Meanwhile, Ukraine will be waiting for its first coal deliveries from South Africa in May.
Wages in the Lugansk People's Republic
Against the background of the imminent increase in electricity prices for Ukrainian consumers, the minimum wage in the LPR is planned to be raised.
The Finance Minister of the People's Republic of Lugansk, Evgenij Manuilov, announced that in the second quarter of 2017, the minimum wage will be raised in the Republic. The Finance Minister of the LPR said that the estimated budget for the second quarter of 2017 is ready and waiting to be signed off on, but it is still unknown just how much the minimum wage will increase.
At the moment, the minimum wage in the LPR is 2,900 rubles. This is going to be the second increase of the minimum wage in the Republic. On November 1st, 2015, it was set at 2,756 rubles, and on September 1st, 2016 it rose to 2,900 rubles.
For our part, we should add that this minimum wage is, of course, very low. But this is largely offset by low prices for utilities. For example, the cost of gas for an individual consumer in the DPR and LPR is 7 (!) times cheaper than in Ukraine. Electricity and fuel are cheaper as well. Most goods in the Republics of Donbass are also cheaper than in Ukraine. In addition, there is a humanitarian aid system in the People's Republics covering the provision of monthly commodity assistance to families with young children (up to 3 years old), including sets of food for infants and hygiene-related products. We hope to talk about this in more detail in one of the next issues of our digest.
The People's Republics of Donbass also try to provide assistance to their people who ended up on the territories of the DPR and LPR that are temporarily occupied by Ukraine. To recall, on February 17th, 2017, the head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, approved a program of humanitarian assistance for compatriots living in the Ukrainian part of Donbass. The main goal is to support the socially vulnerable inhabitants of the region. A little later, the initiative was supported by the head of the LPR, Igor Plotnitsky.
The first veteran of the Great Patriotic War, who lives on the territory of the Lugansk region controlled by Kiev, received a one-time monetary aid package from the LPR on Victory Day. This was announced by the Acting Deputy Chairman of the LPR’s Council of Ministers, Alexander Drobot. Earlier, the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Lugansk had adopted a resolution to provide a one-time payment of 9,000 rubles (which equals roughly 3.5 monthly salaries in Ukraine) by May 9th to veterans living both in the Republic and on the territory of Lugansk region controlled by Kiev. However, the Acting Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers specified that only 30 people from the territory controlled by Kiev applied for consultations on the one-time assistance payment.
In other words, Ukraine has not only refused its social obligations towards its population in the Republics of Donbass, but does not even provide for those living on the territory controlled by Kiev. Support for veterans from Ukraine is thus provided by Russia and the People's Republics of Donbass.
LPR passports soar in popularity
Meanwhile, the number of applications for LPR passports has more than doubled since Russian President Vladimir Putin's decree on recognizing the Donbass Republics’ documents, Lugansk Interior Minister Igor Kornet has reported. The head of the Migration Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the LPR, Andrei Golodok, specified that law enforcement officers are coping successfully with the load that has since doubled.
"If we take from the beginning of February 2017 to approximately one week ago, about 700 of our compatriots applied for the issuance of a LPR passport, and about 1,600-1,700 of our countrymen are applying to passport offices," he explained.
Let’s recall that at the end of February of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the Russian Federation recognizing the documents and license plates issued to citizens of Ukraine and stateless persons permanently residing on the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk and certain territories of Ukraine.
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