Beginning of the year in the self-proclaimed republics was marked by a series of high-profile arrests of civilians. Among them there are pro-Ukrainian activists, volunteers, as well as persons whose activities are seemingly unrelated to the active social position.
Inhabitants of the self-proclaimed republics inform that arrests are usually carried out by people in mufti, or in the uniform of "Ministry of State Security of DPR". They come home to the suspect, conduct searches and seize identity papers, money, and "find" confirmation of extremist activity. Then they arrest the suspect for a thirty-day period for the so-called "investigatory actions". Also cases of arresting the persons who have crossed the demarcation line during the verification of passport with an electronic database system installed in check points of DPR and LPR were repeatedly documented.
Alexander Gorbatko, coordinator of "Donbas-SOS" organization, spoke about the situation with arrests in the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and what to do if you or your family member were arrested or abducted.
What is the situation today with abducting in the uncontrolled territory?
- For the last two and a half months reports of missing people in the uncontrolled territory have become more frequent. It is important to note that these reports are not structured as it was before. Before people would apply to the hot lines of public organizations, call in the Ukrainian Security Service and inform on abduction, but today such messages are very rare.
The figure "for thirty days" has appeared in the practice of "law enforcement bodies " of the self-proclaimed republics. Relatives of the detainees say that there will pass checks, there will pass thirty days, and then according to the decision of Donetsk or Luhansk "prosecutor" either a person will be released, or any accusation will be brought to him/her. It is known that on the expiration of this period people get released, and someone even earlier. But there are opposite cases when people are not released at all.
And what kind of people may be "detained"; which is the cause of an "arrest"?
- We cannot understand what the reason to justify this is, and all of our assumptions are based solely on guesses. The wave of arrests that started in late December - early January, is very strange. Some of the detained civilians are those who are directly involved in social activities, i.e. they are volunteers. But the lion's share, of course, belongs to cases with the people who support Ukraine and carry out underground or open pro-Ukrainian activities. People may be also detained for a dissent, because they have become dangerous to authorities of the self-proclaimed republics.
Please, describe the detention process...
- If you are detained at home it means you're have been ratted out. It often happens that this is done by neighbors or relatives. Someone with whom you have communicated, someone with whom you have sworn. Then you are being reported to authorities and they come for you.
The alternative is when you're just detained at checkpoints of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR while crossing the demarcation line. There're now installed electronic database systems: the computers which check for your passport details in the list of wanted persons. We do not know what they are grounded in when detaining people. We also do not know where they get this information. It is strange and yet real.
Particularly, they may detain you and check your property: browse through your phone and tablet, screen any item, check the contents of your bags. And if there are suspicious things such as photos with flags of Ukraine, photos of cities under control of Ukraine (Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk) it may also serve as an occasion to detain you. The alternative is not excluded also that you may be arrested just because you sat next to someone who had some sort of forbidden literature, forbidden things in the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR.
Maxim Prikhodko, "OstroV"
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