Positive scenarios for the occupied part of the Donbas are unlikely, the region is threatened with desolation. The way it will look like is evidenced by the experience of PMR (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) and the Nagorno-Karabakh
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The situation of people in the occupied areas of the Donbas continuously worsens. The situation threatens to turn into a long-drawn-out unresolved conflict with periodic escalations in the demarcation line, or in the frozen conflict in limbo. Any of the scenarios do not bode well for the local population. Is there a way out?
PMR model. The prospects of life in the area of the frozen conflict may be imagined in part having analyzed 25 years of existence of the unrecognized Transnistria.
The main problem of the region today is the destruction of the economy, experts say. The crisis in Ukraine and Russia has significantly blown on Transnistria. "GDP fell by at least 19% in the past year compared to 2014. Nobody wants to invest in the region, because it is well known that the Transnistrian industry has not been competitive for a long time. Prices for food and utilities have increased significantly; 10% "Putin supplement" to a pension is no longer paid", - says to LІGA.net Moldovan expert on international politics Marian Cepoi.
At the same time, human rights activists note that the human rights situation has steadily worsened since the separatists realized their impunity. "In Transnistria, there is no free access to education and medicine, violated the right of movement, assembly, expression of own thought. There's no free media, and criticism on the Internet is completely suppressed, "- says to LІGA.net Ion Manole, executive director of the Human Rights Association Promo-LEX. In addition, the criminal law in Transnistria provides for death penalty and criminalizes torture.
Experts have warned the Ukrainian leadership of repeating mistakes of Moldova and emphasize that the freezing of the conflict in the Donbas in the present circumstances is a "grossly wrong way."
"Residents of the breakaway region will get used to their position, that there is a circle of enemies against which they must fight back by any means. Moreover, the population of the country from which the region is supposedly separated will get used to it too: that's another area, nevertheless, we will not secure a footing there, and thus we have lost it forever, "- explains to LІGA.net the Moldovan political analyst, deputy director of the Institute for Effective Politics Ruslan Shevchenko.
But the expert believes worst of all is that this idea is promoted by political analysts in Ukraine - as early in Moldova have done: "They urge to leave everything as it is, for 20-25 years; they say, the level of your economy will increase, and thus people from the breakaway region will come to you. Nothing of that kind would be - I want to emphasize this. Transnistria did not itself come and Donbas will not come also".
The same opinion is shared by the human rights activist, Ion Manole. The expert notes that the majority of the population of the region share the views of its leadership. Consciousness and opinion of local residents are formed by the local power and propaganda, they have obviously negative attitude to everything that comes from alternative sources of information.
To postpone a decision with the hope that the problem will be decided in itself in 20-25 years with some conditions: it does not work.
On top of the overall picture, Marian Cepoi assures that even if today Transnistria would get broad autonomy within Moldova, hardly anyone would dare to invest in the region. "There's too much influence and dependence on Russia. Transnistria will not be able to integrate into the EU or join any other union, "- he explains.
All that remains to Chisinau is to maintain the status quo and hope for the sane people in Transnistria which will eventually realize that the region cannot survive on its own and the best solution for it is to integrate back to Moldova. Then the time comes to negotiations.
There is no third option
Ukrainian human rights activists share the position of foreign experts. They fear that in the case of frozen conflict, residents of the occupied territories will live without any guarantees of their protection rights and mechanisms.
"For the people better when the conflict is solved, and not just frozen. What can there be life in the gray area of uncertain status where there is no law, and your property, health and even life depend on the will of a person with a gun? Problems with the provision of socio-economic rights in the region destroyed by war and being under the control of criminals will only increase," - said to LІGA.net the head of the Center for Civil Liberties Alexandra Matviychuk.
These pseudo-state formations have no independent future, because they are not self-sufficient economically. The situation has been complicated in the region today: the legal system is not available, the specialists have left, and enterprises are being stolen. And if in the future Russia will cease to support these quazi-republics financially, the locals should expect even greater tests, considers Vladimir Shcherbachenko.
"Frozen conflict will not lead to the restoration of the quality of life even up to the pre-war level. To make life in these areas more or less returned to normal, and to give the region a chance to develop, it must be a part of a full-fledged state," - adds the expert.
The two scenarios, both the model of long-drawn-out unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the model of the frozen conflict in Transnistria, assume that the situation of the local population will worsen. Nobody can propose a third scenario for the occupied areas of the Donbas. Judging by the experience of the previous wars with Russia, such scenario is unlikely to emerge.
Alena Savchuk for LІGA.net
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