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"They are in no joking mood": 10 tips on how to behave in the occupied Donetsk. Part 1

"They are in no joking mood": 10 tips on how to behave in the occupied Donetsk. Part 1

For many people of Donetsk who left the occupied territory and moved to the "mainland", the question about the specifics of behavior in the capital of Donbas is not actual no more. However, those who want to come for the first time in Donetsk after its occupation, it is necessary to know some nuances that may relate both citizens with a local residence permit, and those who have decided to come there from other regions of the country. So:

1)  Checkpoints.

Passage of checkpoints upon entry to the "republic" is a kind of roulette. If you travel by public transport, this is often limited to the inspection of the bus by some nimble young "republican" who runs the salon with a smile and a gun, and a word of salutation "welcome home" briefly examining the salon while passing it.

But not every time it is rosy. Sometimes the "militants" standing at checkpoints, require men up to 65 years (the age varies) to get out of the bus and carefully scan their passports. If your registration is not local they may require to open your bag and ask about the purpose of the visit. However, locals are not protected from such inspection but special conflicts usually do not arise.

However, back in October of 2014, I could not explain a nuance in my own passport, as a result of which I was tested with regard of some lists in a separate notebook which sometimes occurs now. I can only guess what kind of lists they are and who has been brought in them, but I successfully passed that inspection. Nearly the same should be expected for those who enter into a "republic" on a personal car.

2) Exchange Rates.

It is difficult to me residing in Donetsk to judge how it is difficult now to purchase rubles in the controlled area. But if it is possible you should buy rubles there as in "DPR" the rate is less favorable. Now in Donetsk it is equal to 2.45-2.6 (depending on the points where you will exchange currency), i.e. you will receive 2450-2600 rubles for 1000 UAH. In general, if the amount is large enough it is possible to negotiate 0.5 units more profitable, but you should understood that the rate will still be lower than the average value in Ukraine because that difference is the source of income for those people.

3)  Phone and social networks.

It would seem particulars but should be taken very seriously. Irrespective of the fashion in which you enter the uncontrolled area, your phone must be "clean". In other words, there should be no contacts like "Bogdan Right sector" or "Artyom Major". All contacts should be concise, simple, and desirably signed with one name.

Your phone can be inspected both at the checkpoint, and at any time of your stay in any point of the city by commandant's headquarters officers, "MGB", etc. Do not neglect this simple rule and do not leave even innocuous at first glance contacts that may cause the slightest suspicion.

As to social networks, it all depends on how you are publicly expressing your pro-Ukrainian position before arriving in Donetsk. If your feed is replete with only vanilla posts and Easter greetings you should not worry. But if you have written at least one critical post in relation to "DPR" or held private correspondence in this spirit (which may simply be opened), you should delete your page for the duration of your stay in Donetsk. This is a basic rule for all (so scarce here) journalists from Ukraine with whom I had seen on their arrival in the city. Of course, you should not be too visually known because removal of your page will not save you in that case. It is needless to advertise your arrival as well as to agree on meetings with inhabitants of Donetsk which know you only virtually, especially for your patriotism demonstrated previously.

Implementation of these simple rules will allow you not only to visit the city, but also leave it safely.
Stas Vasin for "OstroV", Donetsk


Please follow the link to read the 2nd part of the story

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