"There are areas along the Donbas front line where no fire has been heard for months, no scouts have conducted searches, no artillery duels have taken place. They are the areas of making money. Caravans of trucks cross them, and the war here is waged by the laws of business.
"Novoluhanske is a village near Horlivka, formally a Ukrainian territory. But in fact, it's a grey area beyond checkpoints of both Ukrainian and Russian occupation troops. It is regulated by Ukrainian laws - local authorities issue IDP certificates, register businesses, and import goods as if into Ukraine. However, there are neither Ukrainian authorities here, nor law enforcement agencies," he wrote.
The situation, Butusov believes, allows for illegal trafficking and shadow financial arrangements.
The journalist tells about one of the largest pig farms in Ukraine, Bakhmutskyi Ahrosoiuz, operating in Novoluhanske. The enterprise hosts 93,000 pigs, produces 20 tons of processed meats daily, pays millions hryvnia to the local budget, and creates jobs - despite being located near the front line. However, most of the pig farm's products are delivered to the occupied territories, Butusov wrote.
This looks like an "absolutely disadvantaged 'offshore' for Ukraine, which enjoys the rights granted by Ukraine but still serves non-government controlled areas," the journalist believes.
"However practical it is to have jobs and operating enterprises [in the Donbas - ed.], Novoluhanske is not just a grey area, it's a black hole in the legal framework of Ukraine, where Ukrainian authorities have no actual powers. Militants are tolerant to it because this is beneficial for them. It is a perfect place for illegal trafficking and shadow financial and commercial arrangements.
"Ukrainian media wrote many times of the Novoluhanske problem and the need to seize it by Ukrainian units. ... Every law enforcement agency and state body is well aware of the problem. ... If not solved, the problem of Novoluhanske will look like a 'rigged game' discrediting the Ukrainian authorities.
"As long as Novoluhanske is Ukraine, it should be controlled by the Ukrainian Army and the National Guard. Having 'arrangements' at the time of war is real piggishness," Butusov summed up.