To find out what lawlessness is it is not necessary to read fantasies of anarchy classics. It is enough to buy a bus ticket Donetsk-Snizhne. There are no checkpoints - you will leave the state without noticing it. You are in some outskirt town and suddenly notice anarchy. At some point you just realize that you are surrounded by a completely different world, that has nothing to do with the realities of a city, writes blogger frankensstein.
In Donbas, there are entire cities, only formally related to the national territory of Ukraine. Neither the Constitution nor the laws have any real power in them. Such enclaves live by their own rules, and the existence of the Ukrainian state is reminiscent of only money and blue passports. Think I am exaggerating? Then let's go together on a tour to the Pivnichne village, on the outskirts of Snizhne. To the place where the official government was deposed many years ago, and is now ruled by Makhno libertines.
The Pivnichne village is a typical example of what happens to mining settlements - it is dying along with the local mine. Back in 2000, Pivnichnaia mine was considered futile, and soon practically ceased to mine coal. Currently, there are numerous artisan mines whose owners hold the power in the village. The population here has no rights, law enforcement officers ignore their responsibilities, local government remains silent and pretends that nothing is happening. Coal dealers do not hesitate to grab land, rich in coal, digging up the local forest, destroying residential buildings. I had the opportunity to visit many parts of Donbas, but have not seen such blatant criminal dictatorship.
The visit to look at the lawlessness was initiated by the invitation of local residents who sent us an email. Residents of Shushenskaya, Kemerovo, Novomoskovskaia, Koroleva streets complained that an artisan mine is being dug right next to their homes. That's how we turned up in this forsaken land.
Hardly there exists a more desperate place than the Pivnichne in Donbas. Located between Snizhne and Torez, the village is an extremely uncomfortable place to live - there is almost no work, getting to neighboring towns by a shattered road is hard and long. Real estate in the town is worth next to nothing, the population dropped from 17,000 (early 90's) to 10,000 (2012). At the entrance to the village there is a stele depicting a polar bear. The bus stop is called Bear's. "Stop at the Bear's," ask the minibus passengers, and we get off.
Pivnichne meets us with abandoned houses, broken roads, mud and fog. On the roads there is an endless line of heavy trucks with coal. The interval is a few minutes, which means that mining is intense. It becomes immediately clear that the work is not done by state-owned enterprises - they cannot afford this expensive imported equipment.
There are lots of abandoned houses. They start at the beginning of the village, and their number increases as you go deeper in.
The only thing that this place can still give is coal. It is obtained from illegal "holes", and by recycling waste dumps. Old mine waste piles (terricones) are known to contain a large amount of coal that can be extracted at a relatively low cost. In Pivnichne a temporary enrichment plant was built for such processing. It belongs to the Coal Energy SA company and bears the name of Anthony and Theodosius of Kyiv-Pechersk. For the village it is a temporary glimmer in the dark tunnel. When the terricone will be completely reenriched and demolished - the installation will be disassembled and transferred to another location.
Pivnichna mine is quiet. It is shut down but part of the property is leased by LLC Vitren, which, according to local residents, uses the mine as a cover for the extraction of coal from the "holes." Hall of Fame at the entrance is empty - all modern honored miners are known to the villagers without it. They can tell you which artisan mine belongs to whom.
The infrastructure of the mine is dead, along with the enterprise itself. The buildings are still intact, apparently thanks to the tenant. Usually, after a shut down all kinds of canteens and gyms are leveled after a couple of years.
Looking at the miserable, crooked houses and barns on the way, I'm mulling over the myths about high standards of living of Soviet miners, which are still popular. One look at the surrounding buildings is enough to understand - luxury was never here. All these jerry-built shacks were crappy from the start. 20 and 40 years ago. Soviet favelas have changed little over the decades.
Official Soviet propaganda claimed that slums only existed in capitalist countries, such as Brazil or South Africa. In reality, under socialism there were just as many slums. And they only differed from poor Africans and Brazilian huts by being a bit stronger - the climate obliged.
Once on the more crowded streets, we talk to people. We tell them we are journalists. Immediately a crowd gathers around us. They lead us to show the kopanka on Shushenskaya street, that is dug right on the other side of the fence of the residential estates. The mine is developing layers of that closed Pinichna mine. Residents of the neighboring streets are former employees of the mine. They know that coal lies right under their yards. If somebody starts to produce it their homes will destroyed by subsidence.
Previously on the site of the mine there was a building owned by Pivnichna but recently its remains, according to local residents, were captured by local gangster Rafik, a known owner of artisan miners and collection points - illegal points for buying scrap metal. Around the ruins there is a tall metal fence, the place of production has a power line which indicate cooperation with the city.
For a while we walk around the fence and look in, but there is no one in there.
"At first, we wanted to come to an agreement," says one of the women living in the neighborhood. "When the thugs arrived, I went up to them and said 'Boys, you will not be allowed to dig here.' Then one of them said to me, 'listen, do you value your life? We can throw a couple of Molotovs at night and that's going to be it!' Well, I of course closed my mouth."
Story of a local woman in the video:
Residents have long been complaining to various authorities. The city council and the village council know have known about the situation for months but there had been no response so far. The head of the Pivnichna village Viktoriia Shutova confirmed that the fenced plot of land was not leased to anyone, and therefore, the land is occupied illegally. But no one is in a rush to take down the fence, the law enforcement officers do not see arbitrariness, and even the people who occupied the land are even supplied with electricity.
Local officials and law enforcement officers pedal the responsibility to each other. Prosecutors office, the Security Service of Ukraine, the police, city council, Snizhne mayor Doronin all know about the mine. The latter even held a meeting about Rafik's holes. But no response. A total collapse of all branches of government. The local people's only hope is for the fourth branch - the press and publicity.
Right next to Rafik's hole there is one more on the edge of the Glukhivskyy forest. Together with the residents of the village we go straight there with the camcorder. We catch a worker in there. He refuses to answer any questions and hides his face. I videotape the conversation. This episode is an excerpt from a documentary about the village, which I'll post on the Internet soon.
These holes are dug throughout Glukhivskyy forest. Thousands of tons of unaccounted coal profits Donetsk criminals, law enforcement officers and officials. The budget does not receive a penny from these activities. This is how Donbas feeds Ukraine.
As it was mentioned above, there is no state here, there is a self-proclaimed gangster republic, or what the Ukrainian press sometimes calls the "rule of Dons".
People in Pivnichne are worried that if the local authorities do not stop the coal mafia, they will soon turn their streets into the wasteland because of Rafik's holes and other similar things. However, the expression "local authority" has long been regarded as mocking in Snizhne, because if someone holds any power in the area, it is certainly not the elected official and law enforcement officers paid for by the taxpayers.