“LNR” admits to threat of rebellion due to high unemployment in occupied Luhansk

Idle factory in occupied Alchevsk  

Russia, Ukraine, War in the Donbas

Article by: Andriy Dikhtyarenko

“The factories have stopped functioning, all the equipment has been stolen and exported, corruption and theft are flourishing. The people are desperate and ready to protest in the streets.” This is a direct quote from an open statement by “LNR” authorities on the difficult situation in the city of Alchevsk. The illegal “LNR” authorities now admit that there is a serious problem due to high unemployment in the occupied territory. However, are Luhansk residents ready to organize rallies and protests after being bullied and brainwashed for three years?

Occupied Alchevsk used to be the industrial centre of Luhansk Oblast, but is now almost totally abandoned by industries. The Metallurgical Plant and the Alchevsk Coke and Chemical Plant have been nationalized by the terrorists. Factories no longer release smoke into the air, and lazy cattle graze on their territories.

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 “There aren’t any specialists left. They just sit around without a salary, and are called to work maybe two days a week. They work about eight days a month, and that’s all the money they’ll get. There are no more salaries, advance payments or bonuses. Even such meager salaries are often delayed.” says Ruslan, a resident of Alchevsk.

The catastrophic situation in Alchevsk has forced the “LNR council of ministers” to publish a panicked “open appeal”: the closed businesses are being looted and desperate people are ready to hit the streets in protest. For the first time in four years, the terrorist “authorities” have admitted that rallies and strikes in this occupied region are possible.

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However, Valentyn Torba, a journalist from Luhansk, doesn’t believe such protests will happen in Alchevsk.

“They’ll probably give the people a small bag of small rations to shut them up. I want to underline my statement, because they treat our people like slaves.  So, will they allow them to protest, stage a “maidan”, so to speak? No, definitely not!”

Alchevsk’s unemployed supported by pensioners…

But, perhaps the important enterprises only have temporary problems? Former Alchevsk human rights activist Yuriy Hukov is monitoring the situation. He believes that the plants have stopped functioning for some time now.

“The general director, who worked at the plant these ten to twelve past years, packed his suitcase and left. Now, there’s a temporary administration. But, it’s impossible to deliver raw materials from Ukraine for the plant to operate successfully…. And it doesn’t make sense economically or financially to import them from Russia.”

As strange as it may seem, pensioners are often the only breadwinners for the unemployed in the occupied territory. They usually manage to receive two pensions at once – a Ukrainian one and some kind of assistance from the “LNR”.

Iryna Fedorivna, resident of Alchevsk

Iryna Fedorivna, resident of Alchevsk

“Somehow or other, my husband, the grandfather of the family, still gets his pension and … no, sorry, we get two, in fact, so we’re able to help out!” says local resident Inna Fedorivna.

“My grandson and his wife work at the factory. But, I’ve heard that there will be no work after the New Year. He worked in the railway construction workshop. He recently went somewhere in Rostov to make a few more rubles. They’ve got two kids, so they have to try something. We’re getting on, we’re pensioners, but we still help out.”

Situation in occupied Donetsk Oblast

Neighbouring occupied Donetsk Oblast seems to be in another, more positive situation. Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed “DNR leader” recently inaugurated the Yuzivsky Metallurgical Plant. However, no promises have been made with regard to the export of plant production.

Oleksadr Zakharchenko, self-proclaimed "DNR leader"

Oleksadr Zakharchenko, self-proclaimed “DNR leader”

“First of all, we ensure that our “republic” gets all the metal it needs. If we have a surplus, we’ll be ready to sell it.” announced Zakharchenko.

But, this surprise inauguration can probably be explained by Zakharchenko’s desire to calm the Kremlin, says the head of the Donetsk military-civilian administration, Pavlo Zhebrivsky.

Pavlo Zhebrivsky, head of the military-civilian administration of Donetsk

Pavlo Zhebrivsky, head of the military-civilian administration of Donetsk

 “According to my calculations, Russia spends about three billion dollars to support the “DNR” and “LNR”… and that’s not counting war supplies. It’s perfectly clear that it’s getting more and more difficult for Russia to allocate this money from the federal budget. So, now they’re trying to somehow launch an industrial plant.”  notes Zhebrivsky.

Zakharchenko has even announced the launch of another major enterprise.

“I think that in the near future, we’ll be ready to announce the launch of yet another enterprise, the biggest and most powerful in our area. Well, we’ll just continue working and inaugurating other projects!” announced Zakharchenko.

Will the Stirol Chemical Plant start functioning in occupied Horlivka?

The Stirol Chemical Plant is the most powerful industrial factory in the occupied territory. Donbas.Realii journalists recently visited the city, but saw no smoke coming from the factory chimneys… like in Alchevsk. They talked to a Horlivka local.

– What enterprises are still operating in Horlivka?

– Well, there’s the dairy and bread production factory. As for the rest… nothing’s functioning.

– What about Stirol?

– No, I don’t think so…. Nope. Maybe just one or two workshops, that’s about it.

Idle Stirol Plant near Horlivka

Idle Stirol Plant near Horlivka

Pavlo Zhebrivsky is convinced that it’s highly unlikely that “DNR authorities” will be able to launch Stirol.

“Russia produces quite a lot of fertilizers, and basically competes with Ukrainian producers. So, they really don’t need Stirol!”

In the end, Horlivka residents don’t expect any miracles from the “DNR”.

– So, do you know where all the workers from Stirol have gone?

– We’ve heard rumours that some have gone to work in the same kind of companies in Togliatti (Samara Oblast, Russian Federation), others have changed their place of work.

– Can you find a job in the city?

– It’s difficult, very difficult. Especially for men.

Unemployment or another alternative offered by the occupation “authorities”

Today, total unemployment is the main problem in all the occupied territories. Advertisements and posters in the streets urge former steelmakers and miners to leave their homes and earn their money in Russia.

Poster advertising work in Russia

Poster advertising work in Russia

“There’s no work! People can’t pay for their utilities. They’re forced to leave…. and search for work somewhere in other cities.” complains Ruslan, a resident of Alchevsk.

So, the “LNR” and “DNR” have nothing to fear from their dissatisfied citizens; there probably won’t be any hunger riots as it seems that soon there will be no one left to organize rallies and protests in the streets. The streets will be empty…

“People who had the will to protest have left… Why should they spend the rest of their lives in a dark basement?” concludes journalist Valentyn Torba.

Meanwhile, occupation “authorities now offer their unemployed citizens an alternative way to make a living – they loudly encourage them to enlist in their illegal army…

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: radio Liberty

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