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Checkpoints on the border with Crimea are in need of modernization, say human rights defenders

Checkpoints on the border with Crimea are in need of modernization and proper conditions for the crossing of the border by citizens and housing of centers for administrative services near the checkpoints. Activists voiced this conclusion after the press tour “On the road to Crimea” during a press briefing hosted by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

In the course of the press tour, representatives of the press and civil society inspected two checkpoints – Chaplynka and Kalanchak. “We saw how long it actually takes to pass a checkpoint, we experienced firsthand what people that come to administrative services centers with their problems must feel, and what expenses are necessary to solve their problems,” told Olexander Pavlichenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

Olexander Pavlichenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Olexander Pavlichenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

The first issue that the activists studied was how convenient it is to visit the centers for administrative services. “Our first recommendation is to open the centers as close to the checkpoints as possible, preferably right next to them, or at least in cities located no farther than 50 kilometers from the checkpoints,” said Olexander Siedov, analyst of the Crimean Human Rights Group. At the moment the closest center available to citizens from temporarily occupied Crimea is in Kherson, 80 kilometers away from the checkpoint.

Olexander Siedov, analyst of the Crimean Human Rights Group
Olexander Siedov, analyst of the Crimean Human Rights Group

Checkpoint modernization projects will have to provide for medical care facilities, mother’s rooms, drinkable water facilities and washrooms. Right now most checkpoints lack such accommodations.

A survey will be conducted at the checkpoints to learn the opinions of citizens crossing the border. “Our colleagues from the Ministry of Occupied Territories and IDPs of Ukraine left questionnaires at the checkpoints, a voluntary secret polling will last for a month, after which we will announce the results. Members of border control will be offering people crossing the border to fill out those forms,” shared Tamila Tasheva, Crimea SOS coordinator.

Tamila Tasheva, Crimea SOS coordinator
Tamila Tasheva, Crimea SOS coordinator

Checkpoint modernization projects, such as establishing service zones and creating conditions for the provision of administrative, banking and notarization services were developed and approved by appropriate bodies last year. However, the budget for 2018 allocates no funds on these projects. “Nevertheless, this year a discussion already took place, headed by Ukraine’s First Vice Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv, during which it was agreed that financing checkpoint modernization is necessary,” told Sergiy Mokreniuk, head of the Administration on the Issues of Crimea and Sevastopol at the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories.

Sergiy Mokreniuk, head of the Administration on the Issues of Crimea and Sevastopol at the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories
Sergiy Mokreniuk, head of the Administration on the Issues of Crimea and Sevastopol at the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories

Tamila Tasheva noted that with funding available, modernization can be finished in 3 months. “Currently changes occurred at the level of regional authorities funding and initiatives by the border service, but we believe that the issue of checkpoint modernization should be a priority for the Ukrainian Government,” stressed Tamila Tasheva.

Viktoriya Mozgova, prosecutor, Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea
Viktoriya Mozgova, prosecutor, Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea

“It is very important to modernize checkpoints as soon as possible, to create conditions that would allow us to prevent human rights violations in these places, and to help us document violations against our citizens,” said Viktoriya Mozgova, prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea.

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