More than 500 residents of Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region, got together in city center on Monday to protest against the transport blockade of Donbass, launched by radical activists on January 25, Ukrainian 5TV reports on Monday.
“Why should Kramatorsk residents listen to some ‘guest actors’ who have come here and made decisions on what we should do and how our enterprises should operate,” one of the protesters said.
“I believe Kramatorsk must have its say, appeal to the president (Pyotr Poroshenko) and law enforcement agencies to immediately stop this blockade that destroys our country,” he added.
City residents say Ukrainian enterprises are affected by the blockade, which, for its turn, will have drastic aftermath for all residents of the country. “Billions of dollars that will have to be paid for coal will mean growing electricity prices, growing prices of heating. This means that city enterprises will come to a halt, the dollar will rise and, of course, the population will be impoverished,” local residents say.
Protesters are carrying posters reading “Blockade is a road into the darkness. We need guarantees of work, heating and electricity” and “By blocking coal from Ukraine’s east you destroy the country”.
Earlier in the day, a similar rally was held in Kiev-controlled Avdeyevka, bringing together about 1,000 people, including parliamentarians.
On January 25, Ukraine’s so-called nationalist battalions, supported by a number of members of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), blocked railway traffic from the districts of the Lugansk region uncontrolled by Kiev, and a week later – from the Donetsk region.
The extremists said their actions stemmed from the need to fight against smuggling goods allegedly coming with coal, but later demanded an end to all trade ties with the uncontrolled territories (the DPR and LPR).
The Ukrainian authorities so far have failed to take effective measures to lift the blockade of Donbass. As a result, Ukraine has been facing a lack of coal while the DPR and LPR have announced their decision to nationalize local Ukrainian enterprises on March 1 so that they could continue to operate.