Kyiv, February 10, 2016. As part of the “exemplary district” of USAID program ”RADA”, a group of MPs from the interfactional union ” EuroOptimists” visited Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
According to Svitlana Zalishchuk, MP (“Petro Poroshenko Block” faction), there are still some separatist sentiment on the government-controlled territories of Donbas, in some localities local elections brought to power representatives of the previous regime. Among the most serious economic and social aspects is non-payment of “compensation” for housing destroyed during the fighting. Only in Luhansk region there are 7,000 such buildings. In addition, Ms. Zalishchuk noted the critical issue of low salaries for employees of government departments and law enforcement agencies, who moved to government-controlled territories and from scratch set up the necessary departments, including regional military and civil administration. Also, social and cultural activities in the region are declining. Ms. Zalishchuk focused on the importance of Ukrainian television in the occupied territories and the “gray zone.” According to her, a required capacity transponder will be launched in May.
“Our effort and ability to restore normal life in Luhansk and Donetsk regions in our territories will show if we can return Donbas as part of Ukraine,” she said.
Oleksiy Ryabchyn, MP (“Batkivshyna” faction), said that for small towns of Donetsk region such attention on the part of MPs is a very unusual occurrence. “We should fight for the hearts of the people, not for territories,” he stressed. Oksana Yurynets, MP (“Petro Poroshenko Block” faction), added that had the deputies traveled to these areas and talked to people before, we would not have this situation in the east today. According to her, a number of pressing issues were solved right there.
According to Viktor Lyakh, President of East Europe Foundation and Executive of the program “RADA”, the main objective of the program is closer contact of MPs with people’s problems and issues, as well as the efficiency and transparency of their communication. He is convinced that the important point is to provide people in the east with most convenient access to administrative services, support small businesses and convert people’s activity to professionalism. According to Igor Kohut, Director of USAID program “RADA”, it is important to repeat such a trip in a few months and to report what was done. “They took a lot of interesting and important commitments. Now they have to work in a homework mode,” he said.