In December 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine banned the commercial movement of goods between the occupied Crimea and the rest of Ukraine for the period of occupation. The restrictions also affected personal belongings transfer. Crimeans and human rights activists repeatedly complained about it. According to the appeal they had initiated, the District Court, and subsequently the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal, lifted the ban on transfer of personal belongings. Government officials and human rights activists tell how it works in practice.
Resolution No. 1035
The Government Resolution No. 1035 was adopted in December 2015 and was put into effect in January of the next year. In particular, the first paragraph of the document banned the transfer of works and services from the temporarily occupied territory to the mainland territory of Ukraine and vice versa. However, this greatly influenced the transportation of personal belongings by citizens. The total cost of personal property that citizens could take out or bring into Crimea could not exceed UAH 10 000, and its total weight – 50 kilograms per person. It was also impossible to carry personal goods beyond those on the established list. Among these “unauthorized” goods were, for example, dinnerware and some household appliances, as reported in the publication by “Novoe vremya“.
Struggle for the rights
Following several successful court decisions on similar individual claims, the Odessa Regional Organization of All-Ukrainian NGO “Committee of Voters of Ukraine” and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union appealed to the Kyiv District Administrative Court. In March 2017, the court found the resolution illegitimate. After the appeal was filed and reviewed, on June 14, 2017, the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal abolished paragraph 1 of Resolution No. 1035, which restricted the movement of citizens’ personal belongings between the peninsula and mainland Ukraine.
Obstacles in practice
“Regulation No. 1035 in part one has lost its effect for nearly 10 days now. However, we have recorded many appeals […] on the subject of complete neglect of the court’s decision by the Customs Service. It continues to prevent Ukrainian citizens from taking their belongings out of Crimea”, – said Daria Svyrydova, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The lawyer noted that such actions of the Customs Service may be the result of certain corruption schemes.
Yusuf Kurkchy, First Deputy Minister of Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine, noted that in the near future the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is to adopt the changes to the resolution. “But while the court decision is in effect, there are no obstacles for crossing the border with one’s personal belongings,”- added the Deputy Minister.