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Ukrainian Officials Turn Access to Combat Zone Into Big Business


The kickback Ukrainians pay checkpoint guards for entry to the eastern territories embroiled by civil war has jumped to 2,000 hryvnia (about $90 US), Ukrainian news hub Vesti reports.

Speaking to Radio Vesti, Sergei Shakhov, a refugee from the Lugansk region and volunteer assisting the internally displaced persons organization Narodna Dovira (‘People’s Trust’) noted that the bribe refugees and their relatives have to pay has reached “2,000 hryvnia.” Moreover, Shakhov noted that people crossing the border face constant rudeness from border guards, while technical and other problems result in hundreds of people and vehicles queuing up at the checkpoints for hours at a time.

Last month, a new system of electronic passes was supposed to go into effect at checkpoints around Ukraine’s eastern conflict zone. Speaking to Oksana Ermishina, the Chairwoman of the Public Committee for Internally Displaced Persons, Kiev’s Voice of the Capital radio station noted that this plan has thus far failed to make a dent in combatting payoffs, with problems in electricity supply, communications, and the electronic badge databases themselves only exacerbating difficulties. Ermishina noted that in a situation of organizational chaos where nothing works as it should, “money talks, and until a clear system of automated procedures exists, corruption will only continue.”