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Problems of crossing Ukrainian checkpoints with Crimea after the sudden decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

On August 8, 2020, the Government of Ukraine made a sudden decision for citizens to re-impose the previous restrictions in force in the spring on the crossing of checkpoints with Crimea.

Now, according to Ordinance of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 979-r, from August 9 through 30, crossing the border may be allowed subject to the registered place of residence, or according to a narrow list of humanitarian reasons.

People were not informed in advance of such serious changes, and they simply did not have time to enter or leave Crimea prior to the entry into force of these restrictions.

The first problem for people was to obtain the necessary information about the new rules for crossing the checkpoints and consultations from the competent government authorities.

However, after the government adopted this decision, non-governmental organizations (the Crimean Human Rights Group, Crimea SOS, reception of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, April 10) and the representative office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea began to advise people. But first of all, the Ministry for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories should provide consultations to citizens in this situation, since it is in agreement with this Ministry that the permission of the Head of the Border Service of Ukraine is granted to cross the checkpoints on humanitarian grounds. The Ministry published its contacts for such consultations only three days after the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers was adopted.

In the first two days after the start of the new crossing rules, more than a hundred people applied to the Crimean Human Rights Group, who were confused and outraged by this decision.

The situation then was aggravated by the fact that the decision was adopted on a day off, and people were not able to get the necessary advice or approval from the Ministry.

The Ukrainian citizens who applied to the CHRG, spoke about their problems, and sought help from human rights defenders. The following examples confirm that there are many justified reasons for people to enter or leave Crimea.

So, for some of the people who applied, it became a problem to prove that they lived as one family if they did not have a marriage certificate. If the spouses have different “registration” (one – in Crimea, the other – in the Ukrainian government-controlled territory), then they can go together in one of these directions. But the difficulty is that not all couples have marriage certificates to confirm to the border guards that they are one family.

Another problem was that not all Crimean residents were able to register in the controlled territory or issue a certificate of registration of internally displaced person, but in fact they live and work in the controlled territory. In summer, they went to Crimea to visit their parents, but now, in order to return to the controlled territory, they need to collect certificates and other documents confirming their actual residence outside Crimea during the vacation period of the management of enterprises and organizations.

There are many appeals from the Crimean residents who need to cross the checkpoints to get to Kherson or Kiev, since they bought air tickets to other countries (and these are not tourist trips). However, now, for them to get on the plane, it is necessary to document one of the humanitarian reasons indicated by the Ministry of Reintegration for leaving. For example, if people bought tickets in connection with the marriage of their close relatives or the birth of children with close relatives, then they have no reason to leave, because the Ministry has determined that crossing is allowed in case of death or serious illness of relatives in relation to relatives.

The Crimean residents, who planned to leave the peninsula for permanent residence in the Ukrainian government-controlled territory, now cannot withdraw their personal belongings, because the drivers, according to the new rules, have no reason to cross the checkpoint, and they are also not ready to go through self-isolation later with the “Diy vdoma” mobile application.

Several Crimean residents have addressed similar problems – one of the parents in the Ukrainian government-controlled territory is dying due to a serious illness. Their adult children with a Crimean residence permit collect supporting documents for crossing the checkpoint on humanitarian grounds but are afraid that due to such delays they may not be able to see their mother or father at the last time.

The CHRG received the people’s appeals around the clock.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Reintegration issued an explanatory statement on humanitarian reasons for crossing checkpoints. However, these explanations are of advisory nature, not approved by a specific normative legal act. The decision on the pass is taken by an employee of the State Border Service at the checkpoint. People complain that they cannot obtain information from the Ministry of Reintegration about the exact form in which their passage through the checkpoints will be agreed on humanitarian grounds.

The Ministry has published its contacts where citizens can get advice on crossing checkpoints.

— on weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm +380445369241;
— round the clock by short number 1545 or +380442841915;
— by email [email protected]

We would like to remind readers that, on August 10, the CHRG signed an open statement of non-governmental organizations regarding the unjustified restriction on passing the checkpoints with Crimea..

In a statement, human rights defenders appeal to the President and Prime Minister of Ukraine:

  • to publicly explain the reasons for instructing the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to adopt a decision on restoring the restrictions on crossing the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea by the Ukrainian nationals;
  • to approve immediately amendments to the relevant normative acts of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for defining the humanitarian grounds allowing the people to cross the border with the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.
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