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Fuel-hungry Ukraine tightens grip on freedom-minded miners

December 08, 2014, 15:08 UTC+3 KIEV KIEV December, 8. /TASS

The current Ukrainian authorities have imposed an economic blockade on the coal mining Donbas region and do not buy its coal

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Donbas coal miner

Donbas coal miner

© TASS/Mikhail Pochuev

KIEV, December 8. /TASS/. Ukraine will not buy coal from territories not controlled by Kiev, vice-premier Vyacheslav Kirilenko said on Monday, admitting at the same time that country was short of coal.

The leader of the Oppositon Bloc, Yuri Boiko, who called the situation an emergency, proposed to hear a report from an energy ministry official at a parliament meeting on Tuesday "not to look for those guilty of the situation, but to understand how to cope with the peak energy consumption season."

“The coldest period usually begins in January, and we must know what measures the government is taking to solve the energy problems,” Boiko said.

During the discussion, a proposal was also made for the ministry to conduct stress-tests of the energy system to be ready to cope with breakdowns.

The nation is running short of coal. Electricity exports to neighbouring Belarus have been halted, supplies to the European Union have been halved. But Ukraine has nonetheless imposed an economic blockade and a ban on supplies from the new coal-rich self-proclaimed people's republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the country's war-torn eastern Donbas region, local leaders say.

For the government in Kiev will not buy fuel from territory not in its grip, Vice-Premier Vyacheslav Kirilenkov said on Monday, two days after 50,000 tons of Russian coal, blocked on the border, was released to the state's power stations.

All supply problems are being solved, Energy Minister Vladimir Demchishin has assured the government. But the Russian delivery has become an issue seized on by worried administrations in independence-minded Luhansk and Donetsk.

Russia is urged not to supply Ukraine with fuel of the kind Donbass gets from the ground.

Kiev's leader has ruled in a November 15 edit that operations of state companies and organizations in Luhansk and Donetsk regions must come to a stop and personnel, property and documents evacuated.

And the bid to have Donbas bleed out brought a plea to Russia on Monday from local leaders.

“Miners and all the people of Donbass ask the miners and government of Russia not to supply such kinds of coal to Ukraine that Donbass has and that Ukraine bought from the region before last spring,” the chairmen of the local people’s councils in the two republics said in a statement.

“It is necessary to force Kiev to lift the economic blockade, buy coal from our mines and pay for our work. Otherwise, hundreds of enterprises and millions of people will be doomed to ruined and starvation,” they warned.

Contracts were concluded in August to supply one million tons of anthracite fuel. A first vessel loaded with 84,200 tons arrived in Ukraine on October 23, a second with 79,000 tons on October 30 and 85,000 tonnes on November 9.

But it's the wrong sort of coal. And it doesn't burn, frustrated generator plant managers are fuming. “Coal delivered from South Africa does not burn in our power plants. It's a crime and those responsible must be brought to account,” state Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yerema has announced.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Zinevich, director of state enterprise Ukrinterenergo, has been detained.

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