KIEV, June 6. /TASS/. Kiev’s representative to the Contact Group on settlement in Eastern Ukraine, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has dismissed the fact that Kiev introduced a blockade of the Donbass Region, he said, commenting on the statements he had made yesterday on the initiative to lift the economic blockade.
"Donbass is not a subject to the economic blockade, there is only a temporary restriction on transporting goods adopted by the National Security and Defense Council [of Ukraine]," he told a briefing broadcast by the Ukrainian 5 Channel. "There is no economic blockade. Read the decision of the Council and then the decree of [former President Pyotr] Poroshenko. This is a temporary restriction on goods supply across the line of contact. What kind of blockade is that? We are very well aware that hundreds, thousands of people go through checkpoints. Each can carry up to 50 kilograms with them," Kuchma said.
Following a regular meeting of the Contact group in Minsk on Wednesday, Special Representative of OSCE Chairperson Martin Sajdik said that the Group would consider the issue of lifting the blockade in the course of the next meeting. "This proposal was introduced by Leonid Kuchma," Sajdik said. "It was supported by the representatives of specific areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions. This issue will be introduced for the economic subgroup’s consideration next time."
Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko warned that trading with businesses located on the territory that Kiev is not exercising control over will fall under the financing of terrorism article of the national Criminal Code.
Mass protests broke out in eastern Ukraine, mostly populated by Russian-speaking citizens, following a coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014 and President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster. In mid-April of the same year, Kiev’s authorities launched a military operation in Donbass in response. Heavy shelling of residential areas, including the use of aviation, caused large-scale humanitarian disaster in the region. According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the armed conflict and over 20,000 have been injured.
Simultaneously, Kiev introduced a full blockade of the region, severing all economic ties. The Ukrainian authorities stopped paying social benefits to the citizens of the territories not under their control.