Russian proxy forces in Donbas "officially" seize homes of Ukrainians who fled from war
The so-called "Donetsk People’s Republic" are wrongfully seizing apartments and claiming the act is "justified" after property owners fail to respond to "summons."
In many of the cases, the apartments are owned by Ukrainians who moved from the temporarily occupied territory and who would face risk of imprisonment (or worse) if they returned, the Kharkiv Human rights Protection Group wrote.
Some 1.5 million Ukrainians are known to have fled their homes amid Crimea annexation by Russians who also launched the war in Donbas. For most of the internally displaced persons, life has been challenging, and many would sell their homes in the occupied territory if they could despite ridiculously low prices and high risk to lose everything. Some fear the move to sell real estate to militants would have negative consequences once the occupation is over.
Online Debaltsevo has posted a screenshot of a "court summons" effectively used to grab a family's property. The summons, signed by Olena Kirichenko, orders that they appear before a "court hearing" and explain to the judge why they should not be stripped of property rights. The whole matter dwells around the notion that for the past six months, the family have not resided in the apartment "without good grounds".
If the family fail to turn up, their property shall be "confiscated," the court rules.
Rights activists note that despite the fact that it remains unclear why the particular family left their hometown of Snizhne in Donetsk region, the agency is aware of a few Ukrainians who have been detained, tortured, and imprisoned on their return.
The so-called Luhansk and Donetsk "republics" are known to be holding over 100 hostages; however, the real figure could be much higher since many relatives are afraid of reporting the fact not to "make things worse."
Dzerkalo Tyzhnya clearly believes that a certain number of such "court rulings" greenlighting property seizure have already been handed down. The newspaper notes that, as a rule, flats are taken from those people who cannot go back to the occupied territory because of their open political views or public activities in the government-controlled territory.
These are not isolated incidents, the report says. In the case of the four people cited in the Snizhne ‘ruling’, this proved to be the family of a law enforcer who serves in the government-controlled territory, meaning that both he and his family would be in danger if they returned. The family reacted calmly to the news that their home had been seized, saying that on their return after Snizhne is liberated, they will throw out those who moved in illegally.
Radio Svoboda’s Donbas.Realii reported the appropriation of two flats in the center of Donetsk back in August 2018, with 10 others in that same apartment block having been "confiscated" earlier, in March. The block in question, Kirylo Sazonov, a political analyst from Donetsk explained, had been built recently for local police chiefs. It was therefore safe to assume that the new "official" method of appropriation would work since the flat owners would not react to "summonses".
In fact, militants from the so-called "DPR" and "Luhansk people’s republic" have been seizing thousands of flats and homes which their owners had been forced to abandon starting 2014.
In 2017, "LPR authorities" reported that they were taking "control" of empty flats as part of the "inventory" routine. If the flat was declared empty, they would dispose of it as they saw fit, with analysts assuming that many of the flats would be used to house people coming in from Russia.