Article by: Yana Polyanska
Kyiv – The state claims it cares for combat participants and gives 745 million of hryvnia to cover salaries, compensations and subsidies for them. The Ukrainian state service for veteran and ATO participant issues say that in order to receive assistance, it is enough to gather some documents and enlist in the general registry. However, servicemen from Aydar battalion say that throughout their time in service they have not received any salaries or even the compensation for injury they had been promised.
Aydar battalion fighter under the moniker Dynamit sustained an injury in battle in Luhansk oblast and still uses crutches to move around. According to him throughout the ATO, many of his fellows had sustained injury courtesy of enemy fire, however, they have not received monetary compensation for injury which was promised to them.
“We have many wounded fighters, we did not get salaries, ever. And the guys who got injured did not get money for their injuries. Which is about a hundred thousand (UAH – ed.) on average,” the fighter says.
Human rights activist: the state promises to help combatants, however it is difficult to prove one was involved in battle
The state does presume numerous subsidies and payments to ATO participants, however, in practice, the fighters and their families find it hard to take advantage of them, says Helsinki Union human rights activist Maksym Shcherbatiuk. According to him, one of the major problems is to receive status of combatant and gather the necessary documents.
There is no exhaustive list, however, most frequently, to be considered a combat participant, one has to provide documents proving they belong to a certain military union, medical certificates and expertise, retirement orders. However, as there is no such established mechanism yet, the gathering of all necessary papers turns into a quest of sorts.
“There is a problem that the people who come from the ATO zone don’t have such documents very frequently. And information inquiries to various military units or to the heads of companies do not bring about information,” Shcherbatiuk says.
Human rights activist: women are forced to sign claims their family members died at work and not in the ATO
According to the human rights activist, another problem when documenting combatant status is to determine which Ukrainian territories are considered to be part of the ATO zone, as in some places even neighboring villages are divided by the front line. While combat has been going on for over half a year, the mechanism of assistance on part of the state has not been established yet. As a consequence, Ukrainians don’t know what they have rights to and how to achieve the assistance they had been promised.
“There are quite resonant instances: the wives of MIA workers who died in the ATO zone addressed us. They were summoned to the appropriate headquarters and asked to write a claim that their husbands had died while dying their duty to protect civil order. They signed these documents and therein lies the problem: there is a difference between when someone dies while guarding civil order and in the ATO zone. The amount of appropriate assistance is six times different, appropriate subsidies to combatants, in particular,” Shcherbakov noted.
The family of a deceased combatant can count on 609 thousand UAH from the state
To ensure social protection and inform the families of the fighters on their rights, the state formed a service for veterans of war and ATO participants issues. The head of the service Artur Derevyanko says the family of a deceased combatant can count on 500 minimal living wages from the state, which is 609 thousand UAH. For an injury which makes the fighter a I group invalid, the state gives half as much – almost 305 thousand UAH. Being an invalid of the II group guarantees assistance of 244 thousand UAH, group III – 183 thousand UAH.
However, many of the wounded do not receive the money for their injuries because they don’t want to become officially disabled. Besides, Derevyanko emphasizes, certain difficulties with assistance remain for the fighters who battalions are not part of any institution. According to him, this is the case with the 5th and 9th Right Sector battalions and the OUN battalion.
Some of the servicemen and young men do not want to undergo the procedure to deem them disabled. This means retirement from the ranks of Armed Forces or other military structures. They can not get a certificate of disability, however, the Ministry for Social Protection will give them prosthetics,” Derevyanko says.
What subsidies can the fighters count on?
Artur Derevyanko, when answering Radio Liberty’s questions, said that besides this, combatants can count on a number of subsidies.
“There is combatant status which prescribes a 75% discount on gas, accommodation, free municipal and suburban public transportation. They have the right to 20% discount on the set up and 50% on the usage of the telephone. Those who use liquid fuel or coal in rural areas have subsidies to receive such fuel types. Once every two years they have the right to transport between two localities with a 50% discount by means of river, road, railway and air transportation. Also the right to free medical examination,” he said.
He noted that frequently the people cannot use their legal subsidies because they are not aware of their rights, and because there are not enough funds to compensate the companies appropriately. At the moment, according to Derevyanko, the Ukrainian budget and Reserve Fund plan to give 745 million UAH to such payments, compensations and subsidies to combatants and veterans of war.