Support for the war against Ukraine has led to the criminal role of key Crimean collaborators in the Kremlin’s war crimes. We have already analyzed the situation in the Russian-occupied areas of Kherson Region, where the self-proclaimed “powers” of the peninsula is actively promoting the position of the aggressor state and violates the rights of Ukrainian citizens.

However, it should be noted that an almost similar situation is observed with other occupied territories of the south of mainland Ukraine, including Melitopol town.

It will be recalled that this city in the Zaporizhia region was occupied by the aggressor in early March 2022. The occupiers almost immediately abducted Melitopol’s Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who took an active pro-Ukrainian stance and refused to cooperate with the Kremlin. He called on the local population to resist the invaders and to protest.

Following his release following an exchange of Russian prisoners, Ivan Fedorov addressed an OSCE meeting in Vienna on March 30 to discuss Ukraine’s threats to Russian aggression against European democracies. He noted that Melitopol was and will remain a Ukrainian town [2].

Today, the town is under occupation, and Crimean collaborators have a special role to play in implementing the aggressor’s plans for this Ukrainian city. Experts of the Associaton of Reintegration of Crimea analyzed the situation in more detail.

The aggressor state in Melitopol pursues tasks that are mostly related to the suppression of pro-Ukrainian resistance, the subjugation of the will of the people and the involvement of the town in the ruble zone.

To solve these problems, the Kremlin uses its “Crimean allies”, who already have relevant experience of betrayal of the motherland. The first thing that was entrusted to the Crimean collaborators is to create an information vacuum in the town. It is reported that from April 1, 2022, optical fiber was brought from the temporarily occupied Crimea to Melitopol to provide the city with “its own Internet”.

It is clear that the town plans to provide a limited version of the Russian Internet, which is unlikely to find the necessary, objective information. The occupiers also blocked telephone and mobile communications. The Kremlin wants Ukrainians in Melitopol to become “loyal citizens” who are used to not thinking, but simply doing what they are told.

However, such a scheme is unlikely to work with Ukrainian citizens, who have become accustomed to freedom of speech and democracy over the years of independence. Also, the temporarily occupied Crimea was given the role of a concentration filter camp in this war. The fact is that about 70,000 citizens remain in occupied Melitopol. Most of them want to leave for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, but the Russian military sends people to the occupied Crimea [4].

That is, the occupiers are deliberately creating such conditions under which it becomes dangerous for the population to move towards Zaporizhzhia controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. Thus, Russia is essentially forcing Ukrainian citizens to evacuate in the direction that invaders want. At the same time, the occupiers are doing everything possible to intimidate the local population and agree to evacuate to the temporarily occupied Crimea.

Recently, the occupiers have begun an active “hunt” for those, who do not obey the Kremlin. They require local housing cooperative’s leaders to “voluntarily” provide information about “fascists”, i/e. Ukrainians who do not recognize the “rights” of the occupiers and obey the requirements of the Ukrainian authorities as the only legitimate administration in the city and region [5].

The occupiers have also abducted activists and bloggers from Melitopol who have a pro-Ukrainian stance and are trying to convey truthful information to the public. There are cases of deportation of such Ukrainians with an active civil position to the temporarily occupied Crimea, where they are “worked” by Russian special services [6].

In essence, the conditions are created when forced evacuation to the peninsula becomes unalterable, as a person has to choose between living in conditions of open terror and humanitarian crisis and living in “gray” territory. This is despite the fact that officially Crimean collaborators pretend to be “helping Ukrainians escape the war” that Russia itself has unleashed.

Of course, this “aid” is imported under the cameras of Russian propaganda, as was the case, for example, with tons of humanitarian cargo, which the Russian military allegedly brought “to help” the local population [8]. However, the Russian media will not show that Ukrainians in Melitopol refused such help from the aggressor. Then the Kremlin mentioned its “Crimean allies” again.

The fact is that the occupiers planned to hold paid rallies in support of Russia, but Melitopol did not betray and did not take the money. Then we had to bring some marginalized inhabitants of the occupied Crimea to the city to imitate such “support” [9]. This is not the only case of importing “grateful residents” who actually have nothing to do with Melitopol [10].

These measures are directly related to the information vacuum created by Crimean collaborators on the peninsula. Crimean residents are constantly told on TV that the so-called “Putin’s special operation” is allegedly the “liberation of Ukrainians”. For example, the fake “speaker of the Crimean parliament” Volodymyr Konstantinov in his statements constantly intimidates Ukraine with “international tribunals” and other “death sentences” [11].

But Konstantinov “forgets” to say that it is from the territory of the occupied Crimea that Russian troops are constantly shelling Ukrainian peaceful cities. For example, on April 1, 2022, the “Iskander” missile system from the Crimea launched a missile strike on the Odessa Region [12]. But Crimeans are unlikely to hear from Russian propagandists about the Kremlin’s war crimes, which contributes to new provocations.

It has recently become known that “personnel reserve specialists” will be sent from the occupied Crimea to Melitopol and other occupied cities. According to Konstantinov, such grief specialists, ie traitors with experience, “should” take positions in the “local government”, which “openly sabotages the calls of Russians to cooperate” [14]. In other words, collaborators must “help” the occupiers create criminal “military administrations” in the occupied Ukrainian territories.

In addition to “personnel assistance”, Crimean collaborators provide “apartments” for meetings of some non-numerous traitors of Ukraine with representatives of the Kremlin. Thus, on March 22, 2022, the occupiers held a so-called “government summit of powers and business” in the Crimea’s Dzhankoi town, the criminal purpose of which was to “legitimize” the occupying “powers” in the Ukrainian territories. First of all, there was the discussion of traitors and representatives of the Kremlin on “management schemes” in the occupied cities, mechanisms for transferring payments in rubles and the issue of fake “humanitarian corridors” to the Crimea [15].

Regarding the latter issue, there are risks of restricting the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens. According to available data, the occupiers confiscate Ukrainian documents from people who left Melitopol for the occupied Crimea and carry out forced “registration” with the issuance of a “certificate of asylum in Russia”. It is also known that the occupiers have already formed quotas for the placement of “Ukrainian refugees” in the regions of Russia, and mostly in remote regions, with underdeveloped infrastructure and difficult climatic conditions [16].

In fact, Russia plans to populate its own depressed regions at the expense of Ukrainians and use their labor to develop industry in these areas. Such a plan is criminal, because it is not about asylum, but about forced deportation. These are completely different things, because the shelter involves the creation of appropriate living conditions and the voluntary nature of resettlement.

Upon entering the territory of the occupied peninsula, the citizens of Ukraine face inappropriate treatment and disrespect from the “administration” of the aggressor. For example, the occupiers are deliberately keeping vehicles with Melitopol residents at checkpoints, and citizens are forced to stay in the middle of the field for long periods of time at low temperatures. Displaced persons also complain that they are kept in inhumane conditions, without access to basic goods [17].

It should be noted that when Russian “border guards” on the peninsula take away passports from Ukrainian citizens, they essentially make them powerless and complicate their ability to travel through Russia to European countries [18]. This is a conscious policy, because Russia is used to making people hostages who are deprived of any right to vote and are forced to submit to the occupiers. This is what they have been doing since 2014 in the Crimea and Donbas.

Now the aggressor’s desire to pursue the same policy towards the citizens of other occupied Ukrainian territories is obvious. Moreover, the Mission of the President of Ukraine in Crimea says that the “certificates” issued by Crimean collaborators to Ukrainians have no legal force. At the same time, even a “normal” certificate of asylum in Russia does not prove identity, and it is not a document at all [19].

This proves once again that the Kremlin does not care about the fate of Ukrainians, its own interests and priorities are important to it, and above all cheap and forced labor, and actually Ukrainian territories, which are assigned the function of buffer zones. In order to achieve this goal, the occupiers are constantly blocking the “green corridors” and disrupting agreements on the evacuation of Melitopol residents to Zaporizhzhia. That is why the Ukrainian authorities are constantly asking citizens to refrain from leaving for the occupied Crimea. It can be noted that Russia uses the citizens of Ukraine in Melitopol as an argument for political pressure on the Ukrainian authorities.

It is worth mentioning the more cynical statements made by Crimean collaborators. In particular, the Russian media note that refugees from Ukraine will be transported not to the Crimea, but to the regions of the aggressor state because they are soon waiting for the “tourist season” in the occupied peninsula. The occupiers in the Crimea are waiting for the maximum occupancy of hotels and sanatoriums, because as a result of sanctions “most Russians can not go on vacation abroad” [20].

In other words, for the self-proclaimed “powers” of the Crimea, the main priority is Russian tourists, not displaced persons from the territory where the fierce war continues. By logic, it is not difficult to understand that the Kremlin needs Ukrainians in those regions, where there is always frost and snow, and the connection with the mainland is only in winter, when rivers freeze. This is the key paradox of Russia, which at the same time wants to “combine” those things that a priori do not combine: aggression and “help”.

Thus, it is a matter of the Kremlin creating an “alternative humanitarian reality” in which the citizens of Ukraine do not feel saved from the war, but humiliated and disenfranchised. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who have been forced to leave Melitopol and other occupied Ukrainian cities have already found themselves in this “reality”. The illegal “powers” of the temporarily occupied Crimea plays a key role in creating such a “reality”.

But there is one more thing in this story that we want to dwell on separately. The fact is that after the occupation of Melitopol, the Russian military illegally appointed self-proclaimed “mayor” Galina Danilchenko, who is part of the local branch of the pro-Russian party [22]. This person has already “distinguished” himself by banning the issuance of Ukrainian humanitarian aid to Melitopol residents. She gave the “order” to block the Ukraine’s humanitarian aid on the territory of the fire department, which deliberately aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the city [23].

It must be assumed that in this way she wanted to force the local population to take “help” from the Russian military. As it became known, Danilchenko is in fact a man of the ex-People’s Deputy from the “Party of Regions” Yevhen Balytsky and headed his bearing plant in Melitopol. Balitsky also essentially gave Russia the opportunity to illegally broadcast Russian channels in Melitopol. It should be noted that the former regional communicates with representatives of the Kremlin on the “management” of the town and resolves “current issues” related to the illegal actions of the occupiers.

This person was chosen not by chance, and most likely in advance, because Baletsky has a restaurant business on the occupied peninsula, and his son has already received “Russian citizenship” and even now goes to sea on his own yacht under the Russian flag. There is also information that in his catering establishments in the occupied Crimea, Baletsky provides discounts to Russian servicemen involved in civilian killings and other war crimes.

It can be assumed that it is from the peninsula that such collaborators are coordinated, who have maintained strong pro-Russian ties, which today do not play in Ukraine’s favor. It is obvious that during the years of occupation of Crimea, the Kremlin not only turned the peninsula into a military base, but also methodically established ties through Crimean traitors with the political pseudo-elites of some Ukrainian cities who were not lustrated for promoting “Russian world”.

Despite this, Melitopol residents continue to actively oppose the occupiers, going to rallies and refusing Russian “humanitarian aid”. In their appeals, they emphasize that they do not need help from the invaders, but do believe in the liberation of their town by the Armed Forces of Ukraine as soon as possible [25]. Probably the Kremlin was not ready for this, because for some reason it expected “assistance” from the local population of Ukrainian regions.

Thus, Crimean collaborators are not observers of the aggressor state’s war crimes in Ukraine, but they have become active accomplices in the crimes of aggression, genocide of the Ukrainian people and war crimes, particularly in occupied Melitopol.

It is not just about using the occupied peninsula as a military base and a springboard for an attack, but about conscious ideological support for the occupiers’ actions, which is to promote Russian propaganda in Ukrainian territory.

The self-proclaimed “authorities” of Crimea are also guilty of systemic violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens, as forced evacuations and inhumane conditions of treatment are gross violations of international humanitarian law in the context of warfare. Facilitating the aggression of a terrorist state will inevitably receive its legal assessment in international tribunals in the near future.

Despite the occupation, Melitopol remains a Ukrainian town, as it is possible to temporarily seize the territory and the national consciousness of Ukrainian citizens will not be occupied.

Sources:

1. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/03/11/7330433/

2. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3444502-ak-okupanti-dusat-ukrainskij-melitopol.html

3. https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/04/1/7336268/

4. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-regions/3445424-vorog-ne-dae-viihati-z-melitopola-ludej-vidpravlaut-lise-v-krim.html

5. https://news.liga.net/ua/politics/news/v-melitopole-voyska-rf-nachali-ohotu-na-nesoglasnyh-s-okkupatsiey-ischut-gde-jivut-fashisty

6. https://www.dw.com/uk/aktyvistka-z-okupovanoho-melitopolia-u-misti-shchodnia-vykradaiut-liudei-a-61237400/a-61237400

7. https://www.c-inform.info

8. https://www.c-inform.info

9. https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/03/26/7334828/

10. https://ru.krymr.com/a/rossiya-ukraina-voyna-krym-propaganda-konstantinov-sud-gaaga/31773834.html

11. https://www.ostro.org/

12. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-odeshchyna-rf-obstril/31781871.html

13. https://ru.krymr.com/a/rossiya-ukraina-voyna-okkupatsionniye-administratsiyi-chinovniki-iz-kryma/31775979.html

14. http://1news.zp.ua/ru/segodnya-kollaboranty-iz-melitopolya-i-berdyanska-vstretyatsya-s-predstavitelyami-ministerstv-rossii-v-okkupirovannom-krymu/

15. http://1news.zp.ua/ru/okupanti-ne-dozvolyayut-melitopolczyam-vi%D1%97hati-z-mista-i-vidpravlyayut-lyudej-lishe-do-krimu/

16. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-crimea/3443150-ukrainciv-z-timcasovo-okupovanih-teritorij-vivozat-do-krimu-sob-vidpraviti-u-regioni-rf.html

17. https://krymsos.com/yak-zustrichayut-okupanty-ukrayinskyh-bizhencziv-v-krymu/

18. https://vesti.ua/

19. https://economics.segodnya.ua/ua/economics/enews/otbirayut-pasporta-i-vydayut-falshivye-svidetelstva-chto-zhdet-ukrainskih-bezhencev-v-krymu-1610127.html

20. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/04/1/7336390/

21. https://ua.krymr.com/a/yak-u-krymu-opynylysia-ukrainski-bizhentsis-i-chto-na-nykh-chekaie/31779174.html

22. https://www.youtube.com/

23. https://hromadske.ua/posts/deputatka-yaku-okupanti-priznachili-keruvati-melitopolem-zaboronila-vidavati-gumdopomogu-mer

24. https://hromadske.ua/posts/biznes-ukrainskih-deputativ-v-aneksovanomu-krimu 25. https://mig.com.ua/ria-melitopol-sprijannja-ne-potrebuiem