Given active military operations within the first months of a full-scale war, the main challenges in the temporarily occupied areas included, in particular, the destruction of critical and social infrastructure, which threatened with a humanitarian crisis due to the absence of light, gas, water, foods, medications, etc. According to the oblast monitoring data, within the first weeks of a full-scale war, the local authorities responded to these challenges somewhat chaotically.
In the occupied territories, there was neither a clear system of governance, nor a clear scheme of subordination and distribution of powers. Leading staff members of the occupying authorities were designated from among mainly those people who formerly acted as representatives of the pro-Russian and Russian- financed political force, Opposition Platform-For Life.
Among decisions of the occupying authorities, the following can be distinguished: preparations for holding sham referenda, issuance of Russian passports, launch of the ‘rouble zone’, re-registration of businesses, compulsion of farmers to obtain permits for agricultural activities in order to oblige them to pay taxes to the occupying authorities, etc.
During the occupation, residents of Kherson, Enerhodar, Nova Kakhovka and other cities repeatedly held pro-Ukrainian actions, proving that nobody waited for Russians there. Peaceful demonstrations were however violently dispersed by the occupiers, while local activists were detained.
The humanitarian situation in the war zone and in the occupied areas was difficult within this period. The first cases of critical destruction of transportation routes, health care facilities, communication failures, problems related to unstable electricity, water, gas, and food supply were recorded.
Limited access to health care services was reported in the occupied areas. The population experienced difficulties with specialised health care because of the evacuation of medical workers. Moreover, the shelling by the Russian militaries was very often targeted at destroying hospitals and other facilities of health care infrastructure.
Since the first days of the occupation, the breakaway authorities used various forms of pressure and terror against heads of the local self-government bodies, ranging from intimidation of officials and threats against their family members to abductions and torture of local self-government leaders.
The population was forcibly deported from the occupied areas to the Russian Federation, primarily from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. For example, the locals could exit Russian-occupied Mariupol and Volnovakha only in the direction of the Russian Federation and the occupied areas, following the ‘filtration’ procedure.
General mobilisation has been announced in the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts since February. Male locals aged 18 to 55 were banned to travel outside the borders of the breakaway Republics. They were simply detained on the street, in homes, or at workplaces and forcibly sent to Russian armed forces.
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