The “Milove” Checkpoint is one of the most popular border crossing points among the citizens of Ukraine from the Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA).
When crossing the border, people face several issues which significantly complicate the exercise of the right to free movement, including the lack of adequate conditions and long queues. Therefore, the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) has recently started monitoring the situation at this checkpoint, recording human rights violations and providing legal advice to the beneficiaries.
For many residents of NGCA, the only road to the Government Controlled Area of Ukraine was the road through Russia and the “Milove” Checkpoint. When the work of Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECP) in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts is being blocked by the illegal armed groups in the NGCA, people are forced to spend a lot of money, a lot of time, effort, and health and cover the distance that is three times as long as if they crossed through EECPs.
The history of this checkpoint is complicated by itself. “Milove” is an interstate checkpoint, which from the beginning of operation had a capacity of 500 pedestrians and 200 cars per day. Given the infrastructural features of the nearby settlements, Milove is located between the Russian city of Chertkovo and the Ukrainian city of Milove, literally on the road, and also on Russian territory. In 2018, Russian border guards began to install an iron fence in the middle of Druzhby Narodiv Street, where the checkpoint is located. After that, it was decided to move it and arrange it under a temporary scheme.
Modules for border guards and customs officers are installed directly on the roadway. This means that there are no conditions for people crossing the border: no place to hide from the weather, no benches to sit and rest. That’s what this Checkpoint has always been like.
For the first time, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) raised the issue of the conditions of crossing the “Milove” back in 2016, when the “Stanytsia Luhanska” EECP had not yet been set up as it is today. People choose the long way through “Milove” and spend up to 16 hours crossing the checkpoint. The number of people crossing daily was up to 2500 in 2016. Today, the figures have not decreased significantly – about 2000 persons. Yet, the conditions remained the same as in 2016.
Since then, the R2P has been periodically monitoring the situation at the “Milove” Checkpoint. For the most part, our beneficiaries were the people who were fined under Article 204 and then Article 204-1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. In 2021, about 50 cases led by the Severodonetsk R2P office lawyers were heard in court in favor of the beneficiaries who received fines upon crossing.
For all 5 years, our colleagues prepared reports, carried out advocacy campaigns, and done monitoring visits. This process has indeed been very protracted, but this year the situation has finally begun to change in the direction of improving the crossing conditions for Ukrainian citizens. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is currently negotiating the installment of the waiting modules for people who cross the border through the “Milove” Checkpoint.
Until the new Checkpoint is built, thanks to UNHCR people from the temporarily occupied territories will be able to cross the border comfortably, and the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P), as a partner organization, will start working daily at “Milove” Checkpoint. All the people who need protection and/or require free legal aid can now contact the R2P monitoring specialists directly at the Checkpoint.