Coal mines in Ukraine could close as fighting continues – by Sam Dodson (World Coal – June 24, 2014)

As fighting continues between Ukrainian military forces and pro-Russian separatists, coal mines in the country face possible shutdowns, according to DTEK, Ukraine’s largest mining and power group.

Months of hard fighting

The insurgency in the largely Russian-speaking east erupted in April after street protests in the capital Kiev toppled the Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich. Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and the West has accused Russia of supporting the insurgency.

Following months of hard fighting, on Monday 23 June, pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Borodai said the separatists would observe a ceasefire for five days. However, attacks on both Ukrainian military forces – and on civilians – were reported as recently as the 22 June.

With the continued fighting, the country’s resources have been threatened repeatedly. DTEK issued a statement a day after the separatists attacked its Komsomolets Donbassa, one of the largest coalmines in Ukraine, detaining the coal mine’s top management and confiscating assets, including coalminers’ monthly pay, 22 vehicles and office equipment.

Coalminers protest against conflict

More than a thousand of Komsomolets Donbassa coalminers took to the streets of Kirovsky, a city near Donetsk, on Sunday in protest against the attack. They called on the separatists to lay down their arms and start peace talks with the government.

A few days before the Kirovsky march, coalminers from Donetsk, Gorlovka, Enakievo, Snezhnoe and Topaz also took to the streets in protest: almost 10,000 coal miners marched against Ukrainian military operations, which they claim have killed civilians, as well as rebels.

The Independent Union of Donbass Miners, which represents miners in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, also demanded an immediate end to the so-called “anti-terrorist” operation by the Kiev authorities.

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