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In the Lviv region, five thousand checks were carried out earlier on suspicious persons who could cooperate with the enemy or be fire adjusters. Are there any updates on it?
More than eight thousand people have already been screened for possible participation in various saboteur and subversive groups related to national security, and more than 40 cases have already been initiated on this topic. Still, they haven’t been brought to court yet.
Regarding Russian business in the Lviv region. A working group was created in the region, which is engaged in the search for enterprises that may be involved with the Russians or finance the war. Previously, there were almost 200 of them. What is their future fate?
Now we have about 300 Russian enterprises and about a hundred Belarusian ones. All these materials were collected and transferred after the working group to the Cabinet of Ministers – in accordance with the adopted law. The Supreme anti-corruption court must decide on the further fate of these enterprises together with a special authorized body to be chosen by the Cabinet of Ministers. I know that State Bureau of Investigations have were already started inspections in relation to some enterprises. There are already initial results, but the procedural handling of these issues is ahead.
Currently, information is actively spreading that re-registration, re-arrangement, and resale of these enterprises are taking place. It may happen that they won’t be found...
The process of re-registration is quite complicated, especially the belongings of those assets. So I don’t think it’s untraceable. All this is tracked.
Can you name these businesses? For example, the Lviv mayor often mentions the Lviv Bus Factory, on the territory of which the city plans to build an industrial park.
The Lviv Bus Plant has long ceased to be a strategic object and site for the possible placement of enterprises. Such enterprises have already been hosted by the Lviv Military Administration since the first days of the war, since the relocation of businesses began.
Can you name well-known enterprises with a Russian «trace» that are known for sure?
In the Lviv region, there is a question, in particular, for Lvivgaz.
If we talk about «Lvivgaz», now consumers are transferred to another supplier – JSC «Naftogaz». Were any economic irregularities detected in this process? Do you know anything about the activities of Lvivgaz?
At the moment, it is not revealed. The question now is, who is its ultimate beneficiary.
Regarding the supply of gas to the region. A possible decrease in temperature is predicted, but residents are advised not to worry about this problem. Do you think so too?
I’m more worried not about the volumes that can be mined and delivered, but about the networks and heat generation that might be bombarded by the enemy. This worries me more. Because if we take gas consumption in Ukraine, we have 30 billion [cubic meters of gas] last year due to the drop in production and the shutdown of large enterprises, and almost 20 billion this year. A deficit of up to three billion is possible, but this volume can be imported or consumption might be reduced.
What about the price? For household consumers, authorities promise to leave it unchanged, and the price for businesses is relatively high. Even before the war, many enterprises could not withstand such a load.
It must be clearly understood that if we are talking about the gas or electricity market, then we are in favour of market relations. If we are talking about the global economy and integration in the European global structures, we must understand that this is a market price. In this case, the state has shouldered utility companies and private households and guarantees that the next heating season will have the same prices as last year and which were also subsidized. This balance will fall on «Naftogaz».
I’m asking about prices for legal entities because when winter comes, employees will not be able to work. For example, the Pyriatyn cheese factory was closed even before the war precisely because it was unable to maintain production.
I would not consider any particular industries. If the Pyriatyn cheese factory cannot work, but the same producer «Mukko» can do it, then let them engage in modernization or improve their products or reduce energy consumption.
You are optimistic. Do you believe in market laws?
We live in a market economy, so we cannot think by the standards of the past. We do not have the opportunity to think that someone will give us something. We can win it back, conquer it and live in a market economy. Today, we are regaining not only our independence, but also our markets. So why, if we do, do we want to go back to socialism or communism again?
By the way, we are not talking about gifts, but about planning and predicting what is happening. Developed capitalist countries, in particular, are engaged in this.
Yes, that’s why we are talking about modernizing production, reducing consumption, competition, lowering the temperature in the institutions, if needed. Because if there’s 16-18 degrees in England and 22 here, then something is probably wrong.
Here is a big question for those engaged in centralized supply. A person himself cannot adjust the temperature in his apartment. The energy efficiency programs that started earlier are fortunately continuing, but no new applications are being accepted.
Unfortunately, new applications are not accepted, because we are in a state of war. It was necessary to do this before and find funds and opportunities to do it now. If residents of multi-apartment buildings prefer to deal with thermal insulation and modernization, then such an opportunity exists. This can be done even before the start of the heating season. Although, of course, the loan programs for such things are currently suspended.
You talk about the market economy, but let’s recall the situation with the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the city and region: some allowed it, others prohibited it, and this continued for several days. Is it also an economic relationship? Was there, in particular, concern for the prevention of crime and prevention of unmotivated aggression?
In my opinion, this issue should be considered in two ways. If we ban alcohol, it is neither sold legally nor illegally. Unfortunately, this ban led to illegal sales. On the other hand, we understood that the state is at war and everything must be done so that people behave responsibly. Distilleries, wine and beer factories have stopped, and these are 10,000 families in the Lviv region who have nothing to live on. And we tried to find a balance. We allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages and at the same time, gave the opportunity to tighten these measures at the community level. For our part, we went to meet and gave the factories an opportunity to work, but according to the curfew.
Tell us about the territorial defense units that are now part of the Armed Forces. The name itself suggests that the responsibility for them is also at the level of the regions where these units were formed. You stated that units of the Terdefense Forces are fully provided with everything, but there is a lot of information about cases when there was no adequate provision or they were not in the area where they were supposed to be... Is there a separate line between the regional authorities and the fighters who are there. If there is an appeal from them, how do you react to it?
I don’t agree with the wording to define terdefense as something separate. This is a separate type of troops, such as air mobile troops, border guards, air forces, etc. The territorial defence should not be singled out, because it differs only in being a newly created type of army, nothing more. Therefore, the use of this type of troops depends on the Ministry of Defense.
For our part, we help in material support not only to the ground defense brigades, but also to other military units of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which are localized, formed in the Lviv region and take part in hostilities in the east of Ukraine.
Is there a separate line of communication with the fighters who are on the front lines?
We are in contact with the commanders of the 24th, 80th, 103rd, and 125th brigades, and we respond to their requests.
My deputies go to the east every two or three weeks, to the hot spots, communicate directly with the fighters, collect requests, and we help with ammunition, food, vehicles and medicines.
Training should begin on September 1. I understand that about 20,000 displaced people still live in educational institutions. There is a program to rebuild social infrastructure facilities, dormitories, where they can be resettled. You said there are about 13 such facilities?
Yes, about 20 thousand people are currently in educational institutions, schools, colleges, lyceums. And we have to resettle them by the first of September, that’s why we allocated 54 million hryvnias from the regional budget for 14 facilities scattered across the region – in Stryi, Drohobych, Novoyavorivsk, Krasne, Novyi Rozdol, Yavoriv and other towns. This will make it possible to accommodate up to two thousand people as a matter of priority after repairs are made there.
In total, almost 50 such objects were selected, but this requires a resource of about 1.9 billion hryvnias. We wrote a letter to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding the adoption of a decision to accommodate people in these renovated premises, because the regional budget won’t be able to cope with this. Perhaps it will be possible to add to these 14 objects, which are already being repaired and prepared for the first of September, other premises that can be repaired in a short period of time at a low cost.
And what is the situation with the purchase of apartments? Earlier, it was said that almost 2,000 apartments have been prepared that can be purchased for the displaced persons.
We submitted this information to the Cabinet of Ministers, but currently there are no funds.
I have seen this data. So far, 52 apartments have been bought in Ukraine, in July it was announced that only one would be bought. Will it still be possible to buy apartments in Lviv and the region?
At the moment, there is no corresponding program of the Cabinet of Ministers on the purchase of apartments, even in the amount that we submitted in our proposals.
Regarding new construction. Earlier it was said that about 95 plots were found in the region for the construction of housing for displaced persons. How are things going in this direction?
It was said that we offer plots to developers or charitable foundations that are ready to build housing for internally displaced persons with charitable funds. These plots can be obtained free of charge from local self-government bodies. There are such sites, for example, in Sudova Vyshna, Dobrotvir, construction work has now begun in Drohobych. There is no big hype about it today either.
How many relocated enterprises are there in Lviv Oblast?
168 enterprises moved to us, 104 of them started working. People who have been bombed do not always want to indicate their location and re-register. We give them time to think, because they intend to go back.
And how does it affect the budget? Could its over-execution be greater if enterprises were to re-register?
If we talk about relocated businesses, they do not pay personal income tax or income tax because they are just starting to work. As for the number of jobs created, these are not huge numbers either. The declared number of newly created jobs when they reach the planned capacity is four thousand, but now it is many times less. Small business, trade are starting to work faster, and if we talk about mechanical engineering, chemistry, metalworking, then they are just starting up.
And how much did social benefits increase, if we talk about expenses?
The expenditure part of the budget was approved last year. Social spending on military formations under the «Safe Lviv region» program has increased. If we take social programs, they have also increased, but not on such a scale.
The government is talking about the fact that they can reduce expenditures on public administration in order to have a reserve of funds, including for social programs. Can such optimization affect the Lviv regional administration?
Are there any plans yet?
Currently there is none. But closer to autumn, there may be a reduction within 10 percent. Let’s see.
And these dismissed people will be forced to register at employment centers or look for a new job…
Information policy has become an important factor for Lviv regional military administration. You have a lot of responsibility for what and how people learn. Do you feel a certain discomfort in the fact that you want to say more, but do not always have the right to do so?
I am free in my expression, no one limits me.
I mean secret information that you know but can’t make public.
This is part of my job. Because of this, I do not feel discomfort.
I am also interested in your opinion. We took the course for de-Russification. But there was a case when, during the broadcast on one of the TV channels of the joint Freedom Marathon, one of the deputy heads of the administration was asked by the presenter to switch to the Russian language, because they seem to be broadcasting to the whole world. The state channel is also in Russian. Do you think this is correct?
And can you submit relevant recommendations to Kyiv so that it can be implemented in a better way?
I am not a specialist in mass media and information policy. For this, there is a department of internal policy of the regional military administration, which should shape the vision of the administration. If I like it, I can submit such proposals.
But can you do it as a deputy of the regional council?
I believe that the deputy of the regional council should clearly deal with what is within his powers. The regional council as a body can refer to the Verkhovna Rada, but it’s not the object of a legislative initiative. For this, it is necessary to submit appeals to people’s deputies, in particular from the Lviv region.
Do you know the mechanism by which the regional council and local self-government bodies could be promoters of decisions that the executive power does not always feel comfortable discussing?
No, they should give signals from society – the people they represent. These appeals should be addressed directly to those who make decisions and are empowered with legislative initiative.
Sergiy Smirnov spoke
Text: Khrystyna Hogol, translated by Vitalii Holich
Photo: Tvoe Misto/Ivan Stanislavskyi
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