Even though Semen Semenchenko can present pretty strong arguments for the blockade, the consequences of his, his party's and his supporters' actions so far seem to be not in the interests of Ukraine.
Before we go further, let me summarize a few things he justifies the blockade with, the way I understand it.
Ukraine pays 3 times the price for the coal coming from the East, than it would pay for coal coming from Europe and elsewhere.
The real price the companies, belonging to the ones in power, are actually paying for the coal, is unknown. Thus, the power plants and other factories using the coal, can raise the costs, which has to be paid by the common people. Meaning, the average Ukrainians are paying more, however, this money is simply going in the wallets of the ones who own these vital industrial units.
Also, a certain amount of the money paid for the coal goes to the separatist, who then channel these funds into guns, which kill Ukrainian troops.
The war scares people, and the ones in power exploit that, so they could continue profiting from it. Consequently, the ones in power want the war to continue.
Semenchenko and like-minded politicians therefore demand the nationalization of key power plants and companies in Ukraine.
Are you confused yet? I am for sure, but hopefully I will manage to meet someone from Samopomich, who will explain everything, down to the last details.
Nationalization begins... in the East
Separatist leaders gave an ultimatum to Kyiv, threatening to take over all sorts of companies under Ukrainian jurisdiction on their territories unless the blockade, initiated in the end of January, is lifted.
They kept their word, and as the deadline of 1st March came, armed groups apparently took over the office of the communications company Ukrtelekom, belonging to SKM group.
Allegedly 200 thousand clients of Ukrtelekom has no service in the East.
The leaders of the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) published a list of
43 companies that they claim to have taken over (or will do so in the near future). Most of these companies are part of the SKM group, which belongs to Rinat Ahmetov, Ukraine's richest businessman.
The SKM group stated that it rejects the demands of the separatists to re-register its companies to the separatist territories, and it will not pay taxes for neither the DNR, nor to its cousin, the Luhasnk People's Republic (LNR).
As I understand, Ahmetov's SKM does however own power plants, factories and mines on both side of the front line, so if we follow Semenchenko's thinking, Ahmetov buys coal from himself, then sells it to the common people.
The DNR authorities have also taken over the Donbass Arena stadium in
Donetsk, where Ahmetov's people are distributing humanitarian aids
to the people in need in the separatist territories.
And this is where it gets even more confusing
Why did the DNR/LNR not nationalize these companies belonging to the SKM group earlier? Did their masters not want to take on the burden of actually caring for the civilians living in those areas. Maybe Crimea was already a bite big enough...?
Obviously the owner of the SKM group, which deals with mining, metallurgy, telecommunications, finance and what not, did not want to lose his business in the East. But then the separatist leaders had to have their motives as well.
I believe that a change of management of this companies, or as the DNR authorities call it, outside administration, is not as easy to execute as it sounds.
My current theory is that the DNR/LNR are trying to apply pressure on
Ahmetov and Kyiv.
Who cares if their actions cause financial losses for SKM, and makes life even harder for people in the separatist territories.
Do they want to extort (more) money out of Ahmetov? Can they actually manage these companies, including mines and metallurgical plants, so to have the revenues for themselves.
Would Ukraine actually trade directly with DNR and LNR? Oh, wait, the separatist leaders said that in case they are forced to nationalize, they would stop supplying Ukraine with coal.
And where are they going to send the coal? To Russia? Maybe.
Are the separatists for real?
On the Ukrainian side it is said that the DNR and LNR are nothing more than military dictatorships, where the economy is not only struggling, it is practically non-existent. Many metallurgical plants don't work anymore, other companies moved to Russia.
No work, no money. This would explain the theory, that on these territories the only way of making a decent living is joining the armed forces.
So if the only working industrial units, which are under Ukrainian jurisdiction, are seized, the separatists might shoot themselves in the balls.
But maybe the separatists are merely applying pressure with the so called outside administration, to have the blockade lifted, so that trading could continue.
This would mean that Semenchenko is correct, and the Ukrainian people are feeding and supporting the separatist, who are more dependent on Ukraine, than the other way around. In this case, Ukrainians are indeed paying the separatists to shoot Ukrainian troops.
Who is playing who?
Then again, it is possible that the DNR guys are ready to take over these companies, and the blockade (surprisingly) came at the right time.
Vladimir Putin ordered that the documents, such as passports, issued in the separatist regions. That evokes the Russian leadership decided to change the rules, and who knows, maybe even are ready to integrate whatever economy is left in DNR and LNR into the Russian market.
Just think about it for a second. If Russia accepts documents from the separatists, then eventually why would they have an issue with recognizing legal documents of enterprises taken over by the separatist authorities.
But then why would the leaders of the DNR and LNR demandt the blockade to be lifted? Is it just part of the act put on?
And we're back to the blockade, which is still ongoing. Why would the Ukrainian authorities tolerate something like that, especially if the ones upholding the blockade are few in numbers, representing no threat to a police force sent to disperse them. Could such an action be beneficial for the political (and perhaps economical) ambitions of those who are supporting and organizing the blockade?
What is behind the whole situation?
Some experts believe that the whole crisis is actually about a dispute between Ukrainian oligarchs, and Semenchenko and his comrades are simply doing the dirty work under the cover of patriotism. Then again, it is business on blood indeed, if an oligarch, let's call him Kolomoyskiy or Poroshenko for now, wants to weaken Ahmetov in such a way. But it could be Ahmetov who is behind the blockade, trying to further raise the (official) price of the coal.
However, it could be very well that the Semenchenko and his group are unknowingly, or what's worse, knowingly doing the bidding of Moscow.
We will be only be able to assume what's going on once we see the results of this crisis. And we will probably find out who is behind the ones who started the blockade.