The line ministries are currently developing a joint program that will involve children and young people from the territories occupied by Russia to participate in sports competitions held on the territory of free Ukraine.

The corresponding statement was made by the Deputy Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons Heorhiy Tuka during a public discussion "Return of the occupied territories of Donbas. The Ukrainian plan," QHA correspondent reports.

According to Tuka, the program will be developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine and would be aimed at attracting   talented youth from ORDLO, providing an opportunity to realize their talents.

“A program will be soon developed in conjunction with Ministry of Youth and Sports to involve children, children's sports groups, individual athletes living in temporarily occupied territories, to all-Ukrainian sports competitions in order to draw these young people, children, peaceful people from that environment. This, by the way, is the answer to whether it is possible to integrate people without physical clearance of the occupation forces. It is possible”.

Tuka went on saying that the Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and other Ukrainian departments have already taken several steps in order not to lose those horizontal links that exist between people living both in the occupied territories and in free Ukraine. He reminded in particular that programs aimed at simplifying access to higher education for young people from the occupied Donbas and Crimea have existed for more than one year, and this year nearly 1,600 graduates have already taken advantage of them.

 “Well-known measures that were developed in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science to allow the children from uncontrolled territories enter Ukrainian universities under a simplified procedure. Almost 1600 children who live in a virtually hostile information environment for already 3.5 years were able to benefited from this procedure, they were taken away from that environment. Including more than 200 children from the occupied Crimea who came and entered Ukrainian universities.”

According to Tuka, the above-mentioned sports reintegration of children and youth from the occupied territories will concern only Donbas now. The detailed presentation of the program is expected in December, at a joint meeting of Ministry of temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports. The final decision will be approved on the ministry level.

“It’s about the Donbas so far. We are going to have a first consolidated meeting in December where Ihor (the Ministry for Youth and Sports) would present his ideas on this matter. This issue will probably be approved on the ministry level. It’s only an idea now, which absolutely corresponds with 8-p plan,” (CMU order № 8-р from 11.01.17, which confirmed an action plan on implementation of public policy on the territory of the ORDLO (occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions).

During an interview with the QHA journalist, Tuka recalled how popular were the concerts of popular Ukrainian singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, organized recently in the eastern regions of Ukraine in the cities close to the contact line. According to Tuka, this was the Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories who delivered people from the occupied territories to these concerts, most of listeners at Vakarchuk’s concerts were the ORDLO residents. 

“We had such a mass event, which may be treated as an example, I am talking about the Vakarchuk tour organization in the east of Ukraine. We organized the delivery of people from the occupied territories. The stadiums were full as a result, 70% of the crowd were residents of the occupied territories,” Tuka said.

Earlier, the simplified procedure for the graduates from the occupied Crimea and Donbas to enter the Ukrainian universities was introduced in 2016.
Through the “Donbas-Ukraine” educational centers 1346 graduates (including 204 from Crimea) entered Ukrainian universities in 2017. As for 2016, the numbers were 855 and 153 respectively.