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The Marketing Strategies of Ukraine’s Coal-Rich Rebels

As Ukraine’s coal production drops, Belarusian coal exports shoot up.

8 March 2019

Ukraine’s coal production has fallen by roughly 15 percent annually since 2013, when it ranked among Europe’s largest coal producers.


Some of that lost production has shifted into the hands of the separatist territories in the Donbas, the Kyiv Post reports.


Meanwhile, Ukraine must now import nearly $3 billion worth of coal a year, much of it from Russia.


Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov has accused Russia of extracting about half a million tons of coal monthly from the Donbas and selling some of it on to European Union countries, the Post says.


Ukraine may also be buying coal indirectly from the Donbas via Belarus.


Belarus exported almost 1,000 times more coal to Ukraine last year than the minimal amount recorded in 2017 even though, as the Ministry of Energy told the Belarusian service of RFE/RL, the country “has no coal stations and no coal-fired facilities,” Belsat reports.


Indications are that this coal was mined in separatist controlled Donbas, exported to Belarus, then sold back to Ukraine proper.


In 2017, senior figures in the self-proclaimed Luhansk republic told Belsat they were negotiating coal exports to Belarus.



  • One exit route for Donbas coal is through Russian ports on the Azov Sea, Alla Hurska of the International Center for Policy Studies in Kyiv writes for the Jamestown Foundation, saying there is evidence that 400,000 to 500,000 tons of anthracite coal from the Donbas passes through those parts every month “and has apparently been sold to Poland, Moldova, Romania and even back to Ukraine.”


  • Hromadske reports on the growing problem of illegal mining in northern Luhansk as small mines grow into huge quarries despite efforts of the authorities to stop them.


  • All of Ukraine’s deposits of anthracite, the cleanest-burning kind of coal, are in the Donbas. Current EU legislation allows imports of coal from separatist areas even without Ukraine’s consent, the Kyiv Post writes.

Compiled by Rose Joy Smith

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We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.


Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 


The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 


Attendance is free upon registration - please, fill in the registration form.


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Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


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