“Go like this, son, without customs. From Russia to Russia”: Border suffering was removed between the DPR and the Russian Federation

Exactly at midnight on October 5, customs between Russia and the republics of Donbass were officially abolished.

Exactly at midnight on October 5, customs between Russia and the republics of Donbass were officially abolished.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN


There are three topics that unmistakably catch the inhabitants of Donbass. In order of preference:

When will peace come, or at least the shelling will stop?

When will there be water every day?

When will it be possible to travel to Russia freely?

A lot is tied to the last dream. More than just personal long hours of torment at border crossings.

This is, first of all, the cost of the “grocery basket”. I counted several times, comparing it with the same Moscow grocery set. In the hypermarkets of Donetsk, I always gave twice as much, although the products are the same. Native, familiar Russian brands, it makes no sense to list them. When the sellers were put on the look of such a horse price tag, they made pewter eyes and began to explain about the daily downtime of trucks at border crossings (which is the absolute truth). About customs, which suffocates. The most unpleasant thing is that even local producers decided not to lag behind, not to lose their profits.

And now you are standing in a Donetsk store over the counter with sausages and cannot understand why Makeevka and Yenakieve sausages cost the same as “Papa can” or “Miratorg”? Do they also make a detour through customs on their way to the shops? Mystery.

Petrol prices behave in a similar way, 20-30 percent higher than in Russia. And so, wherever you look – batteries, children’s toys, clothes, household appliances, stationery, shoes. Wind up as much as your conscience allows, and you will say mournfully to the buyer: “Customs”. And he will understand, because he himself periodically communicates with her in stuffy and endless lines at the border.


But that night everything changed magically. In a favorite Donetsk chat, where 300 thousand citizens gather, someone posted a photo of a landmark announcement on a pole: “From 05.10. 2022 from 00:00 customs control and clearance at the Uspenka t/c will not be carried out!!!” Three exclamation marks.

In the morning, I immediately hurried to this Uspenka, where they were supposed to give me a package in the neutral zone for “my” snipers fighting in Marinka, near Donetsk. The parcel contained things that were completely seditious five hours ago – the so-called DTK, “muzzle brake-compensator”. As a rule, these are hefty steel cylinders that are screwed onto the cut of the barrel of an assault rifle or sniper rifle. DTK removes the fire from the shot and reduces the sound, which has a beneficial effect on the life expectancy of a fighter. DTCs were very much “loved” at customs, they were immediately called “silencers” and sent to Rostov for examination, for about two months … Moreover, these products are manufactured and sold in Russia completely freely and do not raise any questions. These DTKs, for example, are made by the Rotor-43 company and still have time to help our army. But they don’t sell DTK to the dryers in principle …

Parcel for snipers fighting in Marinka, near Donetsk.

Parcel for snipers fighting in Marinka, near Donetsk.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Let’s see what will happen today, on this fateful day.

At first everything seemed the same as before – a standard line of 30 cars and a couple of buses, people toiling. The first barrier is the soldiers of the military police. I show them journalistic accreditations, a passport, an identity card, and they let me through. The draftee will not slip through – the DPR has its own mobilization.

But near the customs trailers it’s empty! I remember how I shoved sheets of “temporary import” of a car into these windows, filled in in the icy wind with a freezing pen, and even in two copies and always “wrong”. He asked an elderly customs officer, who was toiling from boredom:

– Can I go to neutral and quickly go back?

The customs officer waved his hand.

– And without passport control? – I clarify, not immediately believing.

– Go ahead, son! What is it now.

There was both bitterness and truth in his words, the border now received the status of an administrative one, but the customs officer’s advice itself was not expensive. I was turned back from neutral to check my passport and verify my identity. However, at the republican border crossing, there were no more suitcases with underwear turned inside out, gutted checkered bags. Knowledgeable people suggested: all this will be further, at the border crossing of “Greater Russia”.


I received a parcel with DTK, a weighty bundle. According to the courier, the parcel did not raise any questions from the Russian border guards. But customs officers were not there, things were not inspected, there was no one to be interested in “dual-use” goods.

I spoke heart to heart and informally with a Russian border guard officer, my reader. According to him, the customs is finalizing the last days. Now, for example, trucks that drove into the terminals yesterday, late in the evening, are still being inspected. Then – everything. Most likely, there will be only one border crossing, which used to be called “Russian”:

– But the border control at the entrance to the Rostov region will remain, and I think so, for another three years. And strict passport control.

– Why? Weapons, ammo?

– First of all, we have always worked on them. Look, even now, on average, per day, we detain at least two people for whom the special services have questions. Who did not fight for us or who showed himself somehow, I cannot specify the criteria here. When they took Mariupol, “Azovstal” and they (“Azovites” and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. – Auth.) scattered in crowds, we caught dozens of such incomprehensible citizens. Since the summer, people have gone who arbitrarily left their units, deserters. They are also of interest to us.

– And the fugitives from the draft?

We call them “redheads”. Of course, as mobilization was announced in the republics, they ran. But now they have nowhere to run.

– And the main question – can I now bring, for example, 10 copters for our fighters?

My interlocutor shrugged.

– Why not? You are going from Russia to Russia!

This is probably the main thing I wanted to hear. Although, there are different options. For example, you can draw a lot of local decrees and circulars… There would be a desire. My fellow humanitarian, a day before the return of Donbass to Russia, was kept on the Dnieper side for an hour. He argued, swore, and the customs officers, in response, read aloud to him the Order “On the temporary procedure for accreditation of humanitarian cargo.” They called the unit where they were waiting for this cargo, they confirmed – “Yes, we are waiting, urgently, such and such things, 20 pairs of shoes, 20 sleeping bags …”. But, customs was impenetrable. Finally, my friend exploded:

You won’t be here in a day! Are you goodbye so people’s blood is spoiling?

Surprisingly, these words worked. Maybe I heard the last “tale from the border crossing” in recent history.

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