Money from the air: how dealers in “LPR” earn

Some hate war, some war adore. These words always remember, when you notice how military conflict methodically and successfully fills the pockets of enterprising people on the occupied territories of Ukraine. If war for somebody is only new problems and troubles, another people see the possibility of good earning in dark times. At this material will tell how war inspired agile dealers to make money almost from the air.

The souvenirs from defense ministry retail shop of why t-shirts with Plotnitsky aren’t sold in “LPR”

Politically active Donbass residents, especially of Soviet orientation always were addicted from different little flags, badges and another species of the souvenir production. It’s not the surprise, that nowadays demand has generated a great offer. Entrepreneurs “caught a wave” and at the moment generously flooded markets and counterfeits with masses of goods with “DPR”, “LPR”, “Novorossiya” and their leaders symbolism.


All manner of defense ministry retail shops (dmrs) and stores with the names like “Patriot” are opening in the settlements of rebel territories. Except souvenirs the military equipment easy can be bought there: uniform, outfit, symbolism of the illegal armed formations etc.

According to the words of the employee of of of the military stores, schoolchildren and youth actively buy badges, cover for a passport, the magnets and t-shirts, more expensive products and outfit is interesting mostly for militaries.

Locals can afford dribs and drabs: the price of badges/little flags starts from 20 roubles (~$0.23). Camouflage wear and military shoes will be significantly expensive: from 1000 to 20 000 roubles (~$11.7 – $233.9), depends on quality of product.

As aptly noted Russian traveller Anton Krotov, visited not so long ago “DPR” and “LPR”, there is no any portrait or souvenir with the image of local chieftain Plotnitsky in Luhansk, unlike Donetsk.

“If we take, for example, “DPR”, there are a lot of patriotic posters on the streets, signboards, magnets, car numbers,, the portraits of a local chieftain Zakharchenko, hymn, coat of arms and others, constitution, code of laws in the shops and book stores, so even portraits of local marshal of the nobility Plotnitsky doesn’t sell in Luhansk. I was looking for the image of this Plotnitsky, as a souvenir, maybe some kind of a street poster to arise patriotism, heroism, but everything is bad with it here. It’s interesting, that Zakharchenko or Putin can be bought, magnets with them too, but Plotnitsky is nowhere”, shared his visiting impression from Luhansk Krotov.

The situation is explained by sellers of souvenir stores in the market: “Zakharchenko is  willingly bought, he has more combat image, so Plotnitsky what for? Do you personally wear the t-shirt with his portrait? It’s really funny”. If you google “Plotnitsky buy” the search will show you only axes.


The souvenirs of unrecognized republics and portraits of “Novorossiya heroes” usually are produced by local advertising agencies and printing houses, languishing from lack of money, due to the decline of the total advertising market. The textile is also produced locally or imported from Rostov region of RF.

According to unofficial data financial turnover of “LPR” souvenir market is calculated by million of roubles per month. Respectively, than the war conflict be longer, the thicker wallets of manufacturers and dealers of battered tricolors, crumpled St. George Ribbons and brave portraits of mustached Girkin and abstinent Gubarev will be.


Wedding remotely: any folly for your lolly

One more superprofitable business on the uncontrolled territories is the paperwork and renewal of Ukrainian pensions. Juridical and not so firm successfully function and for certain bribe are ready to help without leaving the occupied territory to paste the photo in a Ukrainian passport, get a legitimate certificate of birth and death, and even marriage.

For example, to paste photo in passport achieving 25 and 45 age costs from 1000 to 1500 UAH. To recover lost passport or get it first time – such service costs 2500 UAH. All alike manipulations are successfully realized with the help of acquaintant officials in passport and registry offices of Lisichansk and Severodonetsk.


“I lost my passport, I can’t do anything without it, needed to be recovered. I paid 2500 UAH, gave my photos, after two weeks new passport was brought from Lisichansk. If I went to recover it personally, I’d spend much more”, tells Nickolay from Lutugino. Judging by mass of advertising about providing of such service, this business has successfully enough entrenched on the territories of “LPR” and it looks like that entrepreneurs and service users are satisfied. To formalize Ukrainian death and birth certificates without leaving is possible also for 2000-2500 UAH.

The bride and groom from the mining town Perevalsk told atypical story.

“We are not permitted to travel to Ukraine, because me and my wife were accepted without permission as budget employees in “Mir Luganschine” (Peace to Luhansk region, Plotnitsky public organization – ed.). We decided to get married, but we didn’t want to get “LPR” marriage certificates. So, we used the service of our acquaintance, married remotely in Severodonetsk. Got legal document, we celebrated wedding in native Perevalsk in one of cafe”, shared their impressions Larisa and Sergei.

Pensioners, haven’t already re-formalized their legal pensions in Ukraine, at the moment become titbit for the firms, offering formalize payment without leaving.

In spite of a risk to face with dishonest dealers, such firms have big turns of clients. The cost of service is from 2000 to 3000 UAH.

Also, people, offering to formalize skip in Ukraine, earn on pensioners.

Old lonely people without computer and internet skill pay from 100 to 300 roubles for the service. It depends on greedy of formalize servants.


The distance is not a problem and the possibility of earning

Goods, cargos and correspondence delivery through the demarcation line is profitable enough business, but sometimes nervous and dangerous.

Due to “Ukrposhta” and “Nova Poshta” don’t work on the occupied territories and “LPR Post” represents limp and helpless formation, the necessity to deliver parcels, goods and mail from Ukraine on the territories, controlled by insurgents, appeared.

Today such inquiry is satisfied by mass of firms, providing courier service of delivering of parcels and cargos on/from closer branches of Ukrainian “Nova Poshta”. Except payment for “Nova Poshta” service couriers ask to pay them moreover rates of “Nova Poshta” amounts. The costliness is explained by delivery complexity and increased risk.


Other one set the connection with “Pochta Rossii” (Russian Post) Depts in border towns of Rostov region and send and deliver parcels on the territory of Russia and back.

The passenger transportations from ‘republics’ into Russia and Ukraine are really goldmine for the owners of buses.  

Neither regular shellings, nor bribes in the block-posts from the both sides of the conflict, nor legal legislative obstacles and shortages of fuel couldn’t prevent to road rulers to build and strengthen their successful business.

To get to Kyiv from “LPR” by bus costs 1500 roubles (~$18), to Kharkiv – 1200 roubles (~$15), to Moscow – 2000 roubles (~$24) and travelling to St. Petersburg will cost 4000 roubles (~$48).

“It’s hard to say that I get rich, but long-distance transportations is very profitable business today”, tells the owner of little Luhansk tourist firm. “I’m renewing my autopark a little bit, saving up for the flat. Children and wife are fed and clothed, what else I need?”, smiling businessman.


The money from the air: rate difference as enrichment method

The currency exchange and cashing in points are finishing our rating of the most profitable businesses in Luhansk and region.

Deftly manipulating on rate difference plus getting addition percent for provided service, such dealers make money from the air without exaggeration. The mass of so-called ‘financial centers’ opened in uncontrolled cities after the paralyzation and leaving conflict zone of all Ukrainian banks. Such organizations propose wide enough spectre of service: from utility payment to refilling of the accounts in social networks and online games.


Without having an alternative, people implicitly bring their savings in such financial centers, some of them, unfortunately, turns out unscrupulous ephemerals.

Got the ‘license’ of the “Ministry of Finances of LPR” such firms feel free enough, continuing to scalp Donbass residents, forced to live in warfare zone and didn’t have an opportunity to make transactions according to civilized tariffs and rates.

In one word, the problem of deficit of ideas for start-up doesn’t exist for young, bored loafers, having even modest start capital, business acumen and prowess. It especially very easy to make money in war time.

And while the population of uncontrolled territories won’t fall on evil days, there always be those, who will offer reliable way to get rid of the coin purse in exchange for goods and services.


Lilith Rebrova special for

translated by Denis Bizkitov