What’s a Good computer Setup for Survival & Disaster Preparedness ?

My Recommendations:

If you want something tough as nails but you dont need the fastest computer around get an old Toughbook:

Panasonic CF-30 Rugged Toughbook Windows 7 Touchscreen 4GB RAM 1TB HDD

If you want a fast, powerful computer, MIl-spec tested and good enough for NASA, then consider a good Thinkpad such as the T420. It wont stop bullets like Toughbooks but they are lighter, durable, easy to repair pretty and powerful hardware. A Thinkpad with a Mini Dock Series 3 docking station is a great combo. If you happen to need something smaller then go for an X220:

Lenovo IBM Thinkpad Laptop T420 14 Inch Laptop

If you need both extra durability and lots of hardware power, get a newer Toughbook with a docking station:

Panasonic Toughbook 14″ LED Notebook – Intel Core i7 i7-3520M

FerFAL

College Students turning to Prostitution to pay for Rising Tuition Costs

cegrab-20151027-064057-139-1-736x414-1.jpg
A very clear sign of a socioeconomic collapse is the rising cost of living and education as well as a noticeable loss of dignity and moral values.
Sometimes these two combine like they do in this story, where SeekingArrangement.com claims 12,600 UK students have signed up to exchange sex for money.
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/10/27/sugar-babies-students-sell-sex-to-pay-rising-tuition/?intcmp=ob_article_sidebar_video&intcmp=obnetwork
SeekingArrangements may call it making “arrangements” so as to find a “sugar daddy” for these young women. In my neck of the woods we just call it “The World’s Oldest Profession” or simply put “prostitution”. What the website offers, this “arrangement”, is a thinly veiled “pimping” service.
“I wouldn’t be able to meet girls as young and as beautiful as this through an ordinary dating website.” Claimed a married 62-year-old sugar daddy. Well good sir, that would be because you’re paying them. And its not called “dating” by the way. Dating isn’t a felony in all 50 States.
As the economy collapses, or at least as it does for most of the working class, these scenes become more common. We can try to pretend otherwise but women do this not because they like older married creeps, but because they feel they have no other choice, and it’s a sad state of affairs when students have to turn to prostitution to pay for food and keep a roof over their heads along with whatever education expenses they may have.
FerFAL

EDC: Get yourself a good water bottle


What’s the big deal? Just buy a bottle of water on the go, right? Well, no.
First, even if you mostly move around in urban areas and can buy bottles of water whenever you feel the need, this can become a pretty wasteful habit. Wasteful regarding waste of money, money that could be put to good use elsewhere, wasteful also regarding the environment. I’m no tree-hugger, but I can see how regularly buying disposable containers is a pretty wasteful thing to do.
I consider water to be one of the most critical yet most often overlooked EDC components. Basically everything else people EDC, knives, guns, flashlights, even wallet and mobile phones, you could honestly get by without for several hours, even several days and not die. The same cannot be said about water. You will need water in the next few hours. In our permissive environment, we simply lost perspective of how precious a resource it truly is. But you need water. You need to drink it, you need it to clean wounds, wash your face after a disaster, wash debris out of your eyes or soak a hat or rag to cool down or prepare a tea or coffee when cold.
Then there’s the container. A good water bottle is much stronger than those disposable ones. It can be refilled time and again for many years. With the right container you could even cook safely in it. When aboriginal societies in some isolated parts of the world are exposed to modern technologies, one of the things that amazes them the most and they themselves find the most useful is a container that can withstand fire and isn’t brittle or fragile like their clay or wooden containers. For those that are forced to survive in the wilderness for extended periods of time, several decades even, containers that they can both cook and carry liquids in are the thing they miss the most.
Choosing the Right Water bottle
As some of you already know, I recently relocated from Ireland to the south of Spain. During that transition a thing that got left behind was my water bottle. During those last few days everything was this whirlwind of preparations and at the last minute I just didn’t have any room for it. In hindsight I could have tried to get in along with my carry-on luggage, but given how tight airplane regulations are I decided to just leave the heavily dented steel bottle and just get a new one later on. Oh, did I regret that decision!
Not a day had gone by that I wish I had my old Klean Kanteen with me. I got by refilling used water bottles but it sure was a pitiful replacement. I walked into several outdoor stores but none had the kind of bottle I was looking for. Either the design wasn’t right, or the bottle wasn’t marked as BPA free. I saw a few SIGG water bottles but after seeing first-hand how the interior liner chipped and peeled off into a toxic gunk I wasn’t going to buy one of those again. Some of the bottles out there were aluminium with no liner of any kind. Those you want to avoid as much as the SIGGs.
I ended up ordering three types of bottles online. A generic steel water bottle, Nalgene and Klean Kateen. The cheap generic one had no markings and the cap said nothing about being BPA free. The Klean Kanteen and the Nalgene, these last two are the ones I most definitely recommend.
Nalgene

Nalgene Wide Mouth Bottle (Clear, 1-Pint)

Nalgene Wide Mouth Bottle (Clear, 1-Pint) $8.62

Nalgene water bottles are rightfully one of the most popular options. They are light but durable. Even though they are made of plastic, the material is much thicker than an ordinary water bottle and you can immediately tell when you pick one up that these bottles made in USA can take a beating. They are reasonably priced as well, making it easier to buy several for kits and different family members. My advice would be to buy clear transparent ones. These allow you to use sunlight to treat water with UV (SODIS). 6hs of direct sunlight can kill harmful bacteria according to the World Health Organization.
Klean Kanteen

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle with Loop Cap

Klean Kanteen Classic 27-Ounce Stainless Steel Bottle With Loop Cap $17.75

These are my preferred bottles. Its steel, not likely to break, and it simply doesn’t degrade like plastic as years go by. For getting bumped around in my EDC bag or my kid’s school bag this is the way to go. You can heat them as much as you want for sterilizing, if necessary you could even boil water or cook in it in an emergency. Long dessert spoons can usually fit through the models with wide mouths, opening several new options for EDC or minimalistic backpacking. The sport cap works better than most of the other similar designs I’ve seen. So far it does not leak, but I still prefer the classic loop cap which is BPA free and extremely durable. I was happy with the 18oz model but now in a warmer region I went with a 27 oz model. It still fits nicely in most of my bags and I have enough water for the day even in warmer days.
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Why you should get a Second Passport. NOW.


Ferfal,
Thanks so much for your books and blog. They are very helpful for us. We’ve been implementing what we’ve learned.
Your article about having two passports http://ferfal.blogspot.com/2015/04/whats-best-passport-and-why-should-you.html strikes me as good common sense. My wife was born in Canada and is now a naturalized American citizen. Most of her relatives continue to live in Canada, despite the election last week, making Canada our #1 international bug-out prospect. We’re retired and don’t plan to travel to exotic or dangerous locales so dangers and benefits during travel are secondary for us. One of her Canadian cousins is a banker; another is a bishop. Last year, the banker cousin said we could open a Canadian bank account.
After some thought and research, she now resists seeking a Canadian passport because she’s concerned that seeking a Canadian passport might cause some people, somewhere, in the American government to hold this against us and cause damage to us later. I agree with her that there are likely some people out there like that but we have no idea how many. I’ve been active politically albeit at a low level. I’ve published some articles in print and on the internet that I’m sure are stored somewhere in government archives.
Given your experience and research, what do you think about this concern? What would be your estimate of the benefit/risk ratio of her seeking a Canadian passport? If she does apply, would there be any benefit or disadvantage in applying under her maiden, pre-marriage name?
One of our flags is the “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me” flag.
-Bob

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Hello Bob, thank you for your email and your kind words. I’m glad you find my work useful.
I would get the Canadian passport. The risk/benefit ratio is clear to me. There’s thousands of good, law abiding Americans with dual citizenship going about their business every day and they are not any less American for it. Also, there’s little chance Canadian citizenship will raise any flags. Maybe dual citizenship with some of the more volatile countries in Middle East and such would be more suspicious. As for the benefits you already mentioned opening an account in Canada, that’s on its own a big asset for financial preparedness, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you start exploring the possibilities a second passport offers.
“But Ferfal, you and your nonsense. Starting fires with chopsticks, hunting bears with arrows made of Coke glass bottles. That’s what survivalism is all about!”
Maybe in Reality TV shows it is, but not in the actual harsh world out there.
The world is changing around us in ways few people fully understand. From a practical, modern survival perspective, few things are as valuable and as important as a second passport during certain worst case scenarios. I’ve mentioned many times how a gun, passport and money are the three main items to have. If forced to get rid of one I’d get rid of the gun first. With a passport and enough money I can get another gun anyway. Now if forced to drop a second item, I’d rather not have money than lose my European citizenship.
Think of it this way: The cheapest passport in some God forsaken island costs about $250.000. An actually good passport that grants you EU citizenship will cost no less than $1.57 million a pop. That’s per passport, so for the average family of fours its over 6 million bucks! And trust me, there’s people out there that happily pay for it. Now the question is, why? For the very wealthy person, it of course has clear benefits both for living in Europe but also investing as citizens. But what about the average Joe? Average Joe can also make great use of a EU passport. I’m one myself and my citizenship is the last thing I’d give up.
“But Ferfal, Europe? No American in his right mind would move there…”
First, yes, many have. Second, to that I just say you never know. You never know if one day relocating to Europe, or Canada would be in your best interest. The world can change so much in just a few years. There’s just no telling what your personal situation will be like ten years from now, let alone what the world will be like. There’s people that have received life-saving medical treatment for free which otherwise they simply couldn’t afford, thanks to the EU. There’s millions that move all over Europe for employment. Right now with the refugee crisis, hundreds of thousands are looking for a country to take them in. For those that already had citizenship, their only concern would have been getting there before things fell apart too bad.
If passports are literally worth millions of dollars, its just a crime not to get yours if possible. I’ll say it again: You just never now. You don’t know if you want/have to emigrate one day, or if maybe your children or grandchildren will. (That would be my case, it was my grandfather that got me my passport) You don’t know if they may want to study abroad, or get a degree in a world class university for a fraction of what it costs back in U.S.
If you have Irish, Spanish, Italian or any other ancestry, its well worth looking into. These things take time, years, that’s why few people bother but trust me one day you (or your grandchildren) will thank you for it.
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

“The Modern Survival Manual” #1 Best Seller

ffalbook_cr_cr3

Folks, my book “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse”, made it yet again to #1 Best Seller in Disaster Relief today in Amazon.
I just wanted to thank all of you for your support. You guys are fantastic.
If you haven’t picked a copy yet consider doing so. I’m confident it’s a useful survival manual for these trying times and most of the urban survival strategies regarding economic collapse, inflation, security, self-defense and practical preparedness are applicable both before and after SHTF.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
FerFAL

Do you need a community to Survive when SHTF?

First off let me start by saying that reading your blog has been a very refreshing change of pace. Often most blogs on survivalism also come with crazy white supremacist or anti-government rhetoric, theres also a lot of what I like to call “lone rangers” building bunkers, stockpiling ammo, food, water…
And these things are very advisable but one thing I see them doing is isolating themselves from neighbours who might actually be helpful to be on good terms with.
I am from rural Montana and for some reason this region attracts a very large number of anti-social bunker dwellers and militia types who I feel quite frankly arent just preparing for disaster, but are praying for one.
I am a marine infantryman and have spent considerable time in war zones, disaster areas, and places where mob-rule, drug lords, or organized crime are the closest thing to law that people have. This idea of the rugged individual standing atop a pile of MREs and ammo in a heroic last stand seems to be a distinctively american one.
Ive been in many firefights, armed stand offs, even spent 6 hours being hunted by a sniper once. I can say that none of the things I have survived, nor locals ive seen surviving did so soley because of their ruggedly individualistic defiance and personal grit. I lived because I had a unit of good men I could trust watching my back as I watched thiers and most locals were very self reliant, but they were always networking with each other for the things they couldnt make or get by themselves.
Things like
“help me dig this well and I will help you fix your car”
“If we hear shooting at your house we will come if you will do the same for us”
“If anyone sees the rebels coming everyone call everyone else”
“We can all pool money for a set of solar panels to charge our batteries”
In one case where our patrol was mistaken as hostile I actually saw a 12 year old boy initiate a “phone tree” which was able to evacuate a village of 2,000 people in 20 minutes, an hour later all villages in that valley had sought refuge in the surrounding mountains, they finally emerged when we convinced them we werent there for hostile purposes.
I think it is a very good idea to address community as a survival strategy, because I can and do tell a lot of these lone rangers my experiences in combat and hostile environments “It doesnt matter how good a shot you are or how many guns you have buried in your back yard, if 15 people decide they are coming into your house the best you can do on your own is run, or die for a pile of food and ammo”
Im not saying people and thier neighbours need to go full vigilante, but maybe setting up a watch, a community fall back area, or early warning phone or hand held radio system could be a much more sound tactic than re-enacting their favourite rambo movie.
-Tom

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Hello Tom,
These days everyone with a keyboard and internet connection is a survival expert, so that kind of misconception is pretty common. People think they’ll be safe because they live far from cities, that an economic collapse won’t affect them because they grow their own food (guess, they never heard about people losing their farm to the bank) or that they’ll never need to evacuate their home “because we already live in our bug out location” (which by definition is impossible, given that a BOL is where you go when your primary residence is compromised). The thing is, people think these things but they’ve never actually had to try them for real. They think this or that will work out a certain way “when SHTF”, but they’ve never seen what happens when SHTF for real nor have they seriously researched the topic.
The kind of personality you describe is very common in our community. In most cases its people that have problems socializing, they just don’t like people and they rationalize their personal preferences by convincing themselves that isolation is in some way a wise preparedness strategy. Of course, as you correctly state, that’s not the case.
Being isolated and being on your own only makes you an easier target. Even if you fortify your position so as to not be a “soft” target, being a lonely tough nut only means no one will hear you when you crack. If anyone has managed to make the solo bunker idea work, its simply because they never had to actually put it through a real large scale disaster. It will not work long term with severe crime and social unrest. Its like my 7 year old’s cardboard and tape spaceship: It’s a fantastic spaceship as long as you don’t actually use it as one.
Within a socioeconomic collapse, which is the area I have the most experience with, I can assure you that you’ll need all the help you can get. With finding employment, with getting some help with the house and kids when you’re studying or working and just not around and you definitely need help regarding crime, everything from neighbours watching after one another, to hiring security or organizing a neighbourhood watch.
Having said all this, you will not always get the help that you need. Expect to be disappointed. A lot. In fact 9 out of 10 people will not be there for you when SHTF in spite of what they promised earlier. I have a handful of real friends, that have invited me and my family to stay at their home for as long as I need it and actually meant it, a friend that would literally catch a bullet for me, and I’ve met people that have let me down even with the smallest favour. A person I though was a friend did just that when I asked for a small favour. He got back to me the following day explaining he couldn’t do what I asked, but if I was ever caught in a mountain in the middle of a snow storm he would gladly drive up there to save me. We don’t get to pick the kind of help we need, that’s kind of the nature of a situation which involves asking for a favour. My advice would be to see if you can count on people for small things first, something that maybe isn’t a big deal and you could easily take care of yourself, but still ask just to see if your friendship is real or not and if you can count with that person. If they don’t come through for the little things you then don’t expect them to be there when SHTF bad.
When there’s considerable socioeconomic unrest, then there’s other factors to keep in mind. Maybe some people maybe CANT help you, even if they want, because they have their own problems and are already way over their heads. Then again, some people may pleasantly surprise you, maybe people you never expected much of. You just have to put yourself out there and make friends, make connections, test them and see what you’re working with for real when the chips are down.
When SHTF, you’ll need all the help you can get and so will the people around you. Given that in most cases people will not be as dependable as we’d like, all the more reason to work harder at it, build and strengthen those relationships with friends, family and neighbours.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

200 MPH Category 5 Storm Patricia hits Mexico and moves NE


“Catastrophic” is a word sometimes overused by the main stream media, but in this case it is the strongest storm in recorded history.

Catastrophic Hurricane Patricia Makes Landfall in Mexico

Hitting Mexico right now but moving northeast, people should prepare for structural damage, extended power outages and flooding.
For those in the area make sure to frequently check the news so as to stay updated.
Good luck everyone!
FerFAL

Letters from Survivors in Ukraine Part 2

Trucks carrying Russian humanitarian aid cross the Ukrainian border at the Izvarino custom control checkpoint on August 22.

More accounts from people living in occupied Eastern Ukraine. Part 2 with some more comments and thoughts, check part 1 as well in the previous post.
FerFAL
Pyotr Ivanov, psychologist, Luhansk
In no way do I intend to portray myself as a great visionary. There are more than enough candidates for the role of “civil war prophets” as it is. What I want to say is that, as early as June, I intuitively felt that all this would not end quickly, that the conflict would inexorably cause the destruction of infrastructure and the loss of livelihood.
FerFAL Comment: Its interesting to notice how often people will tell you they “felt” this of that yet didn’t act. While you can’t always run scared every time you think something may go wrong (and many preppers do this, bordering paranoid behaviour) a survivalist haw to know when to act on those gut feelings.
War is most disastrous for city dwellers. Their survival depends not on whether cherries ripen on time in their garden but on whether they receive their salaries or pensions.
I lost my job in June when my company shut down. Despite the shelling, I decided to look for another job in Luhansk. I turned to friends who were in a position to help. In other words, I acted according to my own stereotypes.
Other people who are, like me, hostage to the situation have other stereotypes — for example, a World War II veteran who lives close to my home. Until September, he survived on his savings and counted on his relatives for help. His relatives, however, left in June. In early September, he pinned his medals to his chest and went to the “Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) authorities” to demand the immediate payment of his pension (although no pensions have been paid to anyone since July). The LNR leaders simply shrugged their shoulders and said they couldn’t do anything for him.
In August, rumors began swirling that a humanitarian convoy was on its way from Russia. Everyone in the city began thinking about this convoy. People forgot about the war, about the bombs. All thoughts and conversations focused on the impending humanitarian aid.

Finally, the white trucks arrived. Residents were told that receiving the aid was very simple. All we had to do was show up at distribution points with our passports.
People almost murdered each other queuing up for these parcels. Rebels with machine guns restored order; there would probably have been casualties otherwise.
FerFAL Comment: Also common is that the grass is greener on the other side of the hill. The city dweller think he has it tough because of unemployment while other people in Eastern Ukraine living outside city limits complain that they never get to the food distribution trucks in time. The economic mess also affects farmers, just like everyone else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr38Sh1NKFE
What does a humanitarian parcel look like? It consists of two kilos of buckwheat, three cans of corned beef, half a kilo of sugar, and a pack of tea. I received humanitarian aid twice, and only because my neighbor queued up for me. Honestly, I could not have withstood a line of 300 people. This was the first time.
FerFAL Comment: Take note: Flour, canned meat, sugar, tea. Also dry pasta, sauce and rice. The stuff that will keep you alive.
The second time, the line had grown to 700 people. I know this because people wrote their queue number on their hands.
My neighbor had a seizure because of the heat and I took him home. We eventually got the humanitarian parcels, three days later.
I don’t know how many people received these parcels, and how many times. I’ve heard that some people had permanent coupons.
At some point I realized that this humanitarian aid wasn’t worth the calories spent on receiving it and I stopped thinking about it.
I held two jobs in the course of the siege. Then autumn came. Refugees started returning. Hospitals and schools reopened; many businesses resumed their activities.
Entrepreneurs, whose livelihoods relied solely on cash inflow from customers, enjoyed the most advantageous situation. I won’t go into the problems tied to running a business nowadays in Luhansk; they do exist.

The situation for public-sector employees was, and is, much worse. The most fortunate receive their salaries in the shape of food rations similar in content to the humanitarian parcels.
The question of public-sector salaries is still up in the air, since the legal status of schools and hospitals is unclear. The Ukrainian government’s decision to relieve itself of financial responsibility toward employees of state-run institutions in Luhansk and Donetsk put an end to any hope of help from Kyiv. On the other hand, there is obviously no local source of funding for public-sector agencies in Luhansk.
Many nonetheless continue to act in line with their stereotypes. They go to work in the morning, although they haven’t been paid for almost six months.
FerFAL Comment: Expect denial to be very strong. People just keep doing their thing desperately trying to gasp normality.

Viktor Alanov, social worker, Donetsk
It has unfortunately become fashionable to consider that all those who stayed back in the rebel-controlled territories are pro-Russian morons and accomplices of terrorists, that all decent people fled a long time ago.
It has become fashionable to state that this “cut-off slice” must be left alone, that there’s no point fighting for it. Let them die out there in their “Russian world” they wanted so badly.
Unfortunately, this stance is not only misguided, it is also harmful — both for those living in the occupied territories and for Ukraine as a whole.

A nurse cooks on an outdoor fireplace due to the lack of gas inside the Mental Hospital N1/4 2 on the outskirts of Donetsk in December.
Firstly, as long as these armed pro-Russians continue to run the show here, there is a real threat of war for the rest of Ukraine. This cannot be denied. Freeing all the territories is the only hope for solid and lasting peace in Ukraine.
Secondly, there are, indeed, many of these morons here. Many more than some would like. But there are also numerous pro-Ukraine residents here who didn’t participate in the referendum and the pseudo-elections.

Yes, we in Donbas have our “own way” of loving Ukraine. Not all of us approve of monuments being knocked down in our cities. Far from all of us regard the [World War II-era anti-Soviet] Ukrainian Insurgent Army and [Stepan] Bandera as heroes. Many of us believe Russian should enjoy the status of second national language in Ukraine. And no, let’s be honest, not all of us supported the Maidan protests.
We are, however, united by the desire to live in Ukraine, and we have not backed the separatists in any way. Today, in occupied Donetsk, former “anti-Banderas” supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity shake hands with “Banderas”; advocates of dual-language status shake hands with supporters of Ukrainian as the sole official language.
Do you understand what is going on here?
Here in Donetsk, we are uniting, which is almost unprecedented, while in “mainland Ukraine” we often hear that we don’t exist and that we must be “let go”!
On December 26, the rebels released about 150 Ukrainian fighters. Many of them were local men. Just look at pro-Ukrainian local groups on Facebook and Twitter! You will find very few (if any at all) real names and surnames, but behind every pseudonym stands a real Donbas resident, a Ukrainian citizen who wants to live in his country! Read what they write! Feel the mood that radiates from their conversations, which offer them a psychological escape from what is unfolding in our cities.
Please answer this question: What do these people, who are not guilty in any way toward Ukraine and its people, who live in areas where their country cannot protect them, who wake up and go to sleep every day with the knowledge they can be “picked up” and killed any minute, who are robbed and humiliated by pro-Russian militants, who have no means of publicly voicing their opinions, who are still clinging to the hope that their land will be reunited with Ukraine, what do these people feel when they hear that “all of them out there” must be barred from either entering or leaving, that they must be contained by moats and barbed wire, and deprived of electricity and gas?
You must answer this question not to me but to yourself.
An elderly woman pulls a cart with firewood near the Donetsk airport in November.
An elderly woman pulls a cart with firewood near the Donetsk airport in November.
And why then, when some claim that “only accomplices of terrorists remain out there, all the decent people have left,” are these “decent people” unable to find rented accommodation and employment? Where are they supposed to go when citizens of this united Ukraine treat them like lepers and don’t want to have anything to do with them?
Thankfully, such behavior is not the rule, although it’s far from rare.
Sooner or later, the occupied parts of Donbas will return into Ukraine’s fold. We have absolutely no doubt about that. Our country will be united again. But every one of you, brothers, must understand that, while we wage a ruthless war against terrorism, efforts must already be made to win the minds of residents in occupied territories instead of thrusting them aside — even of those who are now hostile to Kyiv.
With those who have illegally taken up arms, the talk can be short — they must, and they will, bear responsibility for participating in a terrorist organization. But sooner or later, a peaceful coexistence will have to be established with the others, those who did not hold weapons in their hands, however “strange” these people may appear today.
FerFAL Comment: Probably fuelled by a strong dose of “The Walking Dead” , common among American preppers is this WROL idea, thinking that during this “without rule of law” period everything goes. Not true. Eventually law is restored and eventually you will have to answer for your actions. That’s how it always goes, sooner or later. The lesson? Always stay on the right side of the law. If you have to defend yourself, make sure to take pictures, names of witnesses and make sure you know who you will call to back your side of the story when the police eventually knock on your door. Forget the WROL nonsense, they will knock on your door eventually.
The battle for Ukraine is not only waged on the front lines. It takes place in heads and hearts. Let’s decide what is more important for us: that Ukraine be united again or that “people out there die from their stupidity”?
Believe me, it’s much more difficult for us here to watch this “stupidity” than for you. But it will pass. Just remember how you traveled to Donetsk for Euro 2012. What unity with the whole nation could be felt back then in the streets of Donetsk!
What’s taking place in the heads of some Donetsk residents today is the result of Russian television propaganda. Why are people buying it? It’s hard to say. After all, more than 100 million people are “buying it” in Russia. But it will pass.
When every one of us — instead of seeking revenge against peaceful fellow citizens whose city happened to be occupied — asks himself how he can help us, then we will know for sure that peace and Ukraine’s return to the occupied territories of Donbas are within reach.
And yes, as soon as the war ends and it will be safe again here for all citizens of Ukraine, I promise to invite all of you, brothers, and give you a tour.

Nadia Nadezhdyna, sociologist, Snizhne, Donetsk region
In telephone conversations, my friends and I try to avoid answering any questions. You can feel the constant fear that people have of the new authorities, and life in this city is far from easy.
Even before the new authorities came, this city was depressed and dependent on state subsidies. The only successful businesses here were the Snezhnyansky Machine-Building Plant, a local branch of the Zaporizhzhya firm Motor-Sich, and the Zarya mine. Pensioners make up most of the adult population. And as it turned out, those retirees ended up forming the main social basis for the separatist movement.
Payments to those dependent on the state budget were chronically in arrears. Local authorities tried to make the payments by taking short-term bank loans. After Russian forces entered the city in early June and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk personally ordered local accounts blocked, residents seemed condemned to a hungry death. And in Snizhne, this happened more quickly than in other towns in the region.
In September, when the cease-fire was signed, local pensioners traveled en masse to Ukrainian-controlled territory to reapply for their pensions. However, in November, the government announced a complete financial and economic blockade of the territories within the zone of the antiterrorism operation (ATO). They stopped paying pensions and other social benefits to all except those designated as displaced. All the bank machines were shut down, as was Sberbank. This led many pensioners to despair. There were sufficient groceries and other goods in the stores and at the market, but they couldn’t buy anything because they had no money.
FerFAL Comment: Again, the same problem. The problem of not having enough money.
Over the last couple of weeks, anger has been mounting among the elderly and miners.
And this anger is directed at both the authorities of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) and Yatsenyuk’s government. Some angry reactions were provoked when several buses carrying miners were barred from traveling to Zaporizhzhya, in the zone controlled by the Ukrainian military, to pick up their salaries from banks there, where they had been sent months ago. They were stopped at a Ukrainian military checkpoint.
There is a lot of talk about the “checks” of trucks with foodstuffs at Ukrainian checkpoints. And there is some evidence about “confiscations.” A businessman named K. spent 40,000 hryvnyas ($2,500) in Dnipropetrovsk on supplies for his store. But he was detained and forced to hand over all his cargo to a distribution center.
Ukrainian authorities, too, are heavily criticized. Pensioners often complain about the huge lines to register in the areas controlled by Ukraine and about the bribes it takes to get service without queuing up. In Kharkiv, for instance, one pensioner waited his turn for two weeks before “settling matters” through people he knows.
There is talk that dozens of people have died of hunger and about a dozen have committed suicide. I won’t name any names. A couple of weeks ago, medical workers were speaking about 54 people dead and five who committed suicide. (Editor’s note: RFE/RL was unable to independently confirm these figures.)
FerFAL Comment: Don’t expect much of a fair treatment from the occupying force that invaded your country. My advice? Get the hell out of there before you’re surrounded!
Huge lines of pensioners form in front of the former office of Privatbank, all seeking financial help from the DNR. It works like this: You take a coupon for assistance at the social-security department and then you bring your coupon and get money. There is no information about how many people are served each day. Sometimes lines form outside the city at branches of Sberbank or Ukrpochta as rumors spread that they are handing out money.
People talk all the time about the shelling around the city. DNR representatives are tight-lipped about the reasons for the shelling and who exactly is doing the shelling, and this silence creates panic. People speak of columns of Russian military vehicles passing through the city. But for the most part, people are afraid to express their views openly.
Medical workers are unhappy that teachers and artists received money, but they didn’t. Social workers still haven’t seen a kopeck. But most pensioners are still hoping for Russian pensions and for the DNR to be admitted into the Russian Federation. And so they give their moral support to the DNR.

Viktor Alanov, social worker, Donetsk
I am a Donbas native. I am an ethnic Russian. I speak both Russian and Ukrainian fluently, although I consider Russian my mother tongue.
I was never anti-Ukrainian. I always took Ukraine for granted, a fact I considered neither good nor bad. I saw to which abyss Vladimir Putin was leading Russia all these years and I had long stopped associating myself with this country.

To quote the famous Yevgeny Kiselyov (not to be confused with Dmitry Kiselyov!), I will say this about myself: “I am a political Ukrainian.”
I highly valued the civil rights that I enjoyed as a Ukrainian citizen and that Russian citizens have long been deprived of. By the way, I always thought people did not sufficiently appreciate these rights and understood this would inevitably lead to attempts to take them away from us.
FerFAL Comment: Huge point right there. If you don’t appreciate your rights, one day you wont have them any more. A professor once told me rights are like muscles, if you don’t exercise them often you lose them. He was right.
I was never a fervent Ukraine patriot. I never felt any particular emotion when I saw a Ukrainian flag. I did not like the anthem much and I definitely never liked nationalists. But I was always interested in Ukrainian culture and against splitting the country.
Then came spring 2014. It was a time of unabashed idiocy and surrealism. Aggressive “defenders of Donbas” appeared in the streets and began assaulting residents of this very Donbas.
Before they received weapons (at least officially), they used antifascist slogans to attack peaceful demonstrations by pro-Ukraine Donbas residents. I remember one of their statements online. It read: “Fascists will rally on March 13. Let’s meet them. Take surgical instruments with you to rid them of their Ukrainity.”
These words were taken literally.
FerFAL Comment: Propaganda, violence instigation, social division. All powerful tools used often.
What is this, if not fascism? On that day, thousands (!) of people rallied in Donetsk for a united Ukraine. The demonstrators were attacked by the “defenders of Donbas.” They were severely beaten up, maimed, and activist Dmitro Chernyavskiy was stabbed to death.
It was a time during which ideas were distorted in a horrific manner, perhaps even more than now. Anyone who opposed Ukraine’s division was automatically branded a fascist, a “Maidanut,” a “Banderovets,” a subhuman. Even if you had never been a fascist, did not support the Maidan protests, and were not a [Stepan] Bandera follower, it was all the same to them — you were an enemy.

During the hysterical euphoria that followed the takeover of the regional administration building, it was wise to avoid this rabid crowd. You would have had no chance of a fair trial, lawyers, presumption of innocence. You would have had no chance to even be heard. The crowd demanded that fascists be dealt with, and the harsher the punishment the better.
Rules against the retroactive effect of laws did not apply in the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” either. All those who participated in the Euromaidan protests (both in Kyiv and Donetsk) were retroactively declared enemies and “sentenced to death.”
Once the bandits got their hands on weapons, things really got started.
A local lawmaker was kidnapped in Horlivka. His gutted body was found near Slovyansk. For what? Simply for opposing pro-Russian militants who tried to raise a Russian flag over the city council building. That’s all! In Slovyansk, an elderly man was gunned down simply for bringing water to a Ukrainian checkpoint. Anyone who publicly expressed support for Ukraine was thrown in a separatist jail, or worse.
FerFAL Comment: Flags, clothe colours, comments you make to a friend or neighbour, YOUR FACEBOOK comments! All of it can get you imprisoned or killed.
By the way, fans of the “Russian world” were somewhat upset that their leaders confronted Ukrainian nationalism not with internationalism but with bona fide Russian nationalism, monarchical bells and whistles, and a boorish rejection of all things progressive. For some reason, this was called “antifascism.”
These “defenders” then proceeded to strip Donbas residents of their freedom of movement (they established checkpoints) and violate their private property (they freely entered flats and vehicles at checkpoints).
It was precisely Donbas residents who were locked up, executed, deprived of their civil rights: free speech, freedom of conscience, and religion (Protestants and Orthodox believers of the Kyiv Patriarchate, for instance, were massively repressed in the areas controlled by the militants).
These “defenders” brought war into the homes of Donbas residents, even though they were not under any real attack. They also went for Donbas journalists as soon as they got weapons. And all this happened before Ukraine’s antiterrorism operation even began!
It was because of their attempts to storm it on May 26 that the ultramodern Donetsk airport, which had cost so much to build, was destroyed. It is them, the fighters of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” who confiscated the cars of numerous Donetsk residents (including Russian and Russian-speaking!). Businesses were raided, too. Many were forced to shut down because they had been looted by militants, and people lost their jobs.
Because of them, banks and post offices no longer work. Because of them, our school and university graduates are receiving bogus papers instead of real diplomas. Because of them, there is no legal and social protection here and pensions and social benefits are not paid. Because of them, we have to live in this unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic” that is not from Donetsk, does not belong to the people, and is not a republic.
After just a month in these conditions, you understand how much you actually love Ukraine! We were elated to hear on May 2 that the antiterrorist operation was entering its active phase.


Shattered glass in a room at a hospital damaged by shelling in Donetsk in January.
Unfortunately, our territories were not freed from the pro-Russians in August as we had hoped. But now, when I travel to the liberated areas and see Ukrainian flags and soldiers defending Ukraine, I feel a lot more emotional than before. I see that, a few dozen kilometers from our hell, our Donbas people lead normal, peaceful lives. They study, they work, laws and law-enforcement organs function. Yes, they are not ideal. But people there live in their country and they are protected.
Right under my window, I can see separatists firing toward the airport. We very much want to believe they won’t rule here much longer. I think I know one more reason why Putin just can’t resolve to leave Donetsk, although all signs point to this being inevitable and necessary.
He is afraid that, when the city is freed, huge numbers of Donetsk residents to whom he and his sidekicks inflicted so much grief will gather on the central square with Ukrainian flags. He is afraid of seeing this scene, because it will be the final nail in the coffin of his propaganda.

Nadiya Nadezhdyna, sociologist, Donetsk
Many local residents describe Donetsk’s bomb shelters as hell on earth. Dirt, stench, tears, and blood. Bunkers are full of makeshift beds covered with multicolored pieces of cloth and blankets and bed linens of various degrees of freshness. It’s damp and cold.

Anyone who has spent even just a week under shelling suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. There are currently hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in Donetsk with post-traumatic stress disorder. They almost never leave the bomb shelters, although no one is shelling them anymore. Whenever they go out, they jump at every noise, some of them collapse and go into hysterics…
FerFAL Comment: As sad as bunkers may be, you’ll desperately need one if bombs start dropping.
Heart attacks and strokes are common. But, of course, no data is available anywhere about post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctors are starting to talk about suicides. Nobody knows how many people died from the consequences of the war, either.
Doctors say: “If no one can give us a death toll from the war, then we definitely have no idea how many people died from its consequences.”
In any case, there must already have been thousands of such indirect deaths.
This lack of data is largely to blame for the state of bomb shelters. They are in bad shape, as rescuers and experts from the department of civilian protection and military mobilization already observed back in May. These services were discontinued precisely because there is no data.
I was able to find out that the technical inventory of protective structures started by the cabinet of ministers in 2009 was scheduled to end this year. It was never completed.
The available information paints a very bleak picture. Over half of the region’s protective structures were inventoried in the past five years. In Donetsk, this figure represents 56 percent, including 88 percent of structures owned by the municipality. By law, some bunkers are reserved for people working in big companies, while others are for unemployed people.


A woman waits in a shelter for shelling to end in Donetsk’s Petrovski district on February 4.

The majority of shelters were deemed uninhabitable.
“These structures were built in the 1960s to the ’80s,” the Emergencies Ministry said last spring. “They were well-maintained during the Cold War era, but today they are outdated. The equipment doesn’t function, for instance. The filters of the ventilation systems need to be changed, etc.”
One should also bear in mind the fact that many bomb shelters fell into disrepair when companies shut down in the 1990s. Most of these companies were privatized.
When disaster struck, people had nowhere to hide. If the Ukrainian Army had stormed Donetsk like the Russians once stormed Grozny, tens of thousands of people would have died. It did not happen, and so the situation with bomb shelters was tackled. Experience has shown that during emergencies, wars, or terror attacks, the state and number of bomb shelters play an important role.

The commission’s final conclusion at the time was the following: “The protective structures of companies such as the Donetsk Coal Energy Company, the Tochmash factory, the Donetsk Metallurgical Plant, the Donetsk State Factory of Chemical Products, and many other companies are not ready for use.” This became a death sentence for some local residents. These are the areas of the city that saw the worst shelling.
How are people supposed to survive in these conditions? Where are they supposed to run if they are at home or in the street during an emergency
This is why basements and underground parking garages were turned into bomb shelters. So were the cellars of schools, houses of culture, and hospitals.
Rescuers, however, are skeptical. “This is a place to wait out the danger,” they say. “But in the event of a direct hit, it won’t protect anyone. Even a proper bomb shelter won’t.”
Even several weeks ago, Donetsk residents did not take the guidance on bomb shelters issued by city authorities seriously. It seemed like out of a war movie. Attitudes have since changed dramatically.
The situation with bomb shelters in the areas at the epicenter of the fighting is dire. In the Leninsky district, which has been shelled from the Shirokiy suburb, there is only one equipped bomb shelter: in the 21st Party Congress-House of Culture. For many, it is simply too far to reach if shelling breaks out.

Local residents say that basements are locked and that they have to run to shelters as explosions go off and shrapnel flies all around.
“I need to run three bus stops to reach the [House of Culture]. If shelling started, we would not make it alive,” a young woman told me. She was with two children ages 3 and 5. The youngest was clutching a doll; the other pressed a kitten tightly against her chest. You could see fear and despair in their eyes.
Mafia groups are rumored to be running the bomb shelters. When the shelling starts, they let in only their own people and demand money from the others.
FerFAL Comment: Even more reasons to a)have your own b)explore and find other viable shelter options c) Reach some sort of agreement with such people d)Quickly and discretely get rid of such people.
There are several open shelters in the Budonyvskiy district, mostly basements on October Street. The only real bomb shelter is behind the Pushkin monument. It was built in the 1960s and is very solid, but it is unsafe to stay inside for long. It’s damp, moldy, and the walls are moist with humidity.
The situation in other districts is just as bad. But despite the awful conditions in these shelters, people continue living in them. They have no choice. The windows of their homes are shattered, the walls are cracked, and the roofs are destroyed
And so the bomb shelters have become their refuge. Even people whose homes were spared by the shelling are afraid of sleeping in them. They go to their homes only to wash and cook. They spend the rest of the time underground.
This is how life is now in Donetsk. One resident described it this way: “We live in basements. We queue for humanitarian aid. Many people are sick, many are dying.”
FerFAL Comment: There is still more to come. Some information is more redundant but other comments have new, interesting perspectives.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Letters from Survivors in Ukraine Part 1

A man walks past a building damaged in recent shelling in Donetsk's Kyivskiy district, near the airport,  on October 7.

A man walks past a building damaged in recent shelling in Donetsk’s Kyivskiy district, near the airport, on October 7.

There’s nothing like survival knowledge gained from real disaster accounts. The following letters from survivors in Ukraine are full of such gems. In some cases it may sound anecdotal, in others it may be specific to that particular place and time, but “this actually happened” is always more valuable than speculations.
The following testimonies are published by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. http://www.rferl.org
I added some of my own thoughts and observations. I hope you learn something from it and as always comments are always welcomed.

Mykhaylo Vasilyev, pensioner
Luhansk
Luhansk used to be poetically called “the city of fountains and roses.” Now it is the city of downcast faces. Sad, downcast, emaciated. And very tired — tired of having no money, mass unemployment, poverty and damaged homes, constant problems with electricity, water, heating, and telephones. But most of all, tired from the loss of hope.
There are downcast faces everywhere. On the streets, in the half-empty stores and various offices, in the remaining markets. A smile in Luhansk has become a rare thing, like a dandelion in winter. Smiles remain together with the interrupted peace — in the past, in our memories.
FerFAL Comment: In most disasters that I have researched over the years, especially long term ones, having enough money helped greatly. Paying for food at inflated prices, bribing your way out of war zones, paying for transportation, housing and settling somewhere better/safer. Cash is king and money makes the world go around. And when you don’t have money, you better have hope, because chances are you’ll have little else.
Gloomy people are very cautiously buying groceries. And gloomy clerks are sympathetically measuring out 50 grams of cheese or liverwurst, packing two or three cracked eggs into a plastic bag (they are cheaper and so in great demand), or weighing out a single frozen chicken wing.
FerFAL Comment: Just read that paragraph again whenever you wonder if you have enough food stored (and don’t forget water!)
But they categorically refuse to accept change. Change has become the subject of fierce arguments. A cashier in one downtown grocery angrily said they have several hundred thousand hryvnyas’ worth of change down in their basement and they can’t get rid of it.
The same is true of the 100-hryvnya notes with the little portrait of Taras Shevchenko that were given to many pensioners on the eve of the “elections” in the “Luhansk People’s Republic.” They, it is said, are no longer valid, banks don’t take them. And so stores and traders don’t either. Retirees are unhappy, upset. They swear a lot, but they don’t threaten to file a complaint. There is no one and nowhere to complain to. They just wonder, “what banks?” Not a single bank in Luhansk is open for business. Recently the last Sberbank offices shut their doors. There are long lines at the bank machines despite the cold.
FerFAL Comment: And while cash is king (and lines form at ATMs “bank machines”), all fiat currencies have their limits. The lesson here is have enough cash, have enough cash in more stable currencies such as dollars and Euros, better yet, have most of them in an offshore account and then for worst case scenarios have real money, gold and silver.
Now lines are forming at Internet providers. At the end of November, Triolan completely unexpectedly and without warning stopped providing free Internet services. So now hundreds of people are standing in line to get reconnected. There is great demand and few technicians. The infrastructure is damaged and express connections are going for 150 hyrvnyas ($9.60), which not everyone can afford. So, for many, even the Internet has become a temporarily inaccessible luxury. A window on the world has closed, one that enabled people to watch Ukrainian television. In Luhansk, they only broadcast Russian, Crimean, and Belarussian television. A door has closed to a world in which heroes are called heroes, terrorists are called terrorists, mercenaries are called mercenaries, and occupiers are called occupiers. And the latter are not portrayed as angels with shining halos.

That’s why there are more people than usual in the Internet cafes (8 hryvnyas per hour).
FerFAL Comment: Have your own communications. A small “world radio” can open again that closed window mentioned above. Also, expect propaganda and censorship. War or economic collapse, expect lots of censorship.

SONY FM/MW/SW1-7 World Band Receiver $104.95

But even in the Internet cafes, there aren’t that many people. There are noticeably fewer people downtown in general. After 4 p.m., it is better not to leave your home unless you have to. Offices and businesses “unofficially” close even around lunch time. “Night” grocery stores that formerly were open around the clock, close at 5 p.m. Why should they stay open when there are no customers? Even in the daytime, there aren’t many. As evening comes, it is scary to walk down the dark, deserted streets. Packs of starving dogs have flooded the courtyards of the central city. The dogs have bitten many people, but, of course, there is no one to try to catch them.
FerFAL Comment: This we also saw a lot after Argentina’s economic collapse. People that cant afford to feed themselves wont feed pets. Many just kick them out, and they form wild packs that often attack people, especially children. A little tip to keep in mind: you know when things get really scary? When these packs quietly start to disappear, and all of a sudden you just cant seem to find a single cat. Cats are the first to go, they word gets around fast that they taste better than dogs…
The faces of the pensioners are particularly gloomy. At 6 a.m., in the dark and the cold, they are trying to cram themselves into packed buses to go to Lisichansk or Starobelsk to collect their pensions. Who can say what awaits them during the many searches at various checkpoints? Or what they will be accused of as they stand, in their sunset years, in front of young armed men like prisoners of war before a tribunal or helpless prisoners in front of all-powerful gulag guards?

One of my neighbors has already traveled to Izyum four times, but still hasn’t gotten his pension. Some sort of issue with his documents. But he doesn’t complain and maintains a gloomy silence. When I ask him about it, he turns and walks away.

Complaining is not allowed these days. And in general many Luhansk residents who were formerly quite chatty have turned to silence. They might comment on the weather, but no one is speaking about politics, about the economy, about the state of affairs in the city. Even within the circle of their old friends or former colleagues. Who knows? A word is not a swallow that will fly away — many people are recalling 1937 and the black vans that collected the condemned. Shadows, they say, come at midnight.
FerFAL Comment: Lots of waiting in line, at times for days, for things that in other places are either automatic (a pension paid to your account) or can be fixed online or with a five minute phone call. Queues everywhere, for the most mundane thing, a line for bread, for cash at the ATM, for your document/passport.
Here’s a small example from the life of our neighborhood. After the heating season began, one homeowner began repairing a war-damaged floor. A neighbor thought the workers were too noisy and that they were bothering her, although they worked only during the day and were pretty careful. She told someone she knew who had connections in certain circles. Very soon, a few armed people in camouflage showed up, confiscated all the workers’ tools, and took the homeowner — as the organizer of the disorder — away “for a check” in prison (as they call the basements that have been adapted to hold Luhansk residents in rooms where 15 or 20 people share one wastebucket that is emptied once a day). Only after 10 days of truths and lies and agreements and who-knows-what-else, his wife managed to get him released. He’d lost weight. He’d aged. He’d become a different man.

In short, Luhansk, under the “LPR,” has become a city of downcast faces. A friend of mine who moved to Kyiv in the summer tells me that people in the capital can immediately recognize those recently displaced from Luhansk and Donetsk precisely by the particularly mournful expression on their faces, by the clear stamp of a unique wartime syndrome. How long must a person live in peace before that expression is washed away? And does it wash away entirely?
FerFAL Comment: Sadness and self-censorship. You never know who’s listening. My mother in law is like that these days back in Argentina. When my wife calls and talks politics with my sister in law, criticizes the government, her mother quickly reminds them to keep thier voice down because neighbors may hear them. What are they afraid of? Criticising the government in Argentina can get you in trouble, sometimes serious, sometimes not so much, but it’s still recommended not to do so, for your own good.
Pyotr Ivanov, psychologist
Luhansk
The siege of Luhansk this summer was predictable. The war was in full swing, the city was being shelled, and all those able to flee the city had already done so. Those who had stayed in Luhansk tried to stock up on supplies, bracing for the worst. When the siege began, people quickly realized that what they had considered vital items were actually not at all what they now needed.
When they prepare for war, people often fail to realize that they will run out of water, not of food! And when the water runs out, they find themselves surrounded by bags of grains of which they can only consume a handful, at best.
Water ran out in Luhansk on August 31. All of it. I mention this so that people clearly understand. Some people thought the shortages would affect only drinking water and bought large quantities of water purification tablets. But very soon, there was no water in Luhansk in which to drop these tablets! There was no drinking water, no tap water, not even puddles (it rained only once in August). In the first days of the siege, you could still find bottled mineral water in shops. Then it disappeared entirely. Two weeks later, bottles went back on sale, at the market. The price for it was twice — then thrice — what it used to be.
Then water started being delivered in vehicles. For free. As many as 200 or 300 hundred people would queue up, there were scuffles. Residents were eventually given access to the city’s water reserves. Again, hundreds of people would stand in line and scuffles broke out. The fighting ended when machine-gun-touting insurgents began supervising the queues. All in all, we gathered water at gunpoint.
FerFAL Comment: Remember what I said earlier about water? You run out of water, you run out of food. Eventually you realize you should have left. This is true for Syria, Ukraine, and it will always be true for any war-torn region.
For some people, another product is even harder to forgo than bread. Cigarettes. At least, cigarettes help to forget about food. Cigarettes disappeared in Luhansk two weeks before water. Smokers cleared up the shelves regardless of brand and price — the first huge queues in Luhansk were for cigarettes. A few weeks later cigarettes turned up on the black market, at exorbitant prices just like bottled water. By mid-July, a pack of filterless cigarettes cost 17 hryvnyas on the black market, almost two dollars at the exchange rate back then.
FerFAL Comment: Like any other drug, its wasted money, bad for your health and a sign of emotional weakness. You should be able to get by without smokes and without booze. Kick the habit now and don’t be one of those pathetic souls willing to trade a can of food for a smoke or a beer.
Today’s pampered consumers rely heavily on their fridges. They zealously pack fridges up the brim and are confident that with such stockpiles they can survive an atomic war. Just in case, let me point out that fridges require electricity.

Residents hide in a shelter in Makeyevka near Donetsk in mid-August.

Residents hide in a shelter in Makeyevka near Donetsk in mid-August.
FerFAL Comment: A good point often overlooked by prepers that just buy more freezers. Freezers require electricity, they also break down and offer relatively little storage space. Instead of filling freezers buy dried food and canned food, or invest it in canning equipment.
Electricity was cut off as early as July 31. We had no electricity for almost two months, right until mid-September. On the third day, a campaign started in Luhansk called “remove the rotten meat from your fridge.” It was conducted in those flats and shops that were still inhabited (or in the case of shops, that were guarded). Half of the city’s residents had already fled, leaving their fridges plugged in. These people held the “clean-your-fridge” campaign only when they returned, in September and October. Many threw out the fridge together with the rotten meat.
What did people eat during the siege? Almost all the shops were closed. Out of a dozen shopping sites in the city, only one still operated. The remaining products were sold there and at the market. The bakery worked round-the-clock, but there still long queues for bread. People feared there wouldn’t be enough. Elderly people started queuing at 5 a.m. Fortunately, the shelling would usually start later, after “breakfast time” as residents joked.
During a siege, candles and batteries are essential. Still, in the evening, you could see only two or three lit-up windows across the vast residential expanse. Many apartments were deserted. The others were inhabited but people in them could afford neither candles nor batteries.
FerFAL Comment: How useful those low lumen modes can be. How important it is to have batteries, common ones for your kit running AA and AAA. How much money you can safe with rechargeables. And a quality solar charger? Priceless!

Anker 14W Dual-Port Solar Charger $39.99

I cursed myself a lot for failing to put batteries in our old transistor radio. By the time I realized my mistake, I couldn’t afford to buy four batteries (the price for one had already climbed to $1.30). This summer in Luhansk, a radio was worth more than 20 computers put together. That’s because transistor radios stations can pick up stations that broadcast useful information, news. For some reason, more recent models like mine caught Chinese radio stations better than Russian- and Ukrainian-language ones.

So I would sit on the balcony in the evening, under the starry sky in a city without lights, without noise, and I would listen to Chinese music. In the morning, my neighbors would ask me to switch the radio on again tonight. As it turned out, they also listened to it, from their windows.
Halyna Mudra, mathematician
Donetsk

The Ukrainian president and his cabinet of ministers have imposed a total financial and economic blockade on territories controlled by the separatists. They have also stopped paying pensions and other social allowances to people there.
This has prompted the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (the DNR and LNR) to come up with their own measures.
On December 4, DNR head Oleksandr Zakharchenko and LNR head Ihor Plotnitskiy approved the action plan (or “road map”) drafted by the so-called “council of ministers of the republics.” The measures will allegedly ensure the stable payment of pensions and social allowances, create a financial system, establish regulations governing budgetary processes, set up a temporary banking system, which will in turn support socially vulnerable people, and create financial institutions while remaining in the Hryvnia zone.
The “road map” was first applied on November 4 in the town of Torez. In the building of the local pension fund, employees (who obviously now already work for the DNR) started distributing 1,000-hryvnya vouchers ($63) to pensioners. According to a special schedule, every day 50 pensioners can exchange their voucher for money at the DNR “bank.”
People start queuing up at 4 a.m. Fights and brawls are common — four people have already been trampled, one woman broke her leg. The militants restore order by firing their rifles into the air.
The pension fund handed out as many as 2,500 vouchers in just two days, which means the last of these vouchers will be exchanged on January 25, 2015! The lucky first 100 pensioners received their cash on December 4 and 5. The actual origin of this money is murky, especially considering that the DNR “bank” is based in the seized building of the former Privatbank, on Gagarin Street.
Interestingly, people already registered in Ukraine as people displaced by the conflict are not entitled to vouchers. Before handing out vouchers, pension fund workers open the Ukrainian state pension registry and check whether the claimant is listed on it. How come the DNR has access to the state pension registry? Obviously this happens across the DNR and concerns other government records!
Before the separatists took control of Torez in June, 80,000 people lived in that city, including 27,332 pensioners. Many have since fled to other others parts of Ukraine and to Russia. But while the number of residents has dropped sharply, the number of pensioners remains more or less the same. This means the DNR will need a year and a half and about 27 million hryvnyas ($1.7 million) to support all Torez pensioners for just one month!
Torez is now ruled by a “military commander” and a “police” force. Electrical and water supply is sporadic, banks and cash points are closed, government and official law-enforcement agencies have been evacuated. Ukrainian authorities halted the payment of pensions, social allowances, and salaries on July 15.
On November 17, disgruntled Torez residents blocked a street in protest. A DNR representative eventually sent the protesters home with the promise that payments will be resumed. This is why the first pensions were paid out in Torez. But pensioners are unlikely to be satisfied with the new system, not to mention disabled people and women with children. As for doctors, teachers, and other public sector employees, they have not been paid since July.

There were other attempts to mollify pensioners. Ahead of the November 2 “elections” of the DNR’s so-called “People’s Council,” for instance, all housing offices across the Donetsk region accepted applications for 1,800 hryvnya ($114) in retirement benefits. They sent people home and told people to wait. When the payments failed to arrive, impatient pensioners demanded their money. Now, pensioners are being asked to file new applications for retirement benefits, this time only to the amount of between 500 and 1,000 hryvnyas.
In view of the project’s complete economic failure, residents of the Donetsk region, even those who voted for the DNR, are starting to doubt. They don’t understand what kind of economic, political, and social system these “People’s Republics” are supposed to have. Who will take ownership of the region’s key assets — factories, mines, agricultural land, transport infrastructure, housing — is also unclear. And it’s precisely who owns these assets that will determine the quality of life, the level of social benefits and social protection of citizens.
If at least Ukrainian authorities understood that people need help grasping complex issues. For example, they could try explaining to Ukrainian citizens in the DNR the decree adopted on November 4 by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council [the decree spells out urgent measures to stabilize the socio-economic situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions]. Russian and separatist television channels have been brainwashing people since April. So I’m afraid Ukraine is completely losing the information war here in the DNR.
Folks, I think this is great information and a lot can be learned from it. Food, water, money, batteries, essential supplies such as medicine are surely precious as well. I think that the key is still to have means so as to not be there in the first place. Have a bug out plan. A place to go to, means to get there, and as I’ve posted many times before: TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Leaving in time means you can get the most out of what you leave behind, sell, or take with you. Running when the bombs are dropping is a tad to late. Expat or refugee, its all about timing. Feel free to quote me on that one!
Take care people. I’ll do Part 2 soon.
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.