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Mariupol is a port city on the Azov Sea in the Kiev-controlled part of Donetsk region. It is the 10th most populous city in the country. Further to the east lies the part of country that rebelled after an armed coup in the capital in 2014 ousted Ukraine’s elected president and imposed new authorities.
The city’s loyalty was long doubted by many politicians in Ukraine, and the mayor’s office may have dealt a heavy blow to it on Wednesday. It announced that the city-wide suspension of hot water supply imposed on April 1 would be extended until at least mid-October, and probably even further.
Ukraine, like many other post-Soviet nations, has a centralized heating and hot water supply, with the utility provided as a by-product of electricity generation by power stations. But the Mariupol municipal company responsible for it has accumulated a debt of almost $30 million, which the city budget cannot cover.
Many Ukrainians are installing home boilers, as utility prices continue to grow. But the price hike affects not only hot water, but also electricity, natural gas and other sources of energy, meaning personal boilers are not always a viable solution. Also, some people simply cannot afford the investment as they barely earn enough to afford food.
The country’s economy has dived under the new authorities, which chose to sever most business ties with Russia, justifying the move as being part of the choice to integrate into the European Union.