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Daily updates from the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine available. Read more

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Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine - based on information received up until 21 April 2014, 20:00 (Kyiv time)

This update is provided for the media and the public.

The second day of Easter passed quietly in the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian regions, including Odessa and Kherson. Huge tension remained in Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk districts) related to the activities of opponents of the Government, some of whom were armed, and due to the continued occupation of administrative buildings. The situation was cause for increased concern in Luhansk, where local separatists elected their own governor and called for a referendum on joining Russia. 

In Kharkiv, police presence was notably enhanced and major city centre streets as well as two metro stations were closed due to an anti-Maidan rally on Liberty Square. The Special Monitoring Mission also observed a rally where participants elected a so-called “people’s government”. The demonstration gathered a smaller number of participants (around 500 at peak times) than during previous weekends. The protesters, mostly middle-aged workers and pensioners, called for the resignation of the city mayor and prosecutor as well as the return of Viktor Yanukovych. They also elected their own “governor” – Volodymyr Varshavsky. The worsening economic situation was mentioned as a major concern and motivating factor for participating in the demonstration.

On 20 April the Special Monitoring Mission visited a roadblock near Rayhorodka village (45 km northeast of Luhansk) manned by approximately ten people (men and women) in civilian clothes, including the local Orthodox priest. They stated that they were residents of Rayhorodka and set up the roadblock on 14 April to protect the area from the separatists. According to the local commander of the Ukrainian army, no serious incidents at the roadblock had occurred so far, but they could see unknown armed individuals in civilian clothes approaching the roadblock at night.

On the evening of 20 April, in Luhansk, leaflets were posted calling on inhabitants to join a demonstration on 21 April in front of the occupied state security service (SBU) building. The agenda of the rally envisioned voting for new deputies that would represent the people of Luhansk district as well as calling for a referendum on 11 May. The referendum would offer three options: be part of a Ukrainian Federation, join the Russian Federation or remain part of a unitary Ukraine. The leaflet also included a warning addressed to the interim government not to make an attempt to halt activities of the demonstrators – otherwise Russia would be asked to send troops to protect the local population.

On 21 April, the monitors observed a reinforcement of the barricade with sandbags at various locations around the perimeter of the occupied SBU building. Hand-drawn posters around the barricade were gradually being replaced with professionally produced banners. A public meeting outside the SBU building began at 10:00. The protesters – initially about 300 people – remained peaceful. Some of the participants within the cordons were openly displaying hand-held weapons. By 15:00, the crowd reached about 1,500 people. Speakers reiterated that they were not separatists and sought a peaceful solution, which would allow Luhansk to remain within Ukraine.

In Donetsk, on 21 April at 09:30, the Special Monitoring Mission met with the Mayor in order to discuss the situation in the city and region. The team visited also the towns of Makiyivka and Khartsysk, both in close proximity to Donetsk.

In Makiyivka the team noticed the presence of a flag of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic as well as four unmasked and unarmed individuals in front of the main entrance of the Town Hall. They introduced themselves as locals protecting the building from looting and rendering assistance to the local administration police. The representative of the group claimed that the men had thwarted several attempts of vandalism perpetrated by supporters of the Government. Inside the building the team observed around fifteen unarmed and unmasked individuals – some of them wearing flak jackets and carrying batons.

In Khartsysk, the Town Hall was also found to be occupied and surrounded by a barricade of tires and wood manned by five unarmed and unmasked people sitting by the main entrance. The monitors observed several armed men in uniforms exiting and entering the building bearing “Berkut” laminated badges on their chests with the official Ukrainian coat of arms as well as St. George ribbons. Similarly to in Makiyivka, the men explained their presence in the vicinity of the Town Hall as a necessity to provide security to the local institutions.

In Kramatorsk, monitors of the Special Monitoring Mission talked to witnesses who were able to confirm reports that armed individuals who called themselves supporters of the so-called “Donetsk Republic” entered the premises of Kramatorsk police department and abducted its head, Colonel Vitaliy Kolupai, who is being kept against his will.

In other parts of the country – including the cities of Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv and the respective districts - the situation remained calm with regular police presence. Everywhere people celebrated the second day of Easter. The Chernivtsi team visited an area close to the border of Romania (Krasnoilisk, around 43 south-west of Chernivtsi). People they met on the street were concerned about the situation in the East and the deteriorating security of the country. They voiced no complaints regarding their right to use minority languages, but were dissatisfied with the high level of corruption (including in health care), the economic situation of the state as well as the vulnerability of its economy towards the Russian Federation.

The Lviv team met with the Head of the Right Sector in the city. He declared that all activities of the Right Sector were aimed at supporting the efforts to enhance the defense of the country (including. registering volunteers, providing them with basic physical training without weapons) and that they were co-ordinated with the National Security Council of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He also asserted that the Right Sector had dissolved its militant wing. It was transforming into a political party and did not consider itself to be a part of the "armed groups" mentioned in the Geneva Statement.

Also in Kyiv, the situation was calm. The Special Monitoring Mission visited a chief ataman of a Cossack organization in hospital who had been beaten three days earlier. 

22 April 2014
The second day of Easter passed quietly in the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian regions, including Odessa and Kherson. Huge tension remained in Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk districts) related to the activities of opponents of the Government, some of whom were armed, and due to the continued occupation of administrative buildings. The situation was cause for increased concern in Luhansk, where local separatists elected their own governor and called for a referendum on joining Russia.
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Ukraine Acting Foreign Minister Deshchytsia and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Apakan meet on implementation of Geneva Statement

KYIV, Ukraine, 19 April, 2014 –Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), Amb. Ertugrul Apakan, met today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.  The meeting was also attended by representatives of the participants of the 17 April Geneva meeting – the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States. 

At the meeting it was agreed to move ahead rapidly with the practical implementation of the Geneva Statement. In this regard the meeting’s participants recognized the need to take immediate concrete steps towards de-escalation. Deshchytsia informed on first steps already taken in this direction.  Apakan informed of plans to send the Deputy Chief Monitor to Eastern Ukraine today to work on the practical modalities of the implementation, as well as on the ongoing work of the monitoring teams on the ground.

The participants in the meeting agreed to meet regularly in the coming days to co-ordinate implementation of the Geneva Statement as swiftly as possible.

19 April 2014
KYIV, Ukraine, 19 April, 2014 –Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), Amb. Ertugrul Apakan, met today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the participants of the 17 April Geneva meeting – the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States.
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OSCE ready to assist Ukraine in implementing de-escalation measures agreed today in Geneva, says CiO

Bern, April 17, 2014 - Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter welcomed the outcome of the discussions between the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, the United States and the Russian Federation as well as the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who met today in Geneva.

Burkhalter underlined that the OSCE was ready to take up the key role given to the Special Monitoring Mission in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of the various measures agreed in the Geneva Statement. He praised the Geneva Statement as an expression of confidence towards the OSCE as an inclusive platform for supporting de-escalation in Ukraine.

“As new tasks and responsibilities have been assigned to the OSCE, I count on the continuous international support in funding and seconding of staff to the Special Monitoring Mission,” he added.

17 April 2014
Bern, April 17, 2014 - Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter welcomed the outcome of the discussions between the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, the United States and the Russian Federation as well as the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who met today in Geneva.
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Journalists face violence, intimidation and psychological warfare in conflict areas in Ukraine says OSCE Representative

ODESA, 16 April 2014 - Ending her three-day visit to Ukraine, OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatović today said that the media freedom situation in Ukraine has reached a very dangerous stage, and she alerted OSCE participating States that unless this trend is reversed it could contribute to the deterioration of the security situation. 

"Media freedom is a reflection of the overall security situation. From my perspective the situation is alarming, with risk of further deterioration unless it is immediately improved. Violence against journalists must stop now and the rule of law needs to be restored throughout the country," Mijatović said.

On 14-16 April Mijatović travelled to Kharkiv, Kyiv and Odesa to meet with journalists from these regions and from Donetsk, Mykolayiv and Crimea. She discussed journalists’ safety, banning of broadcasters and blocking of journalists from entering Ukraine with members of the media, acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsa and Deputy Interior Minister Mykola Velychkovych.

"Journalists are under attack, both physically and as part of the ongoing psychological warfare. Journalists in conflict areas face violence, seizure and destruction of equipment, and threats on a daily basis,” Mijatović said.

“Journalists in Crimea face additional problems with media re-registration, possible eviction from the region if they are not considered loyal and do not change citizenship, vicious labelling, threats and denial of access to public information.”

The journalists that met with the Representative reported that they see little or no protection from police and other law-enforcement agencies. The cases of police violence against journalists that occurred under the previous government have not yet been investigated.

In the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions there have been a number of attacks against members of the media during the past few days. The attacks include the beating of Yevgen Polojii, editor of Panorama, and Mikhail Dugin of Polytavska Dumka-2000.

In addition, a BBC television crew and Frederick Paxton of Vice News were threatened and had their equipment stolen or destructed. Graham Phillips, a freelance journalist for RT, Alexander Belinsky, editor of Gorlovka.ua and journalists from Hromadske TV and Lenta.ru were kidnapped and then released. The offices of Gorlovka.ua and newspaper Kriminal Ekspress were vandalized and cars belonging to Alexei Matsuka of Novosti Donbassa and to Odesa First City Channel were set on fire.

"I have heard alarming first-hand accounts of the attacks against journalists. The authorities must do their utmost to protect all journalists. Freedom of media and information are essential in times of crisis as a way to de-escalate the conflict,” Mijatović said.

“There must be no impunity for crimes committed against media representatives. I also appeal to the journalists to have solidarity, report the truth and to stay safe."

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.

16 April 2014
ODESA, 16 April 2014 - Ending her three-day visit to Ukraine, OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatović today said that the media freedom situation in Ukraine has reached a very dangerous stage, and she alerted OSCE participating States that unless this trend is reversed it could contribute to the deterioration of the security situation.
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Joint responsibility to prevent further escalation, says OSCE Chairperson-in-office

Kyiv/Odessa, April 14, 2014 - During his visit to Ukraine today, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, expressed his full political support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. By gathering information and observing, establishing facts and reporting them in an impartial manner, the monitors “are the eyes and ears of the international community in Ukraine”, Burkhalter said. In order to enhance transparency and the level of accurate information about ongoing developments, the Mission in addition to providing reports for OSCE participating States has also started a daily public reporting, he continued.

Burkhalter met with the Chief Monitor, Ambassador Ertogrul Apakan and his two deputies, Mark Etherington and Alexander Hug. They discussed, among other aspects, the next steps in scaling up the mission, which counts 129 staff at the moment. Furthermore, he encouraged the mission to engage in dialogue facilitation in its areas of activities. In Odessa, to where he travelled after the meetings in Kyiv, he used the opportunity to discuss the situation with monitors and to gain insights in their work.

The OSCE is well positioned to assist in resolving the crisis with peaceful means, Burkhalter pointed out. He underlined the importance of the OSCE/ODIHR mission for the observation of the upcoming presidential elections on May 25 and of the National Dialogue Project.

In meetings with Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and Acting  Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, he discussed both the activities of the OSCE in Ukraine and the evolving security situation. Referring to recent violent events in the eastern part of the country, Burkhalter expressed his deep concern and reiterated that the state monopoly on the use of force must be respected. He suggested that at this critical moment all actors involved should call publicly on all sides to strictly refrain from violence and from any measure which could lead to destabilization.

“It is our joint responsibility to prevent further escalation and to strictly stick to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act including the non-use of force, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes”, Burkhalter underlined. He called upon all sides to do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation and to choose the path of dialogue and constructive cooperation over confrontation.

He welcomed plans of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the US and the EU to meet in Geneva on April 17. Referring to his proposal for a Contact Group during his presentation to the UN Security Council on February 24, he stressed the importance of dialogue among major external actors in this crisis.

14 April 2014
Kyiv/Odessa, April 14, 2014 - During his visit to Ukraine today, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, expressed his full political support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. By gathering information and observing, establishing facts and reporting them in an impartial manner, the monitors “are the eyes and ears of the international community in Ukraine”, Burkhalter said. In order to enhance transparency and the level of accurate information about ongoing developments, the Mission in addition to providing reports for OSCE participating States has also started a daily public reporting, he continued.
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Situation remains tense in eastern Ukraine, OSCE monitors observe

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) assessed the security situation in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and the town of Sloviansk as tense and evolving, based on its observations on Sunday, 13 April 2014.

As the monitors moved about the cities to gather information, they were able to listen to the concerns of the local population, often initially mistrustful, and explain to them the OSCE role and its broad participation of states including Russia and Ukraine.

A monitoring team that went to Sloviansk, following reports of an attempt by Ministry of Interior forces to regain the occupied police building, encountered multiple roadblocks before being permitted to enter the town by heavily armed masked men. They spoke with people on the streets, at the barricades surrounding the occupied police building and in the town’s hospital.

In the city of Donetsk, although the number of barricades at the occupied Oblast Administration Building and tents on Lenin Square did not appear to be increasing and no pedestrians were observed near the regional police headquarters, the monitors judged that the situation could deteriorate.

In Kharkiv the monitors noted a large police presence, with up to 600 protesters in Shevchenko Park and a different group of around 2,000 protesters, who moved to the City Administration Building in the mid-afternoon. City Mayor Gennady Kernes addressed the crowd, after an initial delay, calling for a stop to the blockade and negotiations.

In Luhansk the situation also remained tense, with up to 5,000 people in front of the Luhansk Security Service Building and more than 5,000 supporters in the neighbouring park.

Teams of OSCE monitors have been working in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk since the end of March. Their deployment follows the decision of the OSCE Permanent Council of 21 March to deploy the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for an initial period of six months. The mission consists initially of 100 civilian monitors, and can be expanded to 500 people. The Mission’s mandate covers the whole territory of Ukraine, but monitors are initially being deployed to Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Luhansk and Kyiv.

14 April 2014
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) assessed the security situation in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and the town of Sloviansk as tense and evolving, based on its observations on Sunday, 13 April 2014.
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OSCE Chair calls for stopping confrontation in eastern Ukraine

BERN, 13 April 2014 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter today called upon all sides to move the situation away from confrontation and to act responsibly in order to reduce tensions and avoid further violence in eastern Ukraine.

Referring to reports of OSCE monitoring teams from the Special Monitoring Mission on the ground, Burkhalter expressed his concerns over a number of incidents in various parts of the Donetsk Oblast and in Kharkiv.

In the light of recent developments, most notably in Slavjansk where clashes occurred and OSCE monitoring teams are also following the course of events on the ground, the tense situation could spiral in a menacing direction, he said. Therefore, everyone should refrain from actions which might fuel tensions further and trigger hardly controllable dynamics, he continued.

All sides should be aware that the issues at stake cannot be solved through violence, but must be addressed in a democratic and lawful manner in order to find sustainable and lasting solutions, Burkhalter confirmed.

Everyone must respect the state monopoly on the use of force, Burkhalter emphazised; at the same time it is essential that law enforcement ensure a measured and appropriate response, he underlined.

The CiO will travel to Kyiv today and have talks with members of the interim government and the Special Monitoring Mission tomorrow.

Teams of OSCE monitors have been working in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk since the end of March. Their deployment follows the decision of the OSCE Permanent Council of 21 March to deploy the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for an initial period of six months. The mission consists initially of 100 civilian monitors, and can be expanded to 500 people. The Mission’s mandate covers the whole territory of Ukraine, but monitors are initially being deployed to Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Luhansk and Kyiv.

13 April 2014
BERN, 13 April 2014 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter today called upon all sides to move the situation away from confrontation and to act responsibly in order to reduce tensions and avoid further violence in eastern Ukraine.
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OSCE Chair to meet Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine

BERN, 11 April 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, will travel to Ukraine and meet the Special Monitoring Mission on Monday, 14 April.

He will visit the training venue of monitors in Kyiv who will subsequently be deployed to various regions in Ukraine. Their task is to gather information and report on the security, as well as on the human rights situation, including the rights of national minorities.

Burkhalter will meet with Ambassador Ertogrul Apakan, who will begin work as Chief Monitor that day. Burkhalter will have talks with the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andrii Deshchytsia, before continuing his trip to visit monitors working in one of the regions.

The Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was decided upon by the Permanent Council of the OSCE on 21 March 2014. Its aim is to contribute to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security. As of Thursday, 10 April 2014, the total number of staff has risen to 123 from 40 participating States, of which 85 are currently deployed as monitors to Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Luhansk and Kyiv.

11 April 2014
BERN, 11 April 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, will travel to Ukraine and meet the Special Monitoring Mission on Monday, 14 April...
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Personal Envoy of the Swiss OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to Ukraine and Conflict Prevention Centre Director to present reports to OSCE PC Thursday

VIENNA, 9 April 2014 - Personal Envoy of the Swiss OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Ukraine Ambassador Tim Guldimann will brief participating states and senior OSCE officials on Thursday 10 April 2014, at 10:00 in Vienna, on his latest visit to Ukraine and discussions with key parties on the ground.

Guldimann's briefing will be followed by the first interim report of Acting Chief of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Adam Kobieracki, and the introductory presentation of the newly appointed Chief Monitor Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey.

Journalists and photographers are invited to cover the statements of the first three speakers, Ambassadors Guldimann, Kobieracki and Apakan. Statements can also be followed at www.osce.org/live. The rest of the Permanent Council will be closed to media members.  However, individual briefing opportunities by participants may be available at the end of the meeting.

Prior notice of attendance is needed: please contact press@osce.org

9 April 2014
VIENNA, 9 April 2014 - Ambassador Tim Guldimann, Personal Envoy of the Swiss OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Ukraine, will brief participating states and senior OSCE officials on Thursday 10 April 2014 in Vienna on his latest visit to Ukraine and discussions with key parties on the ground.
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Swiss OSCE Chair appoints Chief and Deputy Chief Monitors for Ukraine

BERN, 2 April 2014 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter today expressed satisfaction with the state of deployment of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

Ten advance teams have successfully deployed throughout the country to all the locations foreseen (Chernivtsi, Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv and Odessa). Seconded monitors are joining the advance teams this week, with all deployment going according to schedule.

As of Wednesday, 2 April, 2014, the total number of staff in the Special Monitoring Mission, which in a first phase will consist of 100 and may expand up to 500 monitors, has risen to 63. More than 600 applications were submitted in response to the first vacancy note. 30 participating States are currently represented in the Mission.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the participating States that volunteered to second high-quality candidates on such short notice, as well as to all those who have offered to support the Mission through financial or material contributions. Without the prompt and generous contributions of all, the Special Mission could not have been deployed in such an effective way” Burkhalter said.

He was grateful to the acting Chief Monitor Ambassador Adam Kobieracki for skillfully launching the mission and overseeing the deployment of advance teams across Ukraine, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office added.

He also wished to thank the host country of the Mission, Ukraine, for the efficient cooperation, he continued.

Burkhalter announced the appointment of Ambassador Ertogrül Apakan of Turkey as Chief Monitor and of Mr. Mark Etherington of the United Kingdom and Mr. Alexander Hug of Switzerland as Deputy Chief Monitors of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

Ambassador Apakan has had a longstanding diplomatic career, most recently as Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations (2009 – 2012) and as Undersecretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006 – 2009).

Mark Etherington, in addition to OSCE experience as Senior Mission Liaison Officer, has been Team Leader in South Sudan and Team Leader for the UK Government Stabilisation Unit with field missions to various countries on behalf of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Currently Head of Section/Senior Advisor at the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Alexander Hug has worked as Head of Human Rights & Gender Officer for EULEX Kosovo and has held various positions in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

“Ambassador Apakan, Mr. Etherington and Mr. Hug bring a wealth of experience and regional expertise to the Special Monitoring Mission as it enters its full deployment and operational stage”, Burkhalter said. “Under their leadership, I trust that the Special Monitoring Mission will contribute to fostering peace, stability and security and to reducing tensions on the ground in Ukraine,” he concluded.
 

2 April 2014
BERN, 2 April 2014 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter today expressed satisfaction with the state of deployment of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and announced the appointment of the Chief Monitor and Deputy Chief Monitors.
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