Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, based on information received by 18:00hrs, 25 July (Kyiv time)
This report is provided for media and general public.
The human remains of more victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash were flown to the Netherlands. Protests against military mobilisation continued in western Ukraine.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Kharkiv city informed the SMM that 10 anti-Maidan activists – arrested following the take-over of the Regional Administration building on 7 April and charged with “massive public disorder” – had been released on bail on 24 and 25 July.
A pro-Russian activist – arrested on 29 June and charged with possession of bomb-making equipment – was remanded in custody until 29 August, following a second hearing at Kharkiv Appeals Court. The hearing was held behind closed doors, but the activist’s lawyer informed the SMM that an additional charge of attempting to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity had been brought against his client.
The Dutch and Australian Foreign Ministers attended a memorial ceremony at Kharkiv airport just prior to the departure of two aircraft for the Netherlands carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
The SMM visited four sites in Donetsk region related to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. At two sites, the SMM saw a wallet containing credit cards, three other credit cards belonging to three different people, two Dutch passports and a driver’s licence, a Malaysian identity card, and other personal documents. The documents had not been present on the SMM’s previous visits to these sites. At one site, the SMM noted that some debris had been cut and moved, and – in some instances – possibly removed. At another site, for the first time in four days, the SMM observed three emergency workers from the Ministry for Emergency Situations, who were handling a large piece of fuselage. They did not explain what they were doing. At the main crash site in and around the village of Grabove, the SMM observed, at three locations outside the village and at one inside the village itself, small pieces of human remains.
The SMM observed material damage to an apartment block in a civilian neighbourhood two kilometres east of Donetsk city centre. The SMM had received information the previous day that an unexploded missile had hit the building that day.
The SMM heard, on the night of 24-25 July what appeared to be shelling on the outskirts of Donetsk city. The following day, the situation in the city centre remained calm but tense.
In Starobilsk, in northern Luhansk region, a senior Ukrainian military officer told the SMM that Lysichansk (91km northwest of Luhansk city) had been re-taken by Ukrainian military forces on 25 July. He added, however, that security in the town had yet to be established. He also claimed that Shastye (24km north of Luhansk city) and Verhnayaya Olhovka (15km north of Luhansk city) – both under Ukrainian military control – had come under fire from GRAD BM-21 rockets on 25 July.
The “president” of the “Luhansk People's Republic” (“LPR”) – in a statement issued on the “LPR’s” website – called on abled-bodied men and women to join the “LPR’s” irregular armed forces.
In Zaporizhzhia (67km south of Dnipropetrovsk), journalists and civil society and political activists warned the SMM that the area, bordering Donetsk region, was prone to de-stabilisation. They cited the blowing up of a railway bridge in the area in late June as an indication of what might happen. They also complained about alleged corruption, saying there was public frustration at the lack of reform and change.
On 24 July, the chief of the border guard unit in Kalanchak (86km south of Kherson) – having just returned from a family visit to Crimea – told the SMM that there was no problem with drinking water on the peninsula. Desalination and purification plants were being built, five of which were nearly completed, he added.
The situation in Odessa remained calm.
In Korovia village (5km southeast of Chernivtsi), the SMM observed 300 people blocking a road in protest at military mobilisation, and in particular, what they alleged to be the selective nature of such mobilisation. According to the protesters, politically well-connected and/or rich people can avoid being mobilised. The SMM observed a similar protest in Priputia (21km east of Chernivtsi), involving approximately 200 people, mostly women, blocking the road from Chernivtsi to the Ukrainian-Moldovan border.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk remained calm.
In Sokal (80km northeast of Lviv), the chairperson of a Polish cultural NGO told the SMM that her community – comprising 30% of the town’s population – enjoyed good relations with their ethnic Ukrainian neighbours. She did, however, say that her organisation was seeking to have the local deconsecrated Catholic Church returned to the Polish community in the town. She also noted that there were no ethnic Poles holding political positions at a municipal level in the town.
The situation remained calm in Kyiv.