Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, based on information received as of 18:00 hrs, 1 August 2014 (Kyiv time)
This update is provided for media and general public.
The SMM accessed the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, together with an investigative team of Australian and Dutch experts – the first occasion since Friday 25 July on which a full visit had been possible. The SMM also visited the outskirts of Donetsk city to assess artillery damage.
The situation in Kharkiv remained calm.
The SMM monitored the situation in Shchastya (25 km northwest of Luhansk city). It remained tense, with audible shelling and small arms fire. At the Ukrainian checkpoint, the SMM was told that as of 1 August, 282 people had transited through Shchastya from Luhansk city and been checked. The SMM spoke to people who had fled Luhansk because of the fighting in the area. According to them, the situation in Luhansk city was tense, with heavy artillery shelling on 31 July. They said there were interruptions in the supply of electricity, mains drinking water and gas. The mobile phone network was, according to the interlocutor, restored as of 1 August, however they said there was no internet coverage. They said that most shops were closed, and people are running short of food; that public transport was not operating; and the ban on the use of private vehicles was still in place.
The overall security situation in Donetsk remained tense. Shelling on the outskirts of Donetsk city was more frequent than the previous day, with more activity in the evening hours. The SMM visited areas affected by shelling, located east and northeast of the city airport. These areas were exclusively civilian localities, with neither military nor police installations nearby. According to the inhabitants, the areas were shelled in the early hours of 28 and 29 July. The SMM observed damage caused by shrapnel. The SMM saw a house in which the interior walls had large holes, making it uninhabitable. According to neighbours, the occupants were not injured. Inhabitants whose houses and property was damaged presented the SMM with the alleged remnants of exploded Grad missiles, photographed by the SMM. The local inhabitants told the SMM, that four families from the affected areas had already left the city. Some other locals present voiced their intention to leave because of fear and uncertainty, with artillery attacks threatening their safety. Local residents appreciated the interest demonstrated by the SMM.
The SMM, together with Australian and Dutch experts, visited the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The convoy comprised 25 vehicles, including a bus and two mobile ambulances. The crossing of territories controlled by Ukrainian government or the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) or the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) went smoothly and was well organized. The SMM observed a new checkpoint positioned at Mius (14 km south-east of Debaltseve). At the Ukrainian checkpoint in Debaltseve (70 km north-east of Donetsk), the agreed ceasefire seemed to hold. About 10 kilometres south of Mius, the SMM was met by an “LPR” escort, and drove to the main wreckage site. The SMM saw several instances of artillery impacts at 7–10 kilometres southwest of the crash site between 13:03-14:19hrs. The expert teams recovered some human remains. The Australian expert team wanted to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in order to access areas such as fields, without damaging them. However, neither the “LPR” nor “DPR” representatives agreed to UAV use. After about five hours, the SMM left the site. The Australian and Dutch expert teams then left for Soledar (98 km northeast of Donetsk), where a forward operating base has been established. This base, closer to the crash site than Donetsk, will now become the main forward hub for investigative activity.
In Dnepropetrovsk, the SMM met with the deputy head of the State Emergency Service, who said that, based on their data, 8,247 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently registered in the municipality. The State Emergency Service organised bus transport for returns during this week, and a total of 94 people departed for Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
The situation in Kherson and Odessa was calm.
In Chernivtsi, the SMM met the deputy head of the Storzhynets district (33 km south-east of Chernivtsi), who said that anti-mobilization protests had recently petered out. According to the interlocutor, ongoing dialogue between local communities and police and military had helped to improve information about mobilisation procedures, and had therefore reduced protest actions among inhabitants.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk was calm.
The SMM met in Drohobych (78 km southwest of Lviv) and Zhydachiv (60 km southwest of Lviv) representatives from Polish cultural and scientist organisations. The interlocutors gave a positive assessment of the relationship between Polish and Ukrainian communities. According to them, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education had approved Polish language and cultural classes, which are organized at weekends. However, in Zhydachiv, the representative of the Polish cultural organisation complained that their municipality had allegedly not registered these classes. The interlocutor suggested that the reason for the denial could be financial, as the municipality might feel obliged to pay salaries to teachers.
The situation in Kyiv remained calm.