Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00hrs, 4 August 2014
This update is provided for media and general public.
The SMM facilitated access to the Malaysia Airline Flight MH17 wreckage site for Dutch, Malaysian and Australian experts who are investigating the crash. The SMM observed damage caused by apparent shelling around Donetsk airport.
The SMM accompanied 100 Malaysian, Australian and Dutch experts, who accessed areas associated with the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The SMM and the expert team were escorted by armed personnel, at different stages, from the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” (“DPR” and “LPR”).
According to the representatives of the “DPR”, the target search area in the village of Petropavlivka (7 km south of the main crash site at Hrabove, which is 78 km east of Donetsk city), between the villages of Nikishyne and Mius, lay between the “DPR” and Ukrainian positions. After some delay, the SMM and the international experts proceeded to the southern part of the village.
The head of the village administration of Petropavlivka handed over some personal belongings of the crash victims, which local people had collected and taken to the municipal building.
People in Petropavlivka told the SMM they had no electricity for four days. In the village of Rozsypne (3.5 km east of Petropavlivka), people said they had no electricity or running water since 31 July, and that most of the inhabitants had fled the village.
A new search area between the villages of Petropavlivka and Rozsypne was identified, where a few personal belongings were discovered. While there, the SMM observed multiple incoming and outgoing mortars and artillery rounds at a distance of 2-3km from an unidentified direction.
In a suburb of Donetsk city, the SMM observed large holes in several external walls, and broken windows, consistent with shelling damage. People at the scene reported no casualties. They also said there was no electricity, but gas was still available. Whilst in the vicinity, the SMM was stopped by unidentified armed individuals and warned to keep away from the airport area due to the alleged presence of snipers.
The SMM was informed that Internet services were unavailable in the Luhansk region. The SMM in the northern part of the region experienced difficulty in accessing the Internet. Contacts in Luhansk city who spoke to SMM by phone told the SMM that most of the city had been without electricity or mobile phone coverage for more than a week. They added that people were increasingly finding it difficult to find food and fuel.
On 3 August the SMM observed two separate rallies in Kharkiv city, organized by supporters and opponents of Ukrainian unity. Some 100 people participated in each rally, both taking place on Liberty Square, separated by about 50 police officers. The SMM saw 25 police officers protecting the Lenin statue. No incidents were reported.
In Dnepropetrovsk the SMM met with the deputy chief of the regional military recruitment office, who said that in the new decree on mobilization issued by the President, breadwinners with at least three children would be exempt from military service. Furthermore, employers of mobilized reservists are obliged to keep their positions for one year and to pay full salaries for that given period. He added that there had been a significant increase in the number of people seeking to avoid being mobilized.
The SMM saw at Velikomikhailyvka (165 km southeast of Dnepropetrovsk city), a convoy consisting of eight jeeps and three buses, carrying approximately 150 armed men in uniform, and draped with ‘Right Sector’ flags. At the Ukrainian military checkpoint at Pokrovske junction (130 km southeast of Dnepropetrovsk city), ‘Right Sector’ members manning the checkpoint said the convoy seen by the SMM was travelling east to engage in the ongoing conflict.
In Kherson the SMM met a Border Guard headquarters liaison officer, who spoke about the tense situation at the border between eastern Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
In Odessa the SMM on the night of 3 August observed ‘Maidan’, ‘Right Sector’ and ‘Svoboda’ activists, approximately 60 of them in total, forcibly preventing a concert from taking place. The activists were angered that the singer – a Ukrainian – had accepted a Russian music award. The protest resulted in clashes with the police. Around 150 police officers were present. The SMM observed police physically intervening with protesters who had fallen to the ground, and chasing after others. The following day, police said that four activists and four police officers had been injured.
On 3 August the SMM observed police preventing an anti-war demonstration from taking place at Kulikove Pole in Odessa. The initial group of approximately 20 women was subsequently joined by 70-80 people. The deputy chief of police of Odessa region later told the SMM that three women had been arrested, on the grounds of ‘minor hooliganism”. The women were released later that evening, as SMM learnt from other sources.
The following day, on 4 August, the SMM observed 40-50 ‘Right Sector’ activists 50 metres from the entrance of the regional police headquarters building in Odessa. There was a police presence including riot police numbering approximately 120, with 15-20 buses in reserve. Both the chief and deputy chief of police spoke to the activists, who then dispersed after about one hour. No incidents were reported.
The situation in Chernivtsi and Lviv remained calm.
At Zabolotiv (80 km southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk), the SMM noted that a protest, organised by local Right Sector activists against three petrol stations, had been called off. The protests had seemed to have been unrelated to political or conflict-related issues (see SMM report of 30 July).
In Kyiv the SMM observed the removal of barricades on Institutskaya Street, just above Hotel “Ukraina”. Municipal workers removed barricades made of stones and tyres with the help of a truck and a bulldozer. Three ‘Maidan’ activists protested against the removal of the barricades. No incidents were reported.