Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received by 18:00 (Kyiv time), 7 August 2014
Internally displaced persons from Luhansk continued to inform the SMM about troubling humanitarian conditions in the city. The SMM visited a Ukrainian Border Guard encampment, one kilometre from the Russian border, and saw evidence that it had been shelled. The SMM saw evidence consistent with an artillery attack in two high-rise blocks and a local hospital in Donetsk city. It also observed an unsuccessful attempt to remove the tent town in Kyiv’s Maidan square.
Over the past four days the SMM spoke to around two dozen internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Luhansk. They claimed – interviewed by the SMM separately from each other – that the city was without electricity, water and a mobile connection, and was being shelled practically non-stop from 4am to 2am. According to them, almost all shops, including pharmacies, were closed and people were running out of supplies. Drinking water and bread were almost impossible to buy, and tap water was un-purified. The IDPs also reported that people were burying bodies in gardens, since funeral service no longer operated. Public transport was not functioning and only a few ambulance teams were still working. In these interlocutors’ assessments, only people who were looking after bedridden relatives, or those without money, wished to stay in the city.
On 6 August the SMM visited a Ukrainian Border Guard encampment located less than one km from the Russian border, in the vicinity of Krasnyi Derkul village (54km north-east of Luhansk), which reportedly came under artillery fire in the night between 5 and 6 August, and early in the same morning on 6 August. The SMM saw smouldering forest and shrapnel fragments around the area, where the Border Guard unit had built underground shelters, and four shell craters in an open field on the edge of the camp. The SMM monitors with a military background assessed - based on the trajectories - that 122mm and 152mm cannons had been used.
Two senior officials from Luhansk City Administration and from SBU corroborated an account given to the SMM that the mayor of Luhansk had been detained in Shchastya (23km north of Luhansk) by members of the voluntary Aidar Battalion, fighting with the Ukrainian army against the 'LPR'.
The shelling of Donetsk continued. The SMM visited two high-rise residential buildings and a local hospital in the city centre, showing damage consistent with the use of artillery projectiles; and saw traumatised and crying civilians and medical staff (see SMM Report evening of 7 August). The scene was photographed by SMM. The team later saw the corpse of a middle-aged man in the city’s morgue, with trauma injuries to the upper chest consistent with those earlier described by a doctor at the scene.
The situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, and Ivano-Frankivsk was calm.
The deputy head of Prypruttya village’s council (20km east of Chernivtsi) told the SMM that removal of the roadblocks on 25-28 July in the area had taken place thanks to dialogue with regional and district military authorities and the Governor, who promised that nobody from the village would be drafted into the Ukrainian Army in the near future. However, the village’s council deputy head said, villagers did not trust this reassurance, and protests could resume if new draft notices from the Military Commissariat were issued. According to him, in Prypruttya, 177 people have received mobilisation orders, but most were working abroad.
In Chernivtsi the SMM observed a rally of some 15 people, holding six Ukrainian flags and one Right Sector flag, and banners with the text ‘Russia – sponsor of murderers’ in front of a local branch of the Russia-owned ‘Sberbank Rossii’. The activists demanded the withdrawal of licenses of Russian banks in the Chernivtsi region and painted the front windows of the bank white. Ten policemen at the scene remained passive.
The SMM observed a group of five women, members of local NGOs, gathered in front of the local branch of ‘Sberbank Rossii’ in Lviv – the women taped a poster on the windows of the bank with the inscription: ‘Support for RuSSia’s repressed women’, and attached a long string of women’s underwear held together by tape. According to them, Russian men fighting in the east of Ukraine would be more eager to return home if their wives or partners looked alluring. Twenty journalists and seven policemen were present during the action, which passed off peacefully.
The SMM in Kyiv witnessed an attempt to remove barricades from the Maidan of Independence square by men wearing vests resembling those of municipal workers. They were assisted by men in military uniforms with badges identifying them as ‘K2’ (Battalion Kyiv 2 under the Ministry of Internal Affairs). Maidan inhabitants tried to prevent it initially by verbal discussion and later by setting rows of tyres on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails. The SMM saw that three Maidan tents were burning. The workers, assisted by the men in military uniforms, subsequently left the scene.
After several hours, the SMM saw that the Maidan activists were rebuilding barricades. Workers meanwhile explained to the SMM that they represented a private company contracted by the city to clean up Kreshchatyk street and the Maidan square. They said they expected, however, that this had been agreed with the Maidan activists. The latter, at a press conference attended by the SMM, blamed authorities for using the methods of Victor Yanukovych and his government. The SMM monitored the scene until evening and observed a heavy police presence with no further incidents.
A director of a real estate agency in Kyiv told the SMM that many landlords in the capital city did not want to rent their apartments to internally displaced persons from Donbas for economic reasons and differences in mentality, while displaced persons from Crimea are not facing such problems. The interlocutor said that internally displaced persons from Donbas were now living with their relatives or friends, or in temporary IDP camps and other premises not appropriately equipped for the winter conditions.