Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 12 August 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
Police in the Luhansk region accuse a volunteer military battalion of illegal detentions.
Municipal officials in Pervomaiskii (90 km southwest of Kharkiv city) told the SMM that public sentiment in the Pervomaiskii district is pro-Russian, with 80% of the population being ethnic Russian and a third of the district’s men working in the Russian Federation. People do not support the Kyiv government, they said. The officials stressed, however, that there was no appetite for separatism amongst the population – the maintenance of peace was more important.
The regional chief of police told the SMM in Severodonetsk (97 km northwest of Luhansk city) that the detention of supporters of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”), carried out by a volunteer Ukrainian battalion at the filtration checkpoint in Schyatya (24 km north of Luhansk city), was illegal. He likened the battalion’s behaviour to that of the irregular armed forces, adding that he was about to write to the Ministry of Defence, which controls the battalion, to have the battalion removed from the area. He said the mayor of Luhansk city, who had been detained by the battalion at the checkpoint, and whose whereabouts had been unknown since then, was now in “a safe place”, protected by the police, and considered a “crime victim”. The police chief did, however, say that police at the checkpoint were seeking out suspects of illegal activities. He said they had a list, and when arrests were made suspects were handed over to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
The duty officer at a medium-level security prison, located on the outskirts of Donetsk city, told the SMM that the prison had been shelled on 9 August, resulting in the death of one inmate and the injury of three others and three prison staff. The SMM observed that one building had sustained damage. The duty officer said 106 inmates had escaped during the attack but 60 of them had already returned and others were expected to do so.
People in the residential district of Kirovsky on the south-western outskirts of Donetsk city told the SMM that one woman had been killed, and an unspecified number of other residents injured, when the area was allegedly shelled on 9 August. The SMM observed significant damage to buildings in the area. On one street, the SMM observed a completely destroyed detached house and two nearby craters. On an adjoining street, the SMM saw that two walls of a detached house had been destroyed. There was a crater next to the house. On another street, the SMM observed a crater and shrapnel damage to a wall of a house.
Municipal officials in Kramatorsk (97 km north of Donetsk city) told the SMM that pension payments had resumed and economic assistance had started as of 10 August. They said that of the 80,000 residents who had fled the city, 40% had returned since it was re-taken by Ukrainian military forces on 4 July. They said the city was now regularly receiving an unspecified number of people from Gorlovka (43 km northeast of Donetsk city) and Donetsk city. One of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Gorlovka, now living in Kramatorsk, later that day told the SMM that up to 60% of the city’s 250,000 residents had fled the fighting.
An NGO in Dnepropetrovsk city dealing with domestic violence victims told the SMM that the conflict in Donbas had had no notable impact on domestic violence rates in the city.
The recently-appointed interim chief of Dnepropetrovsk Customs told the SMM that 12 grenades had been found in a car in Prosiana (105 km south-east of Dnepropetrovsk city) about a week ago. He said the car had been travelling between Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk cities.
At a roundtable discussion attended by the SMM in Dnepropetrovsk city, the deputy governor said attendance at pro-Russian rallies in the city had drastically fallen. He said the average attendance in February and March had been approximately 3,500, whilst only 32 people had attended one such rally in June. He also said that media broadcasts from the Russian Federation should be blocked, and other media outlets supporting separatism would face unspecified consequences.
The situation in Kherson and Odessa remained calm.
The acting head of the district administration in Hlyboca (30 km south of Chernivsti city) told the SMM that a lack of proper communication, rather than some underlying ethnic tension, had been the cause of recent protests against partial mobilization in the largely ethnic Romanian-populated district. The secretary of an organization representing Romanian-speakers throughout Ukraine – also speaking to the SMM in Hlyboca – concurred, saying that protests had in fact started in areas with hardly any ethnic Romanians.
The head of the village council in Berehomets (55 km west of Chernivtsi city) told the SMM that there were 22 non-registered IDPs in the village. She said that the council had refused to host young male IDPs because, she said, they should be serving in the army in the east.
The situation remained calm in Ivano-Frankivsk.
Ukrainian MoD officials gave a press briefing in Lviv city to journalists, clarifying legal issues related to the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” in the east, mostly focusing on the laws governing mobilisation and conscription. Ministry of Defence and municipal officials had, during protests in the region in the previous weeks actively engaged with protesters, explaining processes and apparently offering reassurances. The protests subsequently petered out.
The situation in Kyiv remained calm.