Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 13 August 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM visited Kramatorsk.
The SMM visited both international border crossing-points currently operating in the Kharkiv region – Goptivka (36 km north of Kharkiv) and Pletenivka (80 km northeast of Kharkiv). In Goptivka border guards said that they had not received any information or instructions related to the Russian humanitarian convoy and its potential arrival. In Pletenivka border guards said that they had been informed unofficially that at least part of the convoy was heading in their direction.
The SMM met with Kharkiv mayor, Gennady Kernes, who said that the decision about granting two Russian businessmen “freedom of the city” was not taken by him alone. There was a city council that voted on eight people. A large majority voted to have the Russians remain on the list, he emphasized.
The SMM met a journalist who had recently left Luhansk city. According to him, the “government” and “president” Bolotov of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were just figureheads. The real decisions were taken by Marat Bashirov, the new “LPR” “prime minister”.
The SMM learnt about cases of detention of two villagers in the Luhansk region. The head of Starobilsk police told the SMM that investigations had confirmed that soldiers from the 24th Battalion, a volunteer battalion under the control of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, was responsible for the abduction of the villagers, as well as their detention. In a meeting with the Ukrainian military commander of the security operation, the SMM was told that the military general staff had been visiting the area in order to assess further involvement of the 24th Battalion. The findings had not been revealed so far. The interlocutor said that, in his view, the 24th Battalion ought to be disbanded, reformed and redeployed.
In Kramatorsk (97 km north of Donetsk city) the SMM observed many families repairing houses damaged by the conflict. Local businesses were also doing repair work, and local markets seemed to be expanding, and providing more services. The SMM observed Ukrainian police and army performing mobile patrols and thorough control of vehicles at checkpoints in Kramatorsk. In Dimitrova (80 km northwest of Donetsk), the SMM observed around eight private vehicles, with visible pieces of white cloth tied around external mirrors, heading towards Kramatorsk. The vehicles carried around thirty civilians, who had written “Deti” the Russian word for children, on their windows , implying children were on board.
The chairman of Krivyi Rih (137 km southeast of Dnepropetrovsk city) local trade union in the metallurgy and engineering industries told the SMM that ‘specialist’ individuals such as tank drivers, and those with the rank of officer, were amongst those being targeted for mobilization. In some cases, the trade union organisation tried to negotiate with the military recruitment centre the exemption of specific employees with highly specialized skills, whom no one else would be able to replace. Where such exemptions are not possible, remaining workers have had to take on additional work. The interlocutor added that the metallurgical and engineering companies in Krivyi Rih were providing trucks, buying uniforms, equipment, and generators for the Kryvbas battalion. He said that people saw the security operation in Donbas as a barrier to possible ‘spill-over’ of the conflict into Krivyi Rih.
The SMM visited the Chongar (220 km southwest of Kherson) checkpoint on the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and observed approximately 20 cargo trucks and 10 passenger vehicles. The two queues were moving steadily with the passenger vehicles waiting only a short period, whereas trucks waited up to two hours to pass. At the ABL identification documents where checked and border guards asked passengers about the purpose of their visit. The border guards said that no special invitation letter was required for Ukrainian citizens to travel to mainland Ukraine from the Crimean peninsula.
The SMM went to the Kalanchak region (80 km south of Kherson city) and checked the North Crimean Canal and observed a temporary emplacement with sandbags to which the Ukrainian army was supposed to be soon deployed.
The situation in Odessa remained calm.
In Chernivtsi the SMM observed approximately 175 military personnel and 40 civilians at the entrance to the barracks. The civilians protested against a plan for soldiers’ deployment to different barracks/training grounds in the country, where they supposedly will receive additional training. The protestors said that they fear that, in reality, soldiers would be sent to eastern Ukraine.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk remained calm.
The SMM received information from police in Lviv about a hoax bomb call at the railway station. According to the police representative, the railway station was evacuated (approximately 700 people), and resumed operations after a bomb search. The police said that this was the fourth hoax bomb call at the railway station this year.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored the continuation of clearance of the streets around Maidan. The biggest barricade on Instituskaya Street had been almost completely removed, but other barricades and a tent at the top of the street remain. On Maidan itself, municipal workers were replacing the street stones, clearing the fountains and planting flowers.
The SMM monitored the process of the election of the leader of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) at Kyiv Lavra. During the event, two civil organisations protested against the Moscow Patriarchate, and its influence on Ukrainian politics. The SMM observed a small incident among the protestors, but police established a cordon between the sides, thereby preventing the spread of unrest.