Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 17 August 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
In Kharkiv the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) arrested a group accused of organizing terrorist attacks in the region. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) described the impact of the conflict in the town of Pervomaisk, Luhansk Region. Protests against mobilization continued in Chernivitsi.
Representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and Ministry of Internal Affairs informed the SMM in Kharkiv that on 16 August six individuals, allegedly belonging to a terrorist organization, had been arrested. The suspects are accused of two unsuccessful terrorist attacks, one against a cargo train near Zmiiv (40 km to the south) on 7 July, and the other against Kharkiv’s tank factory on 3 August.
On 17 August the SMM observed a rally held in front of the General Consulate of the Russian Federation, where around 100 Maidan activists participated. The event was in support of Siberian activists in Novosibirsk (Russian Federation) advocating for the creation of an “Autonomous Siberian Republic”. Those attending the rally held Ukrainian and Siberian flags as well as posters calling for the creation of a “Siberian Republic”. Other posters read: “Respect for the sovereignty of the Russian Federation’s subjects!” The rally passed without incident.
On 16 August the SMM visited Popasna (90 km east of Luhansk), the last town controlled by the Ukrainian Army before Pervomaisk, which is currently under the control of irregular armed groups. In Popasna the SMM met with the mayor, who stated that at least a hundred suspects had been arrested. Earlier on 12 August the Head of Luhansk Regional Police explained that the police have a list of suspects at each checkpoint. The suspects are divided into two categories: the first includes “criminals” who have taken up arms or used violence or committed any crime during the conflict. These are detained by the Police. The second group includes those suspected of “separatism” – for example, organizing the 11 May referendum or other activities related to the insurgency. Suspects from this group are arrested at checkpoints and handed over to the SBU.
In Popasna the SMM also spoke to IDPs. They estimated that 60 to70% of the buildings in the nearby town of Pervomaisk, had been hit by shelling. IDPs also said that they believe many residents of the town may be trapped there, mostly hiding in basements. The town continues to be without water, gas and electricity, including the hospital and maternity clinic, according to the IDPs.
On 16 August the SMM met with representatives of the Border Guard outpost in Novoazovsk (120 km to the south of Donetsk) where it observed a one-kilometre long queue of various vehicles, reportedly with IDPs fleeing the country, and other long freight trucks. Many cars had the word “children” in Russian written on their windows. The Deputy Commander of the Border Guard outpost informed the SMM about an increased movement of civilians across the border with the Russian Federation after recent security developments in Uspenka (60 km to the south-east), where the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) had taken control over the area, establishing a new roadblock there. As a result, most of the IDPs preferred the Novoazovsk Border Crossing-Point instead of the Border Crossing-Point located close to Uspenka. He also added that IDPs were coming mainly from Snizhnoe, Torez, Donetsk, Shakhtarsk and Yenakiieva.
The SMM met on 15 August with representatives of Kryvyi Rih municipality (150 km south-west of Dnepropetrovsk) who stated that they had received 1,907 IDPs from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the past three weeks. According to the interlocutors, the recent influx of IDPs has not generated any problems thus far. The SMM also met with a Roma member of the local Evangelist church, who stated that they are currently providing support to 40 Roma IDPs originating from the Donetsk region.
In Kherson and Odessa the situation remained calm.
In Chernivtsi the SMM observed that protests against mobilization have continued. On 16 August a crowd of around 70 people, both men and women, gathered again in front of the city’s military barracks, where the SMM observed that 12 tents had been erected as part of the ongoing protest. On 17 August the tents were still in place. In the Babyn and Yurkivtsi villages (30 km to the north), the SMM was informed that on 30 July protests against mobilization had taken place in both locations.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv remained calm.