Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 27 August 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The intensity of the fighting increased in areas closer to Donetsk city centre, resulting in damage to the infrastructure, and fatalities among the civilian population. In Lviv a group of protesters tried to force its way into the building of the regional traffic police.
In Kharkiv the SMM monitored the situation on the square in front of the House of Culture, where the Lenin statue had its head removed by unknown perpetrators on 26 August. The city mayor, Mr Hennadiy Kernes, made a public statement on 27 August condemning the incident as an act of vandalism.
On 26 August the SMM met with the head of the Luhansk regional police, who confirmed information concerning an incident reported earlier to the Mission by local inhabitants. The incident had taken place on 23 August in the village of Olexandrivka (around 90 km north-west of Luhansk) where, according to the SMM’s interlocutors, the 24th “Aidar” battalion had allegedly committed an armed robbery.
The SMM observed continued shelling in Donetsk city and the increasing impact on the civilian population and infrastructure. In the residential area of Kalininski district, around five kilometres east of the city centre, the SMM observed that the House of Culture was in flames. Several fire brigade vehicles were working to bring the fire under control. Nearby, the SMM saw several five-floor apartment blocks with shattered window panes. The damage appeared to be consistent with shelling. In the same area the SMM observed a burning vehicle. Inside the car, the SMM saw the remains of three persons. In Kievskii district, around five kilometres north of the city centre, the SMM observed significant damage concentrated on residential buildings and shops located along the Kievski Boulevard.
In Mospyne (five kilometres to the south-east) the SMM observed significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including a school which had sustained damage consistent with shelling. A group of elderly people told the SMM that basic food supplies, like bread, were already lacking in the town. They also said that they had not received their pensions for the last two months. The SMM also visited a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate which had sustained damage consistent with shelling.
The SMM in Kramatorsk (97 km north of Donetsk) observed that one of the previously shelled schools in the town was completely renovated by the Ukrainian authorities, with a new facade and window panes. More shops appeared to be open and people were visible on the streets.
At around 20:00hrs on 26 August the SMM observed a release of hostages/prisoners in Adviyika (around 30km north of Donetsk). As a result, four Ukrainian servicemen and one combatant belonging to the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) were simultaneously released.
The SMM met with the mayor of Pavlohrad (75 km east of Dnipropetrovsk) who stated that the removal of Lenin’s statue from the city’s main square (see Daily Report dated 26 August) could lead to increased tension between different political forces and movements in the city. He explained that the initiative came from representatives of “Svoboda”, “Right Sector”, football fans, and members of the volunteer “Aidar” battalion and added that a poll commissioned by the city hall in February 2014 had indicated that 93% of the respondents were against the removal of the statue.
“Right Sector” activists in Kherson informed the SMM about their plans to set up a battalion of volunteers called “Tavriya”. They explained that the aim of the battalion, unarmed and self-funded, would be to defend the region from any provocations and potential aggressions and that they had contacted the regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Border Guard Service to offer their services. They stated that they could help the Border Guard Service in terms of observation and information sharing on under-patrolled areas of the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL).
In Odessa the SMM observed a “Euromaidan” protest held in front of the City Hall building, which gathered some 50-60 people of mixed age and sex and around 15-20 people in military clothing wearing the badges of Maidan Self-Defence. The protesters complained about the arrests of Maidan activists in relation to the 2 May events. They also called for civil society representatives to be granted access to the meetings of the city council in order to oversee its work. The crowd tried to enter the city hall but were blocked by the police. Some 20-30 black uniformed anti-riot police protected the entrance door of the city hall.
In Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
On 27 August the SMM observed a rally held in front of the building of the regional department of the traffic police in Lviv. A group of 70-80 people, mainly young men, arrived at the building calling for the removal of the head of the department, whom they believed was connected to the old government. The head of the department approached the protesters and engaged them in discussion. However, as the head of the department left the scene he was followed by a group of protesters who tried to force their way into the building. A few minutes later, the group fled the building claiming that teargas had been used. The protestors then brought, placed, and burned tires at the entrance of the building. A fire brigade crew arrived and extinguished the fire. By 13:30 many protesters had left the scene and in the afternoon all protesters had dispersed. When asked by the SMM, the protesters refused to state their affiliation.
In Kyiv the situation remained calm.