Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 31 August 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
Donetsk city was affected by sporadic shelling in the early hours of 31 August. “DPR” announced its intention to release 15 Ukrainian soldiers held in Ilovaysk. The situation in Mariupol was calm; the SMM observed checkpoints around the city.
In Kharkiv city the situation remained calm.
The SMM visited Shchastya (25km north of Luhansk city) and received information from IDPs that Luhansk city remained without water, electricity and gas. The local Red Cross was, according to several interlocutors, distributing humanitarian assistance in schools. According to the IDPs only one hospital was operational, using its own electric generator. Shelling however decreased over the last couple of days, the interlocutors said. The SMM was informed that on 29 August, 467 people and 99 cars passed through Shchastya filtration point. On 31 August the number of IDPs had already reached 300 by 11:00hrs, according to Ukrainian police present at the filtration point.
In Donetsk city the SMM observed sporadic shelling in the very early hours of 31 August. The SMM met with the “prime minister” of the “Donetsk People's Republic” (“DPR”) Alexander Zaharchenko and his deputy Vladimir Antyufiev. The “deputy prime minister”, speaking on behalf of Zaharchenko who was answering questions from media, said that the “prime minister” had met with 15 young Ukrainian soldiers who were held near Ilovaysk (47km southeast of Donetsk city). He announced that “DPR” intended to release all of them as they were conscripts. According to the “prime minister” on 30 August the “DPR” released 18 Ukrainian soldiers near Marinka (40km southwest of Donetsk city) when they were handed over to the Ukrainian army.
The SMM visited four government-controlled checkpoints (CP) located around Mariupol. Three of them (direction Yalta, Melitupol, and Donetsk) seemed to be operating normally with only light traffic. The SMM observed that the number of vehicles leaving the city on the road to Melitupol (Zhaporozhye region - E58) was fewer compared to previous days, when there were more than 100 vehicles in the queue. On the main road towards Novoazovsk, exiting Mariupol city, the SMM was told by Ukrainian security personnel present at the CP that no traffic was allowed to pass the CP in the direction of Novoazovsk.
The SMM observed relatively few pedestrians in Mariupol city centre and light traffic. The SMM visited the bus station number 2 on the west side of Mariupol city and observed only a few people there. The station’s chief administrator told the SMM that in the past week demand was exceptionally high for bus tickets, and in connection with this, on 29 August additional bus trips to Kyiv were scheduled to meet the increased demand. However, the interlocutor said, the situation had recently calmed down, and this weekend a sizeable number of clients had been returning the tickets they previously purchased.
In Dnipropetrovsk the SMM monitored, on 29 August at 18:00hrs, a demonstration in the city’s central “Europe Square”, organised by the association ‘Anti-Crisis Media Centre’. According to the SMM’s estimate about 400-500 people, mostly young, but also middle aged and elderly men and women, were present. Speakers talked about the need for Ukraine to be strong and united, and called for help from western countries, since Ukraine ‘is in a difficult situation, with a lack of resources’ to fight on its own. No police presence was visible. The event passed off peacefully.
In Kherson city the SMM observed on 30 August an anti-war demonstration at Freedom Square with about 30 people, mainly middle aged men, gathering and demanding a stop to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. The demonstration lasted only a few minutes, after which about 70, mainly male local activists carrying flags of “Right Sector” and “Svoboda”, as well as people from the “Odessa Maidan” group arrived and chased the protesters away. The SMM saw that the main organizer of the anti-war protest was beaten by the opponent activists and suffered a head injury. After the protesters dispersed, the “Maidan” activists stayed on, sung the national anthem and Ukrainian slogans.
In Odessa the SMM observed, at Kulikovo Polye, a gathering of 70-80 opponents of Ukraine’s unity. Thirty police officers were present. At the rear of the trade union building there were two buses with approximately 60 additional police officers. The gathering began with a eulogy to one of the people who died on 2 May in the fire of the trade union building. The SMM witnessed an assault on a man who approached one of the opponents of Ukraine’s unity and was then punched by another activist of the same group. Apparently the man, wearing Ukrainian colours, was a soldier who returned from eastern Ukraine a month ago and seemed intoxicated. The police intervened quickly and took the man away.
The situation in Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv remained calm.
In Kyiv the SMM visited on 31 August a Lukoil gas station which had been reportedly attacked by unknown assailants on 28 August. The windows of the gas station were missing and were covered with plastic sheets and electrical wiring was hanging from above the entrance of the store. According to an employee, up to 30 people took part in the attack. Allegedly this was the second attack on the gas station in the last 10 days.
On 30 August the SMM monitored a gathering in Kyiv outside the President’s administration, consisting of approximately 70 relatives of soldiers from the 51st and 24th brigades of the Ukrainian army from the Volhynian region (western Ukraine) sent to Luhansk and Donetsk on the 8 April. The protestors said that the soldiers did not have a single day of leave since April. On 31 August the SMM followed up on the event and got in touch with one of the mothers, who informed that a representative of the President’s administration promised that soldiers could take their leave.
On 31 August the SMM monitored the situation outside the Ministry of Defense in Kyiv, where 12 women were demonstrating requesting the return of their sons, who have participated for more than 120 days in the security operation in eastern Ukraine, and asked for their rotation and/or leave. They mentioned that their sons were summoned for military training, without any notification that they would participate in the security operation in eastern Ukraine.
Contact:Iryna Gudyma Kyiv Mobile: +38 067 4021716 Iryna.Gudyma@osce.org