Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 2 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
In Donetsk the SMM heard renewed shelling in the city and mortar fire coming from within the airport area. In Mariupol local authorities are stepping up efforts to protect the city.
Interlocutors in the Kharkiv regional administration informed the SMM about an incident which involved members from the volunteer “Aidar” battalion. The incident occurred on 1 September at a checkpoint between Kharkiv and Chuhuiv (40km to the southeast). Two armed male individuals, reportedly serving in the “Aidar” volunteer battalion, were detained by the police as they were moving through the checkpoint in a civilian car. Weapons found in their car were seized. The local police confirmed the incident to the SMM and stated that the ground for the detention was that the two men had used a car without identification plates and did not have the necessary documents for the vehicle.
The head of Starobilsk district (95km north of Luhansk) informed the SMM that assistance had been provided to 5000 registered IDPs in the district. He stated that the ICRC had distributed the first round of humanitarian aid, which primarily consisted of perishable food; the remainder, approximately 30 tons of food, would be distributed soon. The interlocutor expressed concern that the upcoming winter would be difficult for the IDPs because they are accommodated in summer camps, not built for winter use. Additionally, he mentioned a lack of medical staff to assist IDPs.
In Donetsk in the early hours of 2 September the SMM observed a column of three armoured personnel carriers (APCs), with no inscriptions on the hardware, followed by two small trucks full of armed individuals passing through the centre and moving towards the west side of the city. After three days of relative calm, during the night and in the early hours of 2 September the SMM heard shelling in Donetsk city centre coming from a north-westerly direction. The situation around the airport appeared similar to the previous day, and the SMM, from around 1km distance, heard mortar shelling going out from the airport area. The SMM visited two IDP camps in Krasnyi Lyman (138km north of Donetsk) where some of the IDPs expressed their concerns in relation to the upcoming winter.
The SMM met with the mayor of Mariupol, who assessed the situation in the city as stable. He stated that local authorities had managed to stop the panic among the population and had completed their efforts to strengthen the city’s eastern checkpoints. He added that works on fortifying the airport were underway. The SMM attended a press conference at which the mayor and representatives from the regional administration announced that a decision had been taken to establish a joint staff for the defence of Mariupol, comprising of regional authorities, local authorities, military, separate territorial defence battalions, the police, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and civil society. The SMM monitored the situation along the main road leading to Novoazovsk (45km to the east of Mariupol). In the village of Sopino local inhabitants stated that, the previous evening, they had heard the sound of artillery fire outgoing from the direction of Bezimenne. Further along the road, the SMM stopped in Berdianske and Shyroke villages, which appeared almost deserted. In Berdianske a local resident told the SMM that the previous evening he had heard artillery fire outgoing from Novoazovsk.
The SMM met the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region Communist Party who complained that on 1 September the SBU had ‘conducted a crackdown’ on party representatives in Dniprodzerzhynsk (33km west of Dnipropetrovsk). According to the interlocutor, the head of the party’s Dniprodzerzhynsk city branch and the head of the Dnepropetrovsk district had both been arrested and sent to a detention centre in Dnepropetrovsk.
In Kherson, Odessa, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
On 2 September the SMM was informed by the deputy head of the Regional Department of Social Protection in Lviv of the sharp increase of IDPs coming from eastern parts of Ukraine during the course of the previous week. The interlocutor highlighted that in the past week 80 to 90 persons were registering in the Lviv region per day, compared to 30 to 40 persons during previous weeks. The majority of IDPs coming from eastern Ukraine are from the Donetsk region; and since the 27-28 of August, most of the IDPs from the Donetsk region are from the municipality of Mariupol.
The SMM monitored a demonstration in front of the Parliament building in Kyiv that started at 09:00 hrs. At its height, the SMM observed some 600 participants, mainly men of different ages, in the demonstration. The main organizers were “Svoboda” and “Volja”. Among the participants the SMM observed Cossacks, Afghan veterans, and representatives from several public movements and political parties. The main theme was the lustration of Parliament. Some 150 police officers were visible at the scene. The event ended peacefully.