Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 15 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The overall security situation remains volatile in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.
In Kharkiv the SMM monitored a joint pro-Ukrainian rally of the football clubs “Kharkiv Metalist” and “Dnipropetrovsk” of some thousand individuals in Shevchenko Park, and at the military hospital where they painted the exterior hospital wall yellow and blue. Some participants threw smoke bombs onto the streets. The police were present and visible.
In Luhansk, at the Zolote checkpoint (67km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed outgoing artillery fire at 11:10, 11:14 and 11:16hrs from the direction of Pervomaisk (8km south of Zolote checkpoint) in the direction of Popasna (80km west of Luhansk) and Komyshuvakha (70km west of Luhansk), both under the control of the Ukrainian Army. The SMM met “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) military representatives who stated that the shots had been fired by the Ukrainian Army at their own positions from no-man’s land.
The SMM visited Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk), which is under the control of a Don Cossack commander. The SMM observed that the town had suffered significant damage during the recent fighting. The SMM monitored a gathering of several thousand people in the main square where the commander and his aides referred to themselves as the ‘Cossack government’ and voiced concerns over the “LPR” leadership. They also stated that looters would be shot. The event was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.
In Donetsk the SMM received reports from various interlocutors about alleged shelling at irregular intervals in the outskirts of the city. This information was confirmed to the SMM by the Ukrainian Army and the so-called defence ministry of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). For security reasons the SMM was unable to conduct patrols and verify this information as well as the security situation in this area.
The SMM conducted a patrol to the Skhidnyi (500 meters east of Mariupol) and Staryi Shlyakh (2km north-east of Mariupol) checkpoints, as well as the villages of Lebedynske (8km east of Mariupol) and Shyrokine (23km north-east of Mariupol). Overall the situation remains calm. Personnel at the Skhidnyi checkpoint informed the SMM that the volunteer “Azov” battalion occasionally conducts field-training exercises, including shooting mortar rounds in the vicinity of the Stary Shlyakh checkpoint. The school in Lebedynske has not reopened to date.
The situation in the city of Mariupol remained calm, and residents continue their daily routines. On 14 September, in the evening, the SMM heard shots. The SMM patrol sent to investigate the incident was informed by the Ukrainian Army that they were shooting at UAV with anti-aircraft weapons.
On 14 September, in the evening, the SMM monitored the simultaneous release of prisoners: 73 Ukrainian servicemen and 70 “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) militiamen near Kramatorsk, between Avdiyivka (18km north of Donetsk) and Yasynuvata (21km north-east of Donetsk). The event was conducted without incident.
In Dnipropetrovsk the situation remained calm.
In Kherson the SMM monitored the peace march of the Patriot of Ukraine on 14 September, a solemn walk gathering about 250 people carrying Ukrainian flags and other blue and yellow insignia. The crowd was initially composed of Maidan activists and families with children and elderly citizens, and later joined by Self Defence activists. The activists held posters against separatism, and for a free Kherson and a united Ukraine. The event was monitored by the police and passed peacefully.
In Odessa the SMM observed increased police presence around the regional administration building between 09.30hrs and 12:00hrs, with approximately a hundred police officers spread around the park area that surrounds the building, vehicle checks and five buses of riot police in reserve behind the building. The Head of Odessa City Police would not give details to the SMM of the specific threat, but said that they were taking preventive measures to support public order.
At 12:45hrs the SMM patrol observed a Ukrainian Army convoy of military equipment westbound between Ovidiopol (40km south-west of Odessa) and Zatoka (60km south-west of Odessa), consisting of 12 vehicles with at least three full of military troops and five towing artillery pieces.
In Chernivtsi the SMM monitored a gathering of 50 “People’s Movement” supporters at the main square, who celebrated the 25th anniversary of the political organization and party ‘People’s Movement of Ukraine’ (PMoU). The event was monitored by the police and concluded peacefully.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM met the Self Defence co-ordinator of the city who suggested that the current situation in the east could develop into a frozen conflict. Regarding the engagement of the Ivano-Frankivsk Self Defence (IF SD) in the ATO, he stated that there are numerous challenges in the logistical and legal areas, and that the provision of proper equipment remains a serious problem. The IF SD is establishing a logistical centre designed to deal with the deceased; wounded soldiers and their rehabilitation; and aid distribution.
In Lviv the SMM learned from local police that there were three bomb alert calls received within thirty minutes from 11:29hrs. The alarms concerned the National Guard facility on Stryiskyi street, the Stryiskyi Park and the Lviv Railway Station. No explosive devices were found.
The SMM monitored a demonstration by 22 “Autonomous Resistance” NGO representatives near the regional administration building in Lviv, calling upon the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take further action to release Ukrainian activists detained by Russian Federation authorities in Crimea. The local representative of the MFA ensured participants that the Ministry was active in this area. Police were present and no incidents were reported.
The SMM in Kyiv monitored a protest in front of the Ministry of Defence of approximately 80 participants, mostly mothers, wives and relatives of the 11th battalion of territorial defence (“Kyivska Rus”), demanding troop rotation and improvement of equipment. Three “Aidar” volunteer battalion representatives also supported the protest, which was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.