Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 16 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained volatile. The SMM observed a demonstration in front of the Ukrainian parliament in favour of lustration, and received accounts about searches conducted in the office of the Mejlis in Simferopol.
A high-ranking Ukrainian official from a law enforcement agency, who talked to the SMM in Starobilsk (96km north of Luhansk), claimed, consistent with information also carried by local media, that an independent ‘Republic of Stakhanov’ (60km west of Luhansk) had been proclaimed on 14 September, thus ‘seceding’ from the area claimed by ‘Lugansk People’s Republic’.
The commander of the checkpoint in Shchastya (23km north of Luhansk) did not report any recent breaches of Minsk Protocol on ‘non-use of weapons’. The local population of the town claimed, however, that intoxicated soldiers of the volunteer Ukrainian battalion ‘Aidar’ were shooting randomly in the nearby power plant nightly.
In Donetsk the SMM saw evidence of shelling in two places in the Kuibyshevskyi district of the city. Near the building of the local fire brigade unit, branches of trees were lying, covering a crater of some 1.5 meters breadth and 0.4 m depth, located about 25 meters from the building. Marks of shrapnel were noticed on the walls of the building, both inside and outside. Furniture inside the rooms was damaged. All windows from two sides of the building were smashed. The chief of the fire brigade unit stated that the building had been shelled on 15 September 2014, and that two fire brigade trucks had been damaged but remained operational. He also said that one guard from a neighbouring factory had been injured – this claim was later confirmed to the SMM by the deputy director of the factory.
Inside the factory yard, about 50 meters from the main gate, the SMM noticed a crater caused by the explosion of an alleged artillery shell, similar to the evidence near the fire brigade unit. Again, shrapnel damage was observed on the walls of the building. Six windows were smashed.
In another place in the district, the SMM saw five craters in an area of 25 square meters, all similar: 1.5 meters breadth and 0.4 m depth. People met by the SMM said that three persons had been killed during the shelling, which they said had occurred on 15 September at around 17:30. Marks of shrapnel were observed all around the area. Windows of buildings, a garage and a private firm were smashed. The SMM observed bloodstains near the main door of a garage at the scene. Parts of a wall had fallen. The owner of the car service located in the premises claimed that four of his cars and six belonging to a private funeral service had been destroyed.
The SMM, while observing a Ukrainian roadblock in Debaltseve (75km north-east of Donetsk), heard single four to five rifle grenade launcher shots towards the positions of the Ukrainian army. No casualties were reported. In nearby Vuhlehirsk (62km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed few people on the streets, together with several damaged buildings and electricity lines.
The situation in Mariupol continued to be calm, with people working and most shops well stocked and open for business. The SMM conducted a patrol to the checkpoints ‘Skhidnyi’ (500 meters east of Mariupol) and ‘Staryi Shlyakh’ (2km north-east). Checkpoint personnel described the situation as generally calm, but claimed that sounds of shooting from the east had been heard in the night.
The situation in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv was calm.
The deputy head of the Emergency State Services in the Odessa region informed the SMM that 12,200 IDPs were currently registered in the region; but the authorities estimated that the real number was three times higher. He said that there was a rapid increase (by 60%) in numbers of registered IDPs in the last three weeks – UNCHR reported 7,620 IDPs as of 28 August. The official explained this situation by the necessity to register children for school enrolment. In addition, the official estimated that between 28 August and 15 September, 2,770 IDPs, both registered and non-registered, left the Odessa region.
The SMM observed a demonstration in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv of approximately 300 people, including members of the ‘Automaidan’ movement and Right Sector. The participants of the rally demanded adoption of the law on lustration. Approximately 300 members of various Ukrainian law enforcement structures - police, the Kyiv-1 Battalion, and the National Guard - were present at the scene. During the afternoon protesters remained but started expressing tougher messages, including physical threats towards MPs, apparently with the intention to urge them to pass the lustration law. The SMM saw that some of them were piling up tires near the Parliament, and that the law enforcement agencies had deployed additional personnel around the Parliament. The Parliament successfully passed the Law on Lustration at the end of the day.
The head of Crimean Tatars’ Mejlis confirmed to the SMM media reports that the building of the Mejlis in Simferopol, and houses of two Mejlis members, had been searched by the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service.