Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 28 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where it observed and received reports of shelling in a number of locations, including Shchastya and Donetsk city. In Kharkiv the SMM observed a pro-Ukrainian unity rally which culminated in the removal of a statue of Lenin from one of the city’s central squares.
On 27 September the SMM observed in the centre of Kharkiv a demonstration organized by the Communist party under the slogan “No war, for peace”. About 40-50 people, both men and women, in their forties and above, were present. A strong police presence, with more than 300 officers, was visible at the scene. The police informed the SMM that the demonstration had not been agreed and approved by the city administration. During the event, the police detained about 10 protesters, all subsequently released within a few hours. The leader of the local branch of the Communist party informed the SMM that they had actually been detained for safety reasons by the police against possible threats by pro-Maidan groups.
On 28 September, at 14:30hrs, the SMM observed in Kharkiv a large demonstration of some 2,000 pro-Ukraine supporters gathering in front of the Opera house. The crowd, composed of men and women of different ages and including children, was led by members of the “Azov” volunteer battalion, as well as young men and women with masks. Some of the demonstrators marched towards Liberty Square, where Lenin’s monument was located. There, the SMM observed a group of young men with masks trying to climb on top of Lenin’s statue, while the crowd present on the square had increased to approximately 5,000 people. The demonstrators who had climbed up to the statue began using an electric cutting instrument to dismantle the base of the statue. Whilst not visible on the square, the SMM observed the police deploy and set up an outer perimeter cordon around the square and three buses of police behind the regional administration building. At 22:40hrs Lenin’s Statue was pulled down by the demonstrators. As the SMM left the scene, it did not observe any further incident.
On 27 September the SMM visited an IDP transit camp in Svatovo (150km north-west of Luhansk), where a representative of the State Service for Emergency Situations stated that around 5,000 people have passed through the camp since June. All IDPs, mainly coming from Luhansk city and surrounding areas, had been provided with free train tickets to relocate to any destination within the country. Currently, only six IDPs are staying in the camp and will leave in a few days, to stay with relatives or return home.
In Novoaidar (60km north of Luhansk) the SMM met also with an officer of the volunteer “Aidar” battalion, who stated that he is responsible for looking into complaints of offences involving the “Aidar” battalion. He also added that he had encouraged the local community to bring to his attention any complaints against the battalion.
In the area of Shchastya (25km north of Luhansk), on 27 September, at around 15:00hrs, the SMM heard mortar shelling, but it could not ascertain the origin or its direction.
In the city of Donetsk throughout 28 September the SMM heard sporadic shelling consistent with mortar and heavy artillery fire, which appeared to be concentrated in the districts situated close to Donetsk airport. In addition, the SMM visited the villages of Komsomolskoe, Kumachovo, Lujku and Pobeda where it monitored the overall and security situation.
The SMM on 27 September visited three locations indicated by representatives of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) to be the sites of unmarked graves. Two sites are located near an area known as coal mine Komunar, in the outskirts of Nyzhna Krynka village (35km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM had first visited these two sites on 23 September (see Daily Report 24 September). The third site is located at the entrance of Nyzhna Krynka. The SMM was escorted by two representatives of the so-called “DPR” police throughout its visit to the area.
On 26 and 27 September the SMM directly heard and received reports by local inhabitants of heavy shelling concentrated on the eastern outskirts of Mariupol (120km south of Donetsk). The SMM, however, could not determine the origin of the shelling.
The SMM visited a number of checkpoints (CP) manned by the Ukrainian army around Mariupol and was informed by the respective commanders that at 18:00 on 27 September they had received orders from their leadership to halt all use of weapons, including in response to shelling.
Residents from nearby towns of Myrne, Andriivka and Hranitne (all around 50km north-east of Mariupol) reported to the SMM that those areas continue to be shelled, most recently at 10:00hrs on 28 September. They reported that those three towns had been without power for five days, which resulted in serious disruption to civilian life, including telecommunications and food preservation.
In the town of Kramatorsk and surroundings, the overall situation remained calm. The SMM on 27 September visited Debal’tseve (97km south-east of Kramatorsk) and whilst at the main CP, manned by the Ukrainian army, it heard explosions consistent with incoming mortar fire, approximately 1km south-east of the CP, and shortly after heard a further 5-6 explosions.
In Dnipropetrovsk and Kherson the situation remained calm.
In Odessa the SMM observed on 27 September an event which gathered about 150-200 people, mainly elderly women. Three pensioners told the SMM it was an event for peace, against the war. One of the participants said that the organizers had pro-Russian stances and had asked people not to bring flags or other symbols to the event. The square was surrounded by approximately 200 regular police officers and 100 riot police officers. A few hours later a group of about 30 to 50 people, both men and women in their twenties, came to the square. The SMM spoke to some of the young people, who said that those in the group were all students, who had come to the square because they had seen an announcement on the internet that the organiser would pay 50 UAH (c. 3 EUR) to the attendees. The event ended peacefully.
The SMM visited Hlyboka village (30km south of Chernivtsi) where about 40 persons, mainly elderly men, were protesting against the renaming of a street from “Zhytomyrska” to “Stepan Bandera” street. The SMM was told by some of the protesters that local inhabitants were upset and distressed because they had not been involved in the discussion leading to this decision. The head of the city administration, present at the scene, engaged with the protesters and stated that the decision would be revoked. The protest dispersed peacefully. No police were visible at the scene.
On 26 September the SMM met with representatives of the district administration responsible for IDP issues in Kolomyya district (60km South-East of Ivano-Frankivsk). The interlocutor stated that 80 IDPs are currently accommodated with families, mostly with relatives and extended family members, and a smaller number with volunteers. The interlocutor stated that three parties’ “contracts” have been signed between IDPs, host families and the district administration. These contracts will facilitate the work of the administration in locating the IDPs’ current residence, to clarify their social status and to assess their needs.
In Lviv and Kiev the situation remained calm.