Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 29 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions focusing on the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol/Memorandum. While the situation remained calm in the Luhansk region, the SMM observed ongoing fighting at Donetsk International airport and heard sporadic shelling in Donetsk northern sectors (Avdiivka). The SMM also heard artillery and mortar fire in the north-eastern sectors of Mariupol (Sartana and Oktaybr). The SMM monitored a simultaneous release of prisoners between the Ukrainian forces and representatives of “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). In Kharkiv the situation remained calm in the hours which followed the toppling of the local Lenin statue.
In Kharkiv, following the toppling of Lenin’s statue on 28 September, the SMM continued monitoring the situation on Kharkiv Liberty Square. In the afternoon of 28 September, in the margins of the protest action on Liberty Square, the SMM observed approximatively 300 pro-Ukrainian and pro-Unity activists gathered on Constitution Square. The protesters said that they wanted Kharkiv to remain part of Ukrainian territory. They also demanded the dismissal of Kharkiv city mayor Hennadiy Kernes. The protesters were mostly young with a balanced gender representation. In the morning of 29 September the SMM observed two groups of young men and women, both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian supporters, engaged in fierce discussion. The encounter remained and ended peacefully. The SMM spotted very few Ukrainian Police Officers in the vicinity of the Square. On the same morning, the SMM saw that Kharkiv municipal workers were removing the statue. Local officials from the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior (MoI) and a representative of Kharkiv Governor reiterated that they would put an immediate end to the investigation and legal actions previously opened against those who toppled Lenin’s statue.
In Derhachi (15km north-west of Kharkiv), a local middle-aged male inhabitant told the SMM that a group of young individuals (number not specified) reportedly came from Kharkiv in the morning of 29 September and toppled the Lenin statue located in Derhachi city centre. The SMM observed that the Lenin statue was indeed missing. The SMM noticed physical signs of damage on and around the empty pedestal, indicating that the statue might have been toppled earlier. The situation in Derhachi remained calm.
The SMM spoke with staff members of Shchastya (25km north of Luhansk) hospital following the shelling which took place in the area on 26 and 27 September 2014.
The interlocutors told the SMM that the hospital premises had not sustained severe damage after the aforementioned shelling. The SMM noticed craters and impacts of mortar shells around the hospitals’ facility. The SMM also noticed that mortar shrapnel had shattered the hospital’s windows and left superficial impacts on the external walls. Based on the observation of the impacts and shrapnel, the SMM assessed that the mortar shells were coming from the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled sectors.
The SMM monitored the areas of Hirske and Zolote located in the southern sectors of Lysychansk city (90km north-west of Luhansk). In Hirske the Ukrainian armed personnel manning the northern checkpoint reported no violent incidents during the night of 28-29 September 2014. The interlocutors added that they had received additional military vehicles (number, types not specified). They also reported that they were currently reinforcing their position. The SMM observed excavators digging near the position. In Zolote the SMM spoke with Ukrainian Armed Forces commander manning the south checkpoint close to the “LPR” controlled sectors (direction towards the city of Pervomaisk). The interlocutor said that the Ukrainian personnel deployed at the checkpoint frequently heard small arms and artillery fire in the area. The interlocutor stated that the Ukrainian armed personnel at the checkpoint do not allow local inhabitants to cross their position in either direction (from and towards Pervomaisk).
In the city of Donetsk the overall security situation was generally calm during the day. However, the SMM heard ongoing heavy fighting (exchange of small arms and artillery fire) at Donetsk International Airport.
On 28 September in Avdiivka (20km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard five volleys of mortar shelling coming from the “DPR”-controlled areas. The mortar shells landed approximately 500 meters east of the Ukrainian checkpoint deployed in Avdiivka.
In Mariupol the security situation remained generally calm. However, the SMM heard sustained small arms fire in the areas close to Kalmius river and the adjacent rural areas located two kilometres north of Sartana village (20km north-east of Mariupol). Additionally, the SMM heard five volleys of artillery fire coming from Oktaybr village (35km north-east of Mariupol).
In Kramatorsk the overall security situation remains calm.
On 28 September the SMM monitored a simultaneous release of prisoners between the Ukrainian armed forces and “DPR” representatives. The exchange took place on the main road (M04) separating the villages of Avdiivka and Iasinuvate (20km north of Donetsk). The “DPR” representatives released 30 while the Ukrainian side released 60 prisoners. The exchange remained peaceful.
In Dnipropetrovsk and Kherson the situation remained calm.
In Odessa the SMM attended a press briefing given by two representatives of Auto-Maidan. The activists provided updates about their intervention against the “peace march” participants organised in Odessa on 27 September. The activists explained that they had captured the march’s leaders during the gathering before handing them over to the local Ukrainian police forces. On 27 September the SMM observed that Auto-Maidan activists had raided and captured participants of the march. The activists claimed that the “peace march” had a pro-Russian nature. They stated that a local member of the Odessa Oblast Council and his supporters had organised the “peace march”. The aforementioned Odessa official was not present on 27 September among the march’s participants.
Local officials of Yaremche Municipality (60km south of Ivano-Frankivsk) stated that there are currently 82 IDPs registered in the area, including 25 children and 8 social workers and teachers coming from Mariupol. The officials reported that the municipality copes with scarce financial and energy resources while supporting all the local IDPs.
In Chernivtsi and Lviv the situation remained calm.
In Kyiv the SMM met representatives from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation.
The interlocutors said that the Foundation is providing relief to IDPs from Donbas (including the individuals displaced all over the Donbas region). The relief consists of humanitarian aid, psychological assistance, direct financial assistance to families, medical support, facilities, public building and housing reconstruction projects and temporary shelter. Furthermore, the interlocutors stated that they currently work with local volunteers from Donetsk to organize the evacuation of local inhabitants from the Donbas areas still affected by ongoing fighting, primarily to Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhia. They added that the foundation had approved an additional budget of 100 million UAH (EUR 5.85 million) for funding their humanitarian and reconstruction project.