Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 1 October 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
In Donetsk city shelling on a residential area caused civilian casualties near a school.
In Kharkiv representatives from the city council informed the SMM that Mayor Kernes had sent a letter to the local representation of the Ministry of Interior, challenging the legality of the police’s decision not to open an investigation against activists who had toppled the Lenin statue (see Daily Report 29 September). A second letter, to the Prosecutor’s Office, was intended to revoke the order signed by the Governor, which had authorized the demolition of the statue.
On 30 September in Luhansk city the SMM met with the so-called “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) “Minister of Interior”. The interlocutor stated that the “LPR” police force had only been formed a month ago and is still in the process of becoming fully operational. He also stated that both “LPR” “Ministry of Interior” and “Ministry of Defence” have detention facilities.
In Metallist (9km north of Luhansk) the SMM spoke to a school headmaster who stated that out of 220 school pupils from last year, 100 remained in the village and are waiting for the school to reopen. According to the interlocutor, one of the two schools in the town is ready to receive the children, though it needs a generator to provide electricity and demining of the surrounding area. The SMM also spoke to a local minibus driver who stated that the number of mini-buses for the route Metallist-Luhansk has increased to four from only one during the conflict, and that the number of people using the mini-bus route is growing gradually. The interlocutor also stated that the owner of the transport company had had to acquire “a license from LPR” to run his business.
In Donetsk on 1 October, declared the first day of school for areas under control of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”), the SMM was alerted by representatives of the “DPR” “Ministry of Emergency Situations” about an incident close to a school in Kyivs’kyi district (5km north of the city centre), where shelling had allegedly caused civilian casualties. When at the scene, the SMM saw a large crater, one metre in diameter, some 50 metres from the school, which it assessed to have been the impact of a shell of an unspecified nature. The SMM was guided inside the building by “DPR” representatives, who showed the SMM two bodies on the floor. There were no casualties among the school children, according to the “DPR” representatives. The SMM moved to a street a few hundred meters from the school, where “DPR” representatives said that shelling had caused other victims. On arrival, the SMM approached the bus station where it saw a bus almost entirely burnt out, and could observe six bodies at the scene. Around fifty metres north of the bus, the SMM saw a metallic object stuck in the asphalt which appeared to be a large rocket canister. Given its angle, the SMM assessed that it could have been fired from the south.
The SMM visited the village of Hrabove (70km east of Donetsk) in order to assess the awareness of the local authorities and the local population about the procedures related to the recovery of items and other personal belongings of the passengers of the MH17 plane. In Hrabove and its surroundings, as well as in Rozsypne, the SMM observed leaflets and posters informing the public about the recovery procedure of personal belongings and/or other remains. These were displayed in visible places such as post offices, shops, bus stops, pharmacies, schools, administration offices, churches, checkpoints and neighbourhoods, including information boards. The SMM moved towards Petropavlivka (89km north-east of Donetsk), but was unable to continue further due to security concerns.
In Debal’tseve (70km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM visited the Co-ordination Centre, established following the Minsk Memorandum, where it spoke with Ukrainian and Russian military representatives. The SMM continues to be actively involved in the process for the establishment of an effective joint monitoring mechanism, the role, responsibilities and remit of which are yet to be agreed.
In Dnipropetrovsk the situation remained calm.
The SMM met with representatives of the Kherson and Tavriya Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who stated that they are aware of media reports and rumours of a possible deterioration of the security situation in the region. He added that the Church representatives have informed the city authorities that they are ready to contribute to the city’s warning system by ringing church bells in case of emergency, including a possible military invasion.
The SMM attended in Odessa a press conference of the Euromaidan co-ordination council. Representatives of self-defence groups, Right Sector and the Lustration Committee gave their views on the incident involving the former Minister of Emergency and Member of Parliament who had come to the city to hold a press briefing, as part of his election campaign (see Daily Report 1 October). The man was beaten up by a small crowd outside the Odessa regional administration building on 30 September. Two of the speakers stated that the fight outside the administration building had started because the former Minister of Emergency’s bodyguard had hit a Euromaidan activist. Odessa self-defence leader said that if the police attempt to arrest the activists who had hit the man, the security situation may deteriorate. He also said that the self-defence activists will march on Kulikovo Pole square this Sunday and advised the anti-Maidan activists, who regularly gather there, to stay away from the square.
In Chernivtsi the SMM observed some 60 protesters, mainly male in their forties, workers from the Chernivtsi Military Hospital and some Afghan war veterans, walking from the hospital towards the regional council administration building, pulling the chief doctor of the hospital in a trash bin. The protestors, once in front of the regional council building, forced the chief doctor, a former Member of the Party of Regions, to sign a resignation letter. The incident occurred as the chief doctor returned back to the hospital to work on 1 October, with a court order revoking an earlier decision of the regional council that he should resign after he was accused of corruption. The doctor was allowed to walk away and the crowd dispersed, after the chairman of the regional council promised the protesters to look into the issue. The SMM noted that two police officers had monitored the event.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
In Lviv the SMM observed a group of 70 persons, mostly female, family members of soldiers of the 3rd Territorial Defence Battalion, under the Ministry of Defence structure, who blocked a street near the regional administration building. They claimed that the soldiers were supposed to operate exclusively in the Lviv region, but were instead deployed to the “Anti-terrorism Operation” (“ATO”) zone, where they have been serving since early July and demanded that the rotation of the battalion be expedited. The protesters dispersed peacefully after the Governor engaged with them, clarifying that decisions on rotation are taken by the “ATO” command.
In Kiev the situation remained calm.