Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 12 October 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, focusing on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol/Memorandum. The Mission continued to receive reports, and directly observed, shelling occurrences in a number of areas. In Kyiv civil society representatives expressed concern for the fate of those held captive by illegally armed groups in Donbas.
On 12 October the SMM monitored an event at Liberty Square in Kharkiv where information about volunteer groups assisting the army and protecting the region was displayed. Cadets from the Kharkiv tank military school showed the public how to assemble different types of light infantry weapons. Doctors and psychologists were also present and explained their work in case of emergency in areas of the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (“ATO”). The event was organized by the Ukrainian Armed forces with the support of local “Euromaidan” activists.
On 11 October the SMM visited Popasna (85km west of Luhansk), controlled by Ukrainian forces, and whilst speaking to the local population at one of the city’s markets, it heard shelling lasting for 10 minutes, and involving about 12 shells. Some of those present at the scene told the SMM that the shelling was outgoing from Ukrainian positions close to Popasna, an assessment consistent with the SMM’s observations. Other local inhabitants told the SMM that they are extremely concerned by the frequent incoming and outgoing shelling around Popasna.
In Lysychansk (90km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM noted a group of armed, uniformed men, gathered outside a building. The SMM spoke with the deputy “ATO” co-ordinator for Lysychansk, present at the scene, who explained that a group of armed men, identifying themselves as members of the volunteer “Aidar” battalion, had occupied the building of a local TV channel, and that negotiations with them were ongoing. The armed men surrounding the building appeared to be police personnel. Eventually, the SMM saw the men, reportedly from the “Aidar” battalion, vacating the building. The “ATO” co-ordinator and the police commander, who had been involved in the negotiations with the armed men, explained that the situation had been resolved, but that the “Aidar” battalion personnel had not explained why they had occupied the building.
On 11 October the SMM followed up on information received by a CP commander that one of the Ukrainian armed forces’ tanks had been engaged and struck earlier on that day by direct fire at Talakivka (16km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM visited the CP and spoke to the tank commander, who stated that two rounds were fired at the tank, and added that no one was injured. The first round, which came from around 1km to the east of his position, landed 60 metres to the rear of the tank in a field. The second shot impacted the tank on the turret. The SMM observed some fire damage to the tank. The SMM observed a patch of a nearby field on fire some 60 metres from the tank, and was told by the soldiers that it was caused by the impact of the first round.
The SMM visited the village of Krasnogorovka (28km west of Donetsk), controlled by Ukrainian forces, to follow up on information received from the mayor’s office on 10 October, referring to alleged shelling of the village. The SMM inspected the site and found traces of 8 impacts consistent with incoming "Grad" shelling. During its visit, the SMM noticed a group of men, women and children, around 15 in total, in the process of fetching water in a square who informed them that Krasnogorovka has no public water supply since July.
On 11 October the SMM visited the town of Starobeshevo (40km south-east of Donetsk) where it observed one “Uragan” type unexploded missile stuck in the ground between the street and pavement, with the impact area around 8 meters away from an administrative building hosting the village council. The SMM was told by local inhabitants that the missile had been de-activated by demining experts provided by the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”).
On 12 October, about 18km north-west of Debaltseve, the SMM observed several artillery rounds hitting the ground some 10km north of its location. The SMM continued towards Debaltseve and heard constant heavy artillery fire, which appeared to be consistent with a D30 Howitzer, however, the SMM could not ascertain its origin.
On 9 October the SMM met the head of the regional police in Berdiansk (285km south of Dnipropetrovsk) who stated that the security situation in the city is stable. According to the interlocutor, the police prevented a recent attempt to demolish the Lenin statue in the centre of Berdiansk, persuading a crowd of protesters to collect residents’ signatures in support of such an act, and submitting a petition to the city council, which would make a final decision on the matter. The interlocutor also informed the SMM that a local self-defence unit named “Skif” recently finished its training and has been deployed to the checkpoints located inside the city.
In Kherson and Chernivtsi the situation remained calm.
On 11 October the SMM met with a member of the Ivano-Frankivsk based NGO “People’s Initiative of Galicia”, involved in public lustration in the region. According to the interlocutor, despite the existing legal basis of formal lustration, with the new law signed by President Poroshenko on 10 October, public lustration will continue. In this regard, the interlocutor stated that recently up to 10 local officials have been publicly lustrated in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, and that they had all been tossed into trash bins.
On 10 October in Lviv the SMM monitored a training session, part of the programme for psychological treatment for the participants in the “ATO” and their families, organized by the Ukrainian Catholic University. About 80 participants, mainly women and including local media representatives, attended the event.
In Kyiv the SMM met a number of organizations of civil society representatives who expressed concern regarding the situation of civilians held captive by irregular armed groups in Donbas. Some representatives said that, in their view, these cases have not received the attention they deserve due to prioritization of release of members of armed forces. Some representatives also expressed concern about what they call “black lists” maintained by CP personnel, as well as human rights abuses at these CPs committed by irregular armed groups.
On 10 October, in front of the presidential administration building in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a demonstration of about 30 persons, mainly women, relatives of civilians and volunteer personnel held captive in Donbas by illegal armed groups. The demonstration was organised by a journalist who herself had been detained for about 72 days in Sloviansk by the “DPR”. When the SMM left the scene, it did not observe any incidents.