Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 23 November 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). On 22 November events commemorating the famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 (“Holodomor”) were held across the country.
On 21 November an explosion occurred at Osnova railway station (8 km south of Kharkiv), causing no injuries or material damage. The local police confirmed to the SMM that the case was classified as an act of terrorism and was under investigation by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
On 22 November the Chief Monitor met the governor of Luhansk, Gennady Moskal, and discussed the situation in the region and the role of the SMM in monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum.
The SMM helped facilitate a ceasefire in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (40 km north-west of Luhansk) which took place on 23 November from 08:00 hrs to 20:00 hrs. The purpose of the ceasefire was to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid by Governor Moskal and to restore electricity and gas lines for the 1,500 residents.
The SMM visited the regional psycho-neurological hospital on the outskirts of Slovyanoserbsk (30 km north-west of Luhansk), under the control of the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The SMM was informed that only six of the 180 staff remained, none of whom had a medical degree or training in nursing. The SMM observed the critical conditions in which the 350 patients live, including the lack of heating, electricity, gas, food and medication. Some 120 patients are bed-ridden and the hospital has an acute mental illness unit. The SMM was shown hospital records according to which 49 people had died since August.
On 23 November the SMM monitored the “LPR”-controlled area of Slovyanoserbsk (30 km north-west of Luhansk). At 12:00 hrs exchange of artillery fire from the “LPR” and the Ukrainian sides forced the SMM to leave.
On 21 November the SMM met the “LPR” “deputy minister of interior” who stated that the “LPR police” now operates under a new “law” passed on 10 November and had been renamed from ‘militsiya’ to “politsiya’. He said that its composition was 70 per cent former (retired) Ukrainian police officers, and the remaining 30 per cent are civilians without police experience and former “LPR” armed personnel.
On 22 November the SMM met the head and deputy head of the Department of State Penitentiary Service of the Luhansk region in order to follow up on the evacuation of prisoners and correctional service staff from “LPR”-controlled territory (see SMM Daily Report 21 November). The head told the SMM that, in addition to the three establishments along the line of contact, Chernukhino (500 detainees), Komissarovka (150 detainees) and Seleznivka (150 detainees), the evacuation of the female prison at Dirukovi (93 km south-east of Luhansk) to government-controlled territory is a priority.
On 23 November the SMM visited the hospital in government-controlled Shchastya (23 km north of Luhansk) to investigate claims of civilian casualties. Hospital staff said that on 21 November, six wounded civilians and two Ukrainian Army soldiers had been transported to the hospital. The SMM interviewed one of the civilians who said that he had sustained his injuries in a mortar attack in government-controlled Verkhnia Vilkhova (25 km north-east of Luhansk) on 21 November at 23:00 hrs.
On 22 November the SMM visited Debaltseve (55 km north-east of Donetsk). At 10:10 hrs, approaching the town from the north-west, the SMM observed two 220 mm (Uragan) multiple launch rocket systems, escorted by an armoured personnel carrier, heading further into the Security Zone. All three vehicles bore tactical marks consistent with those used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
On arrival in Debaltseve the SMM visited the headquarters of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). The chief of staff of the Ukrainian contingent said that on 21 November at 22:39 hrs incoming shelling had injured seven civilians and caused serious damage to the town centre. Officers of the General Staffs of Ukraine and Russia said they had kept a low profile during the day due to the fear of a backlash by the local community.
Later, on patrol in the town, the SMM saw damage to the windows of two schools, two shops, a bank, a court and a police station. Splinters and shrapnel indicated shelling consistent with the use of Grad rockets. The SMM spoke to the local commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who said shelling had started at 22:30 hrs and lasted for five minutes.
The SMM also met with the chiefs of police of Debaltseve and of the Donetsk region. The latter said that a second shelling of Debaltseve took place on the same day, originating from Fashchivka (65 km north-east of Donetsk, under control of “DPR”), and starting at 23:30 hrs. This shelling lasted for about 30 minutes.
In Donetsk the SMM attended a meeting of the head of the Ukrainian contingent to the JCCC, General Askarov; the head of the Russian Representation to south-east Ukraine, General Lentsov; and members of the “DPR”, who discussed options for de-escalation of the situation at Donetsk airport. They also discussed the use of UAVs.
On 23 November General Askarov told the SMM that the Ukrainian JCCC contingent would investigate the reports of shelling in and around Debaltseve and share its findings with General Lentsov.
On 22 November the SMM travelled to the government-controlled town of Hranitne (57 km south of Donetsk) where it observed extensive damage to civilian buildings and infrastructure caused by shelling, which local inhabitants said had occurred on 19 November.
On 22 November the SMM observed a gathering of some 200 mostly young people of mixed gender in front of the regional state administration building of Dnipropetrovsk in remembrance of the famine in Ukraine “Holodomor” (1932-1933). The event was monitored by the police from a distance and ended peacefully.
In Kherson the situation was calm.
On 22 November the SMM observed “Holodomor” commemoration events on Odesa’s Belinskoho Street and at the Cathedral Square. Approximately 100 people of mixed gender and age were present. The events were monitored by the police and ended peacefully.
On 22 November the SMM observed two Euromaidan protests in Odesa to mark the first anniversary of the start of protests in Kyiv’s Maidan square. The first one at around 15:00 hrs was held in front of the central police office where 20 activists of mixed gender unsuccessfully attempted to set up tents. At 18:40 hrs a group of approximately 50 young Euromaidan activists of mixed gender were joined by an additional 50 protestors from the “Patriots of Ukraine” at the Duke de Richelieu monument and marched together to the regional Ministry of Interior headquarters to protest against the chief of police and his stance on Maidan. They also asked for his lustration. There was a cordon of 200 police officers present and the protests ended peacefully.
On 23 November an additional two protests were held in Odesa. The first one constituted approximately 135 mostly middle-aged participants of mixed gender including 35 who were wearing camouflage uniforms. The protest ended peacefully. The second protest included approximately 200 activists of mixed gender and age and took place in front of the central police office. The protestors repeated their demands for the dismissal of the police officers involved in the dispersal of the 2013 Maidan protests in Odesa. A senior police officer initiated dialogue with the protestors and agreed to regular meetings. The police cordoned off the access to the building. Both protests ended peacefully.
On 23 November the SMM monitored a gathering of Svoboda party at Chernivtsi’s central square. Speakers of the party addressed a crowd of approximately 130, mostly elderly male participants and emphasized that the goals set out in Maidan had not been accomplished. The protestors supported a resolution calling for the swift lustration of state employees and politicians. Seven police officers monitored the event, which ended peacefully.
On 22 November the SMM observed commemorations in remembrance of the “Holodomor”. Some 200 people gathered in Chernivtsi’s city centre where the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchy) and the head of the Chernivtsi Greek-Catholic Church delivered speeches. In Ivano-Frankivsk, on Vichevy Square, some 500 people gathered at the event organized by the City Council. In Lviv some 250 people commemorated “Holodomor” at the Taras Shevchenko monument. In Kyiv the SMM observed the “Holodomor” commemoration service which was attended by the President, Prime Minster, the Mayor of Kyiv, representatives of major religious groups as well as representatives of the diplomatic community. All four events were monitored by the police and ended peacefully.