Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time) 30 November 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to focus its observation on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, including by monitoring activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC). In Makiivka, the SMM observed the offloading of three trucks of the Russian convoy coming from the Russian Federation.
On 28 November the SMM visited Pervomaisk (76km West of Luhansk), controlled by irregular armed groups. The SMM was escorted by the Cossack commander of Pervomaisk. The SMM assessed that 90% of civilian houses and apartment blocks had been seriously damaged by shelling. The SMM saw two churches, one food storage facility and two hospitals which had been hit by shelling. Upon arrival of the SMM to the residential part of the city centre, old people came out of basements and approached the SMM. They said that they had been in the basements since July 2014 and were drinking water of low quality. Interlocutors said their main food was potatoes. They said that shelling continued with people still being killed on a daily basis. The SMM saw four to five fresh roadside graves with a cross on one of them. The SMM observed the results of alleged recent shelling, and although it could not ascertain the date of the shelling, it assessed that the mentioned shelling took place within the last 48 hours.
In Shchastya, Ukrainian-controlled (23km North of Luhansk), the SMM heard outgoing and incoming mortar/artillery and small arms fire to the East and South-east of Shchastya.
On 28 November the SMM visited the “Brianka Correctional Center” in territory controlled by the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) (50km South-West of Luhansk). The institution, however, remains under the control of the Ukrainian Government. The commander of the Centre informed the SMM that his institution struggles with the effects of Presidential Decree No. 875 which removes support from all institutions in areas not controlled by the Government. Comment: The Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 595 prescribes compulsory relocation of all state-funded institutions to the areas controlled by the government by 1 December. Twenty unarmed prison officers and twenty administration staff run the facility with 170 prisoners. The commander said that “LPR” in Brianka had maintained the supply of electricity, gas and coal for heating, as well as access to medical facilities in Brianka.
On 29 November, in Luhansk, the SMM was present at a meeting of the head of the Ukrainian contingent to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), Lt Gen Askarov; the head of the Russian Representation in south-east Ukraine, Lt Gen Lentsov; and members of the “LPR”. Participants continued to dispute aspects of the disengagement phase of the Generals’ plan of 13 November. (See SMM Daily Report of 14 November). Nonetheless, all agreed in principle to a total ceasefire along the entire line of contact between Ukrainian Armed Forces and those under control of the “LPR”, to be effective from 5 December. Members of the “LPR” insisted that they were in control of all Cossack units and that these units, too, would adhere to this proposal. They also agreed that the withdrawal of heavy weapons would start on 6 December.
Whilst travelling to the city of Snizhne,”Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled territory (80km East of Donetsk city), the SMM saw a large number of military-painted trucks on the move to and from the Donetsk direction. The SMM observed the movement of eight different convoys from 10:48hrs until 14:55hrs, including several military trucks. One of the mentioned eight convoys with 16 covered military trucks was escorted by two unmarked vehicles with a red and blue roof. Each vehicle displayed a bumper sticker of “Novorossiya”. One covered military truck was towing a damaged armoured vehicle, type BTR and one pulling a multi-purpose armoured vehicle type MTLB with a multi-launch rocket system (MLRS) attached.
In Snizhne the SMM met with the “acting mayor” and “deputy mayor”. According to the interlocutors humanitarian aid is currently being carried out by the local city administration. Around 2,500 people identified locally as the most needy, have obtained food and non-food items thus far.
At around 15:35hrs, while in Makiivka, “DPR”-controlled territory (10km North-East of Donetsk), the SMM observed the presence of what appeared to be the Russian Federation convoy (see Spot Report of the OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk 30 November). The SMM spoke to the mayor of Makiivka who said that 57 trucks, with an unknown tonnage, had arrived on 30 November. He said that the humanitarian aid was destined for vulnerable social groups like the elderly, schools and medical facilities. The mayor invited the SMM into one of the warehouses where offloading of aid was taking place. The SMM observed three trucks with the insignia “Humanitarian Aid from the Russian Federation” from which canned meat, fish and plywood were being offloaded. The mayor said these supplies would be further delivered in accordance with a priority list, which will be compiled by an ad hoc commission for the distribution of social aid. This commission is scheduled to convene in Donetsk on 1 December 2014.
In Kuibyshev district, “DPR”-controlled territory, (15km West of Donetsk) the SMM was approached by local residents. According to them, shortage of food and access to income were the most pressing issues. At 11:15hrs the SMM heard several outgoing 82mm mortar rounds at around 300m to the East of its location. The direction of the mortar fire was unknown. The SMM left the area and returned to the base.
In Hranitne (57km South of Donetsk) which is divided by the Kalmius River, with its eastern part under “DPR” control, and its western part under the control of the Ukrainian Government, the SMM met with the head of the village council on the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said the village had not had electricity for the last four weeks and pensioners had not received pensions for the past four months. Since early November some public services, e.g., transportation and postal service were halted. He said that, on 29 November, an attack with three mortar shells on a residential area in the western part of the village killed a woman and injured two others. The second mortar destroyed a house and the third was undetonated protruding from one of the roads. The SMM spoke to the local commander of the Ukrainian army who confirmed that the above-mentioned mortar attack had come from an eastern direction, and also confirmed the reported fatality and injuries.
In Kramatorsk, controlled by Ukrainian forces (80km North of Donetsk) the SMM observed, on 29 November, a weekly public meeting at Shevchenko Square. The rally gathered approximately 80 people, more than half of whom were men. Some participants complained about the low quality of services, such as insufficient heating and shortcuts in electricity supply. The SMM observed a minor police presence. No security incidents were observed and after 1.5hrs the participants dispersed peacefully.
On 29 November the SMM visited the headquarters of the JCCC in Debaltseve (55km North-East of Donetsk), where officers of the General staffs of Ukraine and Russia were present, as well as members of the “LPR” and “DPR”. The SMM did not witness any shelling during its visit. A Ukrainian officer told the SMM that the Ukrainian and Russian logbooks each registered the same total number of complaints (61) during the previous 24 hours. On 30 November, when the SMM again visited, the Ukrainian officer said that the logbooks again each showed the same total number of complaints (75).
The SMM visited Strelkove (238km South-East of Kherson) on the Arabat Spit and met with representatives of the Ukrainian army, who said that they had observed military activities on the Crimean side, such as shot light flares and the presence of snipers. The interlocutors said that every 2-3 days, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can be seen flying over the area. The SMM could not independently verify any of this information.
The SMM observed two different gatherings on 30 November in Kharkiv. Both gatherings were organised in order to commemorate the Euro-Maidan events from November 2013. About 150 people, mostly young, both genders equally represented, including 20 masked individuals gathered at Constitution Square, which was guarded by 70 police officers. At about 15:00hrs the crowd started a “patriotic march” through Sumi road, accompanied by 100 police officers. At the Shevchenko monument on the Sumi road, flowers were laid to pay tribute to the Euro-Maidan victims, as well as to the Ukrainian soldiers killed in Donbas. A six metre long Ukrainian flag was also carried. When the march reached Liberty Square, the SMM observed approximately 500 participants of all ages and both genders equally represented. Participants of the march where standing at Liberty Square for approximately 30 minutes. An unidentified number of the participants later joined the other gathering (see below) and marched towards the Russian General Consulate, while the others dispersed peacefully.
Another gathering took place at around 16:00hrs, when the SMM observed a group of around 300 mostly young males, including 30 masked individuals assembled in front of Kharkiv regional administration building. The group marched towards the Russian General Consulate. About 100 police officers in full riot gear were in front of the building. The SMM saw about three demonstrators throwing firecrackers into the Consulate premises. At that time, the number of police officers reached 200. Demonstrators, escorted by the police, left the area at around 16:45hrs and walked down Pushkin road to the metro station from where they dispersed.
On 29 November the SMM monitored a peaceful gathering in Kyiv on Maidan. About 500 people (both genders equally represented, mainly over 50 years of age) gathered on Maidan to commemorate the events of November 2013. The SMM saw people gathering around 20:00hrs, lighting candles. Approximately 50 regular police officers were present. The crowd dispersed peacefully after 1.5hrs.
The situation in Dnipropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv was calm.