Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 5 December 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 work of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). The SMM observed columns of over 100 unmarked green military vehicles travelling westwards towards the city of Donetsk.
The SMM was informed by Kharkiv police and by the district administration in Zmiiv (57km south-west of Kharkiv) of a false bomb alert at the local thermo-electric power station. The power station was searched by the police and 300 workers were evacuated. No bomb was found. An investigation was opened by the police.
On 5 December, the SMM met in Luhansk with the “Deputy Minister of Interior” of the so-called “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) who stated that starting from 4 December the Penitentiary Department and all penitentiary institutions located on the territory of the “LPR” have been moved under the supervision of the “Ministry of Interior” of the “LPR”. The interlocutor said that the penitentiary system consisted of 12 prisons and detention centres with over 5,000 convicts. He stated that prior to the “LPR” take-over of the facilities the Ukrainian authorities had released approximately 2,000 of the 7,000 inmates which the Ukrainian authorities had said were officially incarcerated (see Daily Report 21 November)
On 5 December the SMM observed a significant presence of pro-Ukrainian Government forces in government-controlled Novoaidar (58km north-west of Luhansk). Small units of armed personnel were observed patrolling the city centre and several military trucks were seen driving in the streets. The SMM observed around 100 personnel in the city, but it could not ascertain whether they belonged to the Ukrainian Army or to volunteer battalions. More than ten percent of the personnel were dressed in a blend of different military uniforms without insignia, and wearing red ribbons on their sleeves.
On 3 December the SMM met in Luhansk the Head of the NGO “Ukrainian Chernobyl Union” (UCU) who said that his organization has about 14,000 members in the Luhansk region, of which about 4,500 are officially disabled. He said he advocates for his members to receive social recognition and benefits, including pensions, and just treatment before the law. He said that a rehabilitation centre run by the organization is no longer able to continue offering its services for vulnerable UCU members due to a lack of funds.
The SMM monitored the JCCC HQ in government-controlled Debaltseve (55 km north-east of Donetsk), where Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt-Gen. Askarov and three officers of the General Staff of Ukraine were working alongside four Russian officers of the General Staff of Russia. Members of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and “LPR” were also present and primarily co-operating and sharing information with Russian JCCC officers. The JCCC Chief of Staff of the Russian Representation in south-east Ukraine informed the SMM that the head of the Russian Representation in south-east Ukraine, Lt-Gen. Lentsov, was in Luhansk for consultations with members of the “LPR”.
Whilst travelling to “DPR”-controlled Shaktharsk (55km east of Donetsk) the SMM observed 4 convoys (total of 19 vehicles) of unmarked military trucks moving at separate intervals westbound on the H21 road towards Donetsk city. On the bumper of one of the unmarked military trucks the SMM observed a sticker which read "Novorossiya". Whilst on its way back from Shaktharsk to Donetsk, the SMM observed a convoy of 41 unmarked military trucks moving westwards towards Donetsk, a parked convoy of 30 unmarked military trucks facing west, and 4 smaller packets of unmarked military vehicles (total 9 trucks and 2 MTLB - multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicle) also travelling westwards.
The SMM visited the border-crossing point (BCP) at Uspenka (70km south-east of Donetsk) where a “DPR” “Customs Officer” and a “Duty Officer” said that they work on a voluntarily basis without receiving a salary, but believed that the “Customs Department” would soon start paying salaries and provide them with equipment and weapons. Whilst at the BCP, the SMM observed that approximately 70 private vehicles had exited Ukraine, and that 5 had entered. The SMM also saw two queues for those entering the Russian Federation: the first for those entering the Russian Federation to buy goods; and the second for those seeking permanent residence in the Russian Federation. The SMM spoke to local residents who confirmed the purpose of these two queues.
A representative of the State Employment Agency in Dnipropetrovsk told the SMM that as of 1 December 2014, 2,674 internally displaced persons (IDPs) (63% women and 37% men) are registered with the agency and that thus far 509 IDPs have found jobs. According to the interlocutor, 56% of the IDPs registered with the agency have college and institute degrees.
In Kherson, Odesa, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
In Lviv the SMM met with the Chief Judge of the Lichakivsky District Court who described several instances where the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” ("ATO") has impacted cases pending in the court. The interlocutor mentioned several child support and alimony cases where a party to the case is unable to appear in court because the father is serving in the "ATO." Another example mentioned was the case of a woman who received a divorce decree in the Donetsk region, but is unable to obtain the official document from the Donetsk Court in order to prove her divorced status. The interlocutor also described a criminal case where a necessary witness is residing in Donetsk and is unable to travel to Lviv to testify.
On 5 December in Kyiv the SMM attended a meeting between the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and Maidan activists, including relatives of the “Heavenly Hundred” (group activists that died during the Maidan events) and defence lawyers. Some 30 participants, both men and women, were informed by the Head of the SBU that investigative working groups dealing with crimes committed against activists during the events in Maidan had been established in all relevant agencies, including the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the SBU. The SBU working group includes defence lawyers, journalists and public activists. The Head of the SBU expressed hope that the initiative will help them in collecting new evidence and enabling further prosecution of crimes. The SBU is planning to establish such working groups in all regions and will invite civil society activists to join them.