Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 7 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). Some 600 protestors temporarily occupied the regional administration building in Vinnytsya (300 km north-east of Chernivtsi).
At 12:00 hrs the SMM monitored an event in Kharkiv where some 150 people of mixed gender and age expressed their appreciation to the soldiers serving in the east and some activists installed a memorial stone for soldiers by the pedestal of Liberty Square. The police monitored the gathering, which ended peacefully.
On 5 December, the SMM visited Alchevsk (44 km west of Luhansk), which is controlled by the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) and met several interlocutors regarding the deterioration of humanitarian conditions. Representatives of the humanitarian organization “The Peoples’ Liberated Movement of Donbas” informed the SMM that they had been “certified” by the “LPR” to provide humanitarian support to nurseries and schools, and that they were expecting to receive similar certification for support to hospitals. In the children’s nursery, staff stressed that they had not received any salaries for six months and had to sell all their valuables but were currently not able to secure basic food staples for themselves. The SMM also met the commander of the so-called “humanitarian battalion” of the “Ghost Brigade” who run seven soup kitchens in Alchevsk which feed around 2,000 people per day and have distributed 150,000 meals since their establishment on 4 September. The SMM later visited one of the kitchens and observed meticulous records of the supplies received and to whom meals were given. The kitchens rely solely on donations from local businesses.
On 6 December, the SMM in Luhansk met a representative of the “LPR ministry of interior” who explained that he was responsible for the criminal police. He informed the SMM that the recruitment for the police was still underway, that an acting general prosecutor had been appointed and that the reorganization of the penitentiary service fell under the jurisdiction of his “ministry”.
On 6 December at 11:00 hrs, before the last checkpoint ahead of government-controlled Shchastya (23 km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard mortar/artillery explosions from around 10 km to the south-east, as well as small arms fire. At 11:55 hrs, in government-controlled Novookhtyrka (88 km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an exchange of small arms, heavy machine guns and Multiple Launch Rocket System (Grad) weapons. The SMM estimates these originated from the vicinity of the Ukrainian Army checkpoint at the T-junction with government-controlled Muratove.
On 6 December, the SMM visited the JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Debaltseve (55 km north-east of Donetsk). The Ukrainian duty officer informed the SMM that incoming mortar fire from the area between Fashchivka (15 km south-east of Debaltseve, in the frontline area) and government-controlled Kruhlyk (8 km east of Debaltseve) and directed at “LPR”-controlled Chernuhyne (6 km east of Debaltseve) and the northern suburbs of Debaltseve, had occurred at 07:45 hrs, 08:10 hrs, 09:45 hrs and 10:00 hrs. He added that the Ukrainian Army was responding to every set of incoming fire with artillery fire directed at “Donestk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) positions in Fashchivka and Kruhlyk. On 7 December, the SMM returned to the JCCC in Debaltseve. Lieutenant General Askarov and Lieutenant General Lentsov said that there had been an agreement on the terms of a ceasefire which according to them is planned to enter into force on 9 December at 09:00 hrs. The incident logs of the Ukrainian and of the Russian Federation JCCC representatives showed a total of 174 breaches of the non-use of weapons in the past 24 hours. During the visit, the SMM heard small arms fire in the distance, to the south of Debaltseve.
On 6 December, during a visit to the JCCC in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (90 km north-east of Donetsk), at 12:10 hrs the SMM heard incoming shelling originating around 11 km from the east/south-east.
On 6 December, the SMM visited Starohnativka (48 km south of Donetsk, in the frontline area). Villagers and Ukrainian Army personnel informed the SMM that shelling of Ukrainian Army positions on the outskirts of Starohnativka had been ongoing for several weeks. The local nursery has been closed since September due to the shelling and also due to the lack of firewood. Around 200 children live in the village, the same number as before the conflict.
On 7 December, the SMM visited government-controlled Artemove (40 km north of Donetsk) to follow up reports of mortar shelling. Local residents, mostly elderly women told the SMM that there had been regular artillery strikes in the past two days, which resulted in two casualties and one fatality. The SMM was unable to verity the casualties but observed craters consistent with 120mm mortar strikes. At 11:55 hrs the SMM heard incoming artillery originating from approximately 2 km to the south-east and left the scene.
On 7 December, the SMM visited Chernenko (150 km south-east of Donetsk, in the frontline area) which had reportedly been subject to a Grad attack on 6 December. Villagers confirmed this and the SMM observed 10 fresh craters, consistent with Grad rockets and appearing to have originated from the east, as well as damage to property. Whilst in Chernenko, the SMM heard automatic small arms fire from the direction of Checkpoint 12, followed by eight artillery shots fired from the north-east between 10:32 hrs and 10:50 hrs. At 11:02 hrs the SMM heard outgoing artillery fire from the south.
On 7 December at around 13:17 hrs, while at a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint 10 km west of Donetsk, the SMM noticed a number of craters in the area around the checkpoint. According to “DPR” personnel at the checkpoint, the shelling took place on 5 December at approximately 23:00 hrs and around 20 Grad rockets impacted. The SMM assessed that the rockets were fired from the north-west.
On 7 December, the SMM was informed by the JCCC staff in government-controlled Olenivka that they had received a report of a severe artillery attack on 2 December at a bridge checkpoint located on the southern edge of the village of Olenivka that resulted in the death of 10 soldiers and nine civilians. The SMM attempted to visit the site but was refused an escort by the “DPR police” due to security concerns.
On 5 December, the co-ordinator of checkpoint staff co-operation of the Dnipropetrovsk regional police informed the SMM that during the past four months a significant number of weapons have been seized at various checkpoints throughout the region, including two machine guns, 24 grenade launchers, 22 submachine guns, 16 rifles, 196 pistols, 52 sawn-off rifles, 91 home-made firearms, 13 hunting rifles, 13.3 kilograms of explosives, 595 hand grenades, 39,216 cartridges and 338 pieces of other types of ammunition.
On 4 December, the SMM visited the Chaplynka crossing point at the administrative boundary line with the Crimean peninsula (117 km south-east of Kherson). The superior commander of the border guard and checkpoint said that while the situation remained calm, there were regular sightings of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Whilst at the checkpoint, the SMM observed some 130 trucks waiting to enter the Crimean peninsula and was told that the estimated customs clearance time was 20 minutes per truck.
In Odesa, the SMM monitored the weekly rally at Kulikove Pole square, with 60-70 anti-Maidan protestors of mixed age and gender at the Trade Union building, surrounded by a riot police cordon of some 70 officers in gas masks. On the other side of the cordon, the SMM observed some 40 mostly middle-aged male Euromaidan activists, lining up in uniform and holding Ukrainian flags. An additional riot police unit of 30-40 officers was also visible and three police buses and two vehicles equipped to hold detained individuals were parked in the vicinity. The event ended peacefully.
On 6 December, the SMM monitored a demonstration of some 20 people of mixed gender and age, organized by Euromaidan activists in front of the Odesa City Hall, demanding the resignation of the mayor and the dissolution of the city council. The protestors claimed that a section of the police, which had in the past beaten up civilian protestors, was subordinate to the mayor. Some 20 police monitored the event which ended peacefully.
Two false bomb alerts were reported in the early hours of 7 December in a residential street and at a restaurant in Lviv. Police responded as per protocol. No devices were found.
On 6 December, the police informed the SMM that a group of protestors of approximately 600 people had violently gained access to the regional administration building in Vinnytsya (300 km north-east of Chernivtsi), which they occupied for approximately two hours before a police force of 200 officers regained control of the building. The protest was organized by the Batkivshchyna and Svoboda parties and aimed to block the planned dismissal of the head of the regional council by the regional administration. In Vinnytsya, a representative of the Svoboda party told the SMM that the head of the regional council was elected by the pro-Maidan groups in Vinnytsya and that the planned dismissal was linked to the fact that he had actively started to fight corruption in the medical sector. On 7 December, the SMM observed that the building was guarded by the police and the situation was calm.
On 6 December, the SMM monitored the reception of the 12th voluntary battalion at the Kyiv City Hall on the occasion of an army rotation. At 10.30 hrs a crowd of about 2,000 people of mixed age and gender welcomed around 100 soldiers returning from the east. The event was monitored by some ten police officers and ended peacefully.