Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 1 January 2015, 18:00 (Kyiv time)
This report is for media and the general public
The provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum as well as the activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) remained at the focus of SMM monitoring. In the 48 hours to mid-day on 31 December, the ceasefire held in the Luhansk area, according to the JCCC. In Kherson the SMM was told that no busses travelled to Crimea between 30 December and 1 January.
On 31 December, the SMM visited “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Izvaryne (64km South East of Luhansk) and met the “head of police”, who said that the road from Izvaryne city leading to Izvaryne border-crossing between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was safe and that the border-crossing was functioning. He informed the SMM that “border guards” were under the command of the “national security service” of the “LPR”. In addtion, the interlocutor stated that courts and prosecutors in the city have ceased operating and new institutions are yet to be established. Therefore, he said, it is the police who decide on the duration of the detentions.
On 31 December the SMM attended a meeting of the JCCC in the administration building used by “LPR” structures in Luhansk city. Ukrainian and Russian Federation (RF) leading Armed Forces officers at the JCCC and members of the “LPR” were present at the meeting. Both Ukrainian and “LPR” participants agreed on the importance of maintaining the current ceasefire and ensuring the implementation of the Minsk documents. They informed the SMM that in the past 48 hours no ceasefire violations had taken place. Finally, they agreed to continue discussions on the implementation of the Minsk documents. The Russian Federation representative did not comment on the Ukrainian and “LPR” statements of intent to maintain the ceasefire.
The SMM visited the JCCC Headquarters (HQ) in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km North East of Donetsk), where officers from the General Staff of Ukraine and General Staff of the RF were present with members of “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and “LPR”. The Ukrainian and Russian chiefs of staff jointly reported 20 incidents in the last 24 hours, which consisted of five occurrences reported by the Ukrainian side and 15 by the “DPR” side. Most of these incidents took place at Donetsk airport; the others were in locations close to the airport, including in Pisky (11km North West of Donetsk, government-controlled territory), and in the Donetsk “Volvo Centre” (“DPR”-controlled area, located at the southern entrance to Pisky town). Additional incidents were recorded in the south-eastern area of Debaltseve and other areas. The SMM could not independently verify the information. The chiefs of staff underscored there have been no reported ceasefire violations in the last 48 hours in “LPR”-controlled territory. Both chiefs of staff confirmed that the rotation of Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at Donetsk airport had taken place on 30 December. According to the interlocutors, both Ukrainian and RF JCCC representatives had been present during the rotation at Donetsk airport.
On 31 December the SMM had a meeting with the JCCC Co-ordination Group based in Donetsk city. The meeting was held in the presence of a Ukrainian Colonel, a RF Lieutenant-Colonel and a “DPR” member. Commenting on the recent rotation of Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at Donetsk airport, the participants complained about the procedures followed during the rotation. They agreed that future rotations would require better planning and organisation and clearer rules and procedures will have to be in place. All interlocutors agreed that one grenade was launched from the old terminal building towards the Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel during the rotation, with no casualties reported.
The SMM visited a checkpoint (CP) in government-controlled Maiorsk (45km North of Donetsk) and met with the Lieutenant-Colonel in command of a Ukrainian Armed Forces battalion deployed near “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (35km North East of Donetsk). The interlocutor mentioned the existence of minefields in his area of responsibility and told the SMM that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been demining the area. He mentioned that two days ago a local resident had reported unexploded ordnance (UXO) and that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had disposed of it. He said that the local population had been instructed on ways to report UXOs to the military.
In Donetsk city the SMM visited the train station, where a camouflage-uniformed soldier, with a “Novorossija” insignia, informed the SMM that Donetsk main train station was damaged by rockets, mortars and cannon fire in early November. Whilst walking through the train station the SMM observed visible damage to the roof and outside walls. The SMM met with employees of the train station who stated that some employees still came to work even though no trains were running at the station. The employees confirmed that the trains had stopped running in early November and that prior to the attacks the station had handled passengers for 68 trains per day, which included 15 international trains to the RF and other countries.
In Kherson the SMM continued to follow up on the situation concerning transport connections between mainland Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula. The dispatchers at the Novotroizke (165km South East of Kherson) and Heniches’k (207km South East of Kherson) bus stations informed the SMM that no buses for Crimea had left the station on 30 and 31 December and that none were planned for 1 January.
On 31 December the SMM spoke to a Ukrainian Border Guard Service liaison officer in Kherson who stated that there were some difficulties in the operation of the CP Chonhar (216km South East of Kherson) located at the administrative boundary line with Crimea. The SMM also spoke to the deputy head of Kherson Border Guard Service, who confirmed that since 27 December the CP at Chonhar had not been fully operational.
In Odessa on 1 January the SMM monitored a protest in the city centre, where approximately 40 individuals, middle aged men and women, were blocking traffic close to the Kievski district administration building in protest against electricity blackouts. The SMM spoke to one of the protestors who said that in the Tairov city district, located on the city’s eastern outskirts, they had no power for the past four days and the heating in their homes was not working properly as it was powered by electric pumps. He informed the SMM that it was their second day protesting outside the administration building. The SMM observed few traffic police officers at the scene. The protest ended peacefully.
On 30 December in Lviv the SMM monitored an address of Ukrainian President Poroshenko to the Deputies of Lviv Regional Council, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local media at the central regional administration building. At the end of the address the president officially appointed a new governor of the Lviv region, Mr Oleh Syniutka, by presenting him with the credentials. The newly appointed governor stated in his brief speech that in his work he would concentrate on the continuation of support for the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” (“ATO”), anti-corruption measures and regional infrastructure in order to improve the living standards of the citizens of the Lviv region.
On 1 January the SMM monitored the 106th anniversary celebration marking the birthday of Stepan Bandera at the Stepan Bandera monument in Lviv. The SMM observed about 150 people, mostly middle aged and elderly men, with 15 police officers present close to the gathering. City and regional administration officials and civic activists laid flowers on the monument.
In Ivano-Frankivsk on 1 January the SMM monitored a street parade to commemorate the birthday of Stepan Bandera. The event was organized by members of Ivano-Frankivsk “Svoboda” Party. Approximately 300 people, mainly middle aged men and women, marched through the city centre to the Stepan Bandera monument where the city mayor, the head of the Regional Council and other authorities gave speeches which focused on the need to support the Ukrainian Army in the east. Approximately 20 police officers were visible during the event. The event ended peacefully
On 1 January in Ivano-Frankivsk a “peace march” in the city’s central square gathered approximately 50 people, both men and women, ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old and some children, holding placards with statements of solidarity with people in countries at war. Representatives of the city authorities, the head of the City Committee on Family, Youth and Gender, a member of an NGO and a priest delivered speeches on the need for peace. The event was organized by the community of Saint Egidio with the co-operation of the City Committee on Family, Youth and Gender. The SMM observed ten police officers present during the event, which ended peacefully.
In Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernivtsi and Kyiv the situation remained calm.