Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 4 February 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 was informed by the regional police in Dnepropetrovsk of two explosions which had occurred in the city on 3 and 4 February.
On 4 February the SMM attended a press conference held by the “prime minister” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”), Mr. Zakharchenko, in Donetsk, during which a Ukrainian Armed Forces captive was released. The captive’s parents were also present. Following the press conference, the SMM saw “DPR” members taking the captive and his parents to a residential area near Donetsk airport to show the damage it had sustained.
In the suburbs of Makiivka (10km west-north-west of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) the SMM observed a convoy of one camouflaged Toyota pickup truck, four civilian cars, four military style jeeps, one military style truck and two infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-2). All vehicles were unmarked and were carrying uniformed and armed personnel. The convoy was heading in a south-westerly direction.
The SMM visited Soledar (77km north of Donetsk, government-controlled), where the JCCC Headquarters (HQ) currently remains relocated. Officers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russian Federation Armed Forces, and members of the “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were present. The Russian Major-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC and the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, were also present. The Ukrainian Major-General referred to a statement by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on the situation in Easter Ukraine, calling for a three-day temporary truce to allow civilian evacuations and to negotiate a sustainable ceasefire. He said that on 2 February several civil society organizations had asked the JCCC’s assistance in evacuating approximately 1,000 civilians from Debaltseve (55km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) and its environs over two consecutive days.
In Sviatohirsk (115km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) the SMM visited one of the three camps located there, receiving internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Debaltseve, Avdiivka (15km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) and Horlivka (35km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled). Representative of the Donetsk region Department for Family and Children said that Sviatohirsk is currently hosting 750 recently arrived IDPs. At the camp the SMM spoke to some IDP children and adults (both men and women of all ages). Some said they had left Debaltseve for Svitlodarsk while expecting to return imminently, but now found they were unable to do so due to the deteriorating security situation. Some said that their relatives and friends had left Debaltseve at different moments; others had to leave elderly, sick and immobile relatives behind. Many IDPs were worried about their immediate future as they do not know how long they can stay in their temporary shelter and where to go next.
In Volodarske (92km south-west of Donetsk, government-controlled) the head of the Centre of Social Services for Family, Children and Youth told the SMM that twenty new IDP families from Donetsk and Debaltseve have recently arrived in Volodarske – mainly women with children or elderly people. The interlocutor mentioned a dramatic increase in alcohol abuse by women, reportedly due to the pressures of divorce, child care and unemployment. Women and children are their main focus. The centre currently has only four employees. This has reduced its capacity to offer the type of preventive services the centre previously engaged in, such as awareness campaigns on social issues including domestic violence, gender based violence, drug and alcohol abuse and reproductive health awareness in schools.
On 4 February, an SMM patrol was en route from Luhansk to meet an SMM convoy coming from government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (90km west of Luhansk) for a rotation of its personnel at the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (17km north-east of Luhansk, government-controlled). The day before, the SMM had negotiated extensively with “LPR” members and Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at the JCCC office in Luhansk and prearranged a ceasefire to be held on 4 February from 11:00 to 14:00hrs. Both sides re-confirmed the ‘silence regime’ in the morning of 4 February. At 11:06hrs, when the SMM patrol en route from Luhansk was approximately 700 meters from the south end of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (in “LPR”-controlled territory), three mortar rounds exploded. The first mortar round exploded approximately 40 meters in front and to the left of the SMM leading vehicle. As the convoy reversed, a second impact explosion followed about ten seconds after the first round, landing about 50 meters to the right side of the leading vehicle. A third impact explosion occurred while the SMM was withdrawing in the direction of Luhansk. The third round was heard but not witnessed, however the SMM estimated that it impacted behind the convoy. The SMM assessed that the mortars (possibly 82mm) came from a north-westerly direction. After withdrawing beyond the point from which the SMM was visible from the presumed origin of the mortar fire, the SMM heard no further explosions.
On 3 February, the SMM observed several military movements in Luhansk and in nearby locations. In Luhansk, at 10:15hrs on the Oboronna Street a convoy of 14 military trucks was observed heading west in the direction of Alchevsk (43km west of Luhansk, “LPR”-controlled). At 14:00hrs, the SMM observed one empty Grad vehicle truck moving east towards Luhansk, between Sabivka (16km west of Luhansk, “LPR”-controlled) and Oleksandrivsk (11km west of Luhansk, “LPR”- controlled). At 14:45hrs, the SMM observed in Luhansk, in the Sovetska Street, a convoy of 16 military trucks moving in a westerly direction. At a checkpoint manned by “LPR” in Mikhailivka (35 km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a convoy of three multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicles (MTLB), two trucks and two self-propelled anti-aircraft systems heading west and a convoy of trucks towing 2B16 (NONA-K 120mm howitzer artillery gun) heading east towards Luhansk.
In Dnepropetrovsk the SMM on 4 February spoke to representatives of the regional police who said that on 3 February, at 08:20hrs, on Shevchenko Street a citizen reported to the city police a suspicious package found under a car parked close to a nearby park. The area was cordoned off by the police and the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit. The EOD Unit defused the homemade improvised explosive device (IED). The interlocutors said that the makeup of the IED is still under investigation and that the IED could have been remotely detonated by phone. Representatives of the regional police mentioned that a second incident had occurred on 4 February, at 08:30hrs, when a grenade was found either under or in a single tyre, near the front left side of a stationary vehicle in a parking lot in the Amur-Nizhnedneprovskyi district. The driver of the vehicle and the parking lot security guard tried to move the car tyre, and the grenade exploded. Both sustained injuries on their legs and face. The police representative told the SMM that the type of grenade used was most likely an RGD-5 (distance hand grenade). When contacted by the SMM, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) representatives in Dnepropetrovsk confirmed that the incidents had taken place and that the regional police was conducting investigations under Articles 115 (murder) and 15 (criminal attempt) of the Criminal Code.
In Kharkiv, Kherson Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv the situation remained calm.