Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 26 February 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The SMM monitored movement of heavy weapons in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The SMM monitored the movement of heavy weapons in the Luhansk region. Near Pervomaisk (75km west of Luhansk, “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled) the SMM observed a convoy of eight self-propelled howitzers (type 2S1, 122mm), two transport combat vehicles (type MTLB with Strela missiles) and six trucks (type Ural), three with 122mm artillery shells. In Luhansk city the SMM observed another convoy comprised of 10 self-propelled howitzers (type 2S1, 122mm), two transport combat vehicles and two trucks (type Ural). The SMM was not able to confirm the point of origin of these convoys. The SMM followed both convoys away from the line of contact, but was not allowed to proceed beyond a certain point. The SMM’s ability to monitor and verify effectively that these weapons remained withdrawn was therefore restricted.
At 11:10hrs, at a location 8km north of Luhansk, the SMM saw two tanks positioned 200m west of the H21 road.
At 10:10hrs, while in Muratove (government-controlled, 67km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven incoming mortar and artillery impacts 8-10km south-east of its location. At 11:30hrs, while in Trokhizbenka (government-controlled, 40km west of Luhansk) on a destroyed bridge on the Siverskyi Donets River, the SMM heard the sound of three distant artillery rounds emanating somewhere south -east of its location.
At the last Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint before the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 19km north of Luhansk), when asked about the arrangements for allowing local people to cross, the checkpoint personnel said to the SMM that they had received instructions from a higher command not to let people cross. The SMM approached a group of 15 men and women, some elderly, who said that they were very upset that they could not cross the bridge, even with permits. They showed the SMM their permits issued in Starobilsk (government-controlled, 90km north of Luhansk). The SMM observed three people arriving at the checkpoint and being allowed to cross from the “LPR” side.
The SMM monitored the movement of heavy weapons in the Donetsk region. In Starobesheve (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 32km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM joined a convoy of six self-propelled howitzers (type S21, 122mm) and two military-type trucks. The SMM followed the convoy to a location which was described by the “DPR” as its destination point.
Near Yenakyeve (“DPR”-controlled, 38km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM monitored a convoy of five self-propelled howitzers (type 2S1, 122mm) which it followed away from the line of contact to a location which was described by the “DPR” as its destination point. In Molodezhnoe (“DPR”-controlled, 22km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM monitored a convoy consisting of six self-propelled howitzers (type 2S1, 122mm), which it followed to a location which was described by the “DPR” as its destination point. Near Nikishyne (“DPR”-controlled, 60km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM monitored a convoy of six self-propelled howitzers (2S1, SAU-122) to a location which was described by the “DPR” as its destination point. In Makiivka (“DPR”-controlled, 12km east of Donetsk) the SMM monitored the movement of six self-propelled howitzers (type 2S1, SAU-122).
The SMM monitored the movement of heavy weapons near Paraskoviivka (government-controlled, 72km north of Donetsk) where it observed a convoy of six self-propelled howitzers (type MT-12, 100mm), seven towing trucks, two vehicles with ammunition and a technical maintenance vehicle. The SMM was not able to verify the point of origin of the convoy or its destination.
A convoy of the SMM, the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination and the International Committee of the Red Cross travelled to the Donetsk airport to monitor the handover of the remains of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers from the “DPR” to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. At 11:25hrs, at the junction of Manezhnyi Prospect and Stratonavtiv Street (“DPR”-controlled, 9km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard incoming and outgoing mortar and small-arms fire approximately 1.5km to the west-north-west and aborted the convoy.
The State Security Service (SBU) informed the SMM that three suspects associated with the 19 February bombing in Kharkiv (see SMM Spot Report 19 February) had been arrested on 26 February, all of whom are linked to anti-Maidan groups involved in the take-over of government buildings in April 2014.
The SMM monitored a hearing at the regional court of appeals in Dnepropetrovsk against a conscientious objector to mobilization. The defendant, a Jehovah’s Witness, had been acquitted by a district court on 13 November 2014. The prosecution sought a two-year prison sentence under Article 336 of the Criminal Code. The judge acquitted the defendant. The defense lawyer and the prosecutor at the first instance court told the SMM that this is the first indictment in Ukraine of objection to mobilization on religious grounds in the context of the current conflict.
The head of the Kherson regional police said to the SMM that there were concerns associated with the planned return in the coming weeks of approximately 3,500 servicemen after a full year based in the east. There has been an increase in the number and amount of weapons and explosives brought back by former soldiers which is concerning, he added.
The SMM monitored a session of the Lviv city council. Five former servicemen who have recently returned from active duty in the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” (“ATO”) zone, along with ten family members, interrupted the session demanding the allotment of land and apartments to families whose members had served in the east. The mayor explained that the land allocation was under the authority of the city council but that apartment funding would depend on central funding and had not yet materialized. The city council agreed on the development of a roadmap for the establishment of a special commission to initiate dialogue with soldiers returning from the “ATO” and defining modalities for allocation of land and other benefits. The council also voted for increased funding for a rehabilitation centre for servicemen.
The SMM monitored a protest in front of the Ministry of Agriculture in Kyiv where around 150 persons, mostly elderly men and women, demanded the allocation of land plots to “ATO” soldiers. Around 30 persons in unmarked camouflage stood in the front row of the protest. Four police officers were present at the event which ended peacefully.
The SMM monitored a protest of around 700 mostly elderly men and women in front of the Kyiv City Hall who expressed concerns over the conditions faced by the elderly in Kyiv. At 11:45hrs a fleet of some 30 civilian vehicles arrived with “Peace and Justice” flags attached to their side windows and blocked all traffic in front of the City Hall after which the police closed the entire section of Khreshchatyk Street and a strong police and National Guard presence was made visible. Approximately ten young men attempted to bring tyres, presumably to set them on fire in front of the City Hall but were apprehended by several plain clothes police officers in front of the Ministry of Agriculture. The event ended peacefully.
The SMM continued monitoring the situation in Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi.