Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 29 April 2015
This report is for the media and general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. Fighting continued around Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne. The SMM observed military movement on both sides of the contact line.
The SMM continued to observe ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk airport, and in the environs of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). At a location 8km north-west of Donetsk city-center, the SMM, for instance, heard the sound of 75 explosions coming from locations 2-6 kilometres west, north, north-west and south of its position, assessed to have been both incoming and outgoing 120mm mortar and heavy artillery rounds. In Donetsk city, the SMM heard a round of indeterminate nature explode approximately 700 metres from its position. In and around Shyrokyne, the SMM noted mostly the use of small arms. The SMM also observed two ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region. Whilst in government-controlled Staryi Aidar (20km north-north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard eight outgoing mortar and artillery rounds approximately three kilometres east of its position. Whilst in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard a few bursts of small arms fire approximately 10 kilometers east of its position.
Following reports from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) that “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) had been shelled on 28 April, the SMM – visiting the city the following day – observed craters and extensive damage to five civilian houses, one of which was near the local market place, and was told by interlocutors that one person had been killed and seven injured. The SMM assessed that 122 and 152mm artillery rounds – fired from locations to the north-west and south over a three-hour period – had been used in the attack.
Ukrainian Armed Forces representatives to the JCCC in government-controlled Avdiivka (15km north-west of Donetsk) told the SMM that “DPR” forces had shelled Avdiivka with Grad rockets over the two previous days. The SMM will follow up on these allegations.In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Sverdlovsk (61km south-south-east of Luhansk), the SMM met the “LPR”-appointed “chief prosecutor”, who said that the “prosecutor’s office” in the town had been opened on 12 January. He said that courts were not operating in “LPR”-controlled territory, however, and so “pre-trial detention” could “legally” last up to a year and a half. He added that a number of “LPR” members – suspected of murder – were amongst those being held. At one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area – where on the previous visit the SMM had found three weapons missing (see Daily Report, 18 April, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/151826) – the SMM found that all six 120mm howitzers were missing. At an “LPR” heavy weapons holding area – where on the previous visit the SMM had noted the presence of weapons (see Daily Report, 20 April, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/152151) – the SMM found no weapons. Despite claims that withdrawal of heavy weapons was completed, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas non-compliant with the withdrawal lines: (i) in government-controlled areas, a total of eight tanks (T-64s and T-72s) in four different locations; and, (ii) in “LPR”-controlled territory, a 122mm self-propelled howitzer. In Kharkiv on 28 April, the SMM observed approximately 30 mostly elderly men and women protesting against the government’s social and economic policies. At one point during the protest, the head of the Kharkiv branch of the Ukrainian Communist Party raised the flag of the former Soviet Union, whereupon police – at the insistence of 20 young pro-Maidan activists trying to disrupt the protest – intervened, persuading the Communist Party member to take down the flag. Police had to escort her from the scene for her own safety, but otherwise, the protest ended peacefully. Following media reports of an armed stand-off between Ukrainian Armed Forces and members of the Right Sector volunteer battalion at a military camp in Velikomykhailivka (117km south-east of Dnepropetrovsk) on 28 April, the SMM contacted the regional leader of the Right Sector. He said that a number of Right Sector members had refused to hand over their weapons upon the request of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers. A regional Ukrainian Armed Forces contact point told the SMM that it would not comment until the following day, but advised the SMM not to travel to the camp in the meantime. In front of the Presidential Administration in Kyiv, the SMM observed a Right Sector-organized protest involving approximately 400 mostly middle-aged men, 60 of whom were in camouflage uniforms. Participants complained about a decision to integrate volunteer battalions into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Approximately 120 police officers and 80 National Guard were present. The protest ended peacefully. The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi and Lviv.
* Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.
The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere.
- On the evening of 28 April, “DPR” members manning a checkpoint in Donetsk city prevented the SMM from proceeding further, saying the SMM should have a “DPR” escort. As the “DPR” members clarified with their superior, a shell impacted nearby (see above; para 1, page 1), forcing the SMM to leave the area before a decision could be made.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from entering the government-controlled village of Mykolaivka (41km south-south-west of Donetsk), saying shelling was ongoing.
Please note that the next daily report will be published on 2 May 2015.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations observed by the SMM, please see the annexed table: www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/154656