Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 27 May 2015
This report is provided for the media and the 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.* The SMM confirmed the deaths of three persons by shelling in Horlivka and saw damage consistent with an artillery strike. The number of ceasefire violations decreased in areas around Donetsk airport. A suspected signal mine exploded within 5 metres of an SMM vehicle close to government-controlled Andriivka (30km north of Mariupol). Due to security considerations, the SMM were unable to travel to Shyrokyne.
From an observation point at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM noticed a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations compared to previous days. Over a three hour period in the morning, the SMM heard nine explosions from west and north-west, and in the afternoon four explosions. The SMM also heard several bursts of anti-aircraft fire (23mm calibre) from the direction of Donetsk airport. In Luhansk region the SMM heard explosions consistent with both outgoing mortar and artillery in an area to the south-west of the SMM location near government-controlled Nyzhnie (56km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM saw the aftermath of shelling in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-north-east of Donetsk). Residents, including one injured by the shelling, told the SMM that shells struck at 18:00hrs on 26 May. The SMM saw nine crater impacts (all within a radius of 200 metres) at three locations in residential areas and conducted crater analysis at one location. At this location, the SMM saw the body of a deceased woman close to two crater impacts. The SMM estimated that the craters were caused by incoming artillery from the north-north-west. In both craters the SMM found shrapnel consistent with 122mm artillery. The SMM saw a house in Planernaya Street that had sustained a direct hit that destroyed the eastern facade, and found shrapnel consistent with 122mm artillery. At this location the SMM saw traces of blood. According to the “DPR” “emergency services” and local residents, a 38 year old man and his 11 year old daughter were killed instantly in this strike and his wife and two young children had been hospitalized with injuries. At City Central Hospital No.2 the SMM spoke with the wounded mother. She and her children had suffered shrapnel wounds. Later, the SMM saw three bodies at the mortuary (one a middle aged man, one woman and a child). The SMM assessed that all three were victims of the shelling.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, head of the Ukrainian side to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk) alleged that the 26 May shelling of Horlivka came from Mine 6-7 (42km north-north-east of Donetsk and 7km north-west of Horlivka respectively), in areas controlled by “DPR”. The Major General alleged that the shelling was observed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC office in government-controlled Volnovakha (35km south-west of Donetsk).
Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Armed Forces officers at the JCCC observation post at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) informed the SMM that 12 officers (six from Ukrainian Armed Forces and six from Russian Armed Forces) have been deployed to monitor the ceasefire. The Russian Federation Armed Forces officers are deployed along the “DPR” side of the contact line, with Ukrainian Armed Forces on the government-controlled side, for a period of three days.
A suspected signal mine went off five metres from an SMM vehicle travelling on the main road close to government-controlled Andriivka (41km north-north-east of Mariupol), about 15km from the contact line, causing no damage or injury. The reason for the detonation is yet to be determined. The off road area was marked with mine warning signs. Following the incident a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that there was a minefield east of the road, recently laid by Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to the soldier the detonation of the signal mine could have been caused by the vehicle’s vibrations.
In government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) the SMM were told by two men and three women (all in their sixties) that a number of houses were damaged by shelling on 23 May. The SMM saw one destroyed house and damage to several others. The SMM was not able to determine the direction from which the shells were fired. Residents said the village was also shelled on 7 May. There were no casualties on either date. The SMM noted the presence of Ukrainian Armed Forces in close vicinity to the village. Ukrainian Armed Forces corroborated the residents’ accounts of shelling on the night of 23 May.
The Cossack regional commander in “Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled Slovianoserbsk (32km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that clashes in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (36km north-west of Luhansk), between Cossacks and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, on the morning of 26 May had resulted in the deaths of two “LPR” members - a claim supported by another local commander. However, staff at the local hospital in Slovianoserbsk told the SMM that there was only one confirmed death resulting from the incident.
At the bridge in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM was told by a group of civilians (mostly women, different ages) that a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier on the bridge fired two or three warning shots into the air after a woman argued with checkpoint personnel. At another government-controlled checkpoint nearby, the SMM saw approximately 300 persons and 50 vehicles stationary. According to some of those present they were prevented from crossing into “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM visited a formerly state-funded home for children with disabilities in “LPR”-controlled Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk). The director of the home told the SMM that as there had been no budget to maintain the building for the last two years, the children suffer from inadequate health care and are undernourished. The home hosts 126 children (over half of whom are confined to bed), with serious psychological and physical disabilities. Due to the absence of salaries, there are no therapists available to provide children with paediatric rehabilitation. Staff members (who have not received a salary since December) and volunteers maintain the building. According to the director, they receive humanitarian support from the Russian Federation, the Akhmetov Foundation, and both private and international donors.
The SMM visited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas and noted some of the heavy weapons previously recorded by the SMM were missing. At one holding area, the SMM noted that there were six new pieces on site and that three were missing which the Commander said had been removed for maintenance. At another holding area the SMM noted that 11 heavy weapons pieces were missing. The Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander said nine pieces were being used for training and two pieces were undergoing maintenance. The SMM were unable to verify where weapons had been moved to. Locations where the weapons were held comply with the respective Minsk withdrawal lines.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movement in areas that are in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM observed a convoy of seven multi-purpose light armoured towing vehicles (MTLBs), four of which were mounted with surface-to-air missiles (9K35 Strela-10).
In Odessa the SMM monitored a rally of pro-Maidan activists at the Court of Appeal as an appeal was being heard regarding pre-trial measures of restraint (house arrest or pre-trial detention centre) for a journalist accused of separatism and possession of drugs (Articles 110 part 2, and 309 part 2 of the criminal code respectively). Approximately 60 people of all ages (5-10 of whom were female), including members of Oberih (a pro-Maidan civil society organization), the Council of Public Security (a pro-Maidan self-defence group), Auto-Maidan and Pravyy Sektor (Right Sector) took part. Half of the protestors were dressed in camouflage, four of whom were masked. Fifteen regular uniformed police, 20 riot police and 5-10 uniformed court bailiffs were present. Following a rally - during which activists accused the judges of corruption - activists pushed past police into the court. The activists entered the courtroom where the hearing had just concluded, grabbed the prosecutor’s papers and attempted to force the prosecutor outside. Police and bailiffs intervened, protected the prosecutor and escorted him to safety in a police vehicle. Activists threatened to put the prosecutor in the trash bin as an example of “people’s lustration.” The rally ended at 12:30hrs. No arrests were made at the scene, though the prosecutor later initiated proceedings against the activists.
The SMM monitored a trade unions-organized protest in front of the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv against the rise in gas prices and utility bills. Approximately 750 people – both men and women (60% female) – were present holding trade union banners. About 30 police watched proceedings. The event passed off peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson,
Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk 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.
- At the southern entrance to government-controlled Volnovakha (35km south-west of Donetsk) Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers at a checkpoint asked the SMM to provide patrol members’ nationalities. After a 20 minute interaction with the commanding officer, the SMM was allowed to proceed.