Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 14 September 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 the parties and security considerations*. The SMM observed a calm situation both in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM visited a number of schools on both sides of the contact line.
The number of ceasefire violations observed at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) decreased in comparison with the previous day. Between 9:00 and 15:25hrs, from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed one undetermined explosion 3-4km north-west of its position and assessed it to have likely been a controlled detonation. Both the representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC present at the railway station told the SMM that they had not recorded any ceasefire violations during the previous night.
In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), between 11:45 and 12:20hrs, the SMM heard 15 undetermined artillery explosions approximately 3-5km south-south-east of its position. The Ukrainian Armed Forces representative to the JCCC in Horlivka told the SMM that the sounds were from a training range located south-east of the town.
The SMM observed the exchange of human remains (referred to by Ukrainian Armed Forces officers as the remains of three “DPR” members) recovered by the Ukrainian Armed Forces between “DPR”-controlled Spartak (9km north of Donetsk) and government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk) and their transfer from the Ukrainian Armed Forces to “DPR” members. The SMM observed how a truck transporting the bodies crossed into “DPR”-controlled area.
Long queues of civilian vehicles continue to be observed by the SMM. At the “DPR”-controlled checkpoint in Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 293 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into government-controlled area; 111 were queuing in the opposite direction. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Volnovakha (53km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw 225 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into government-controlled area and 254 queuing in the opposite direction.
In the Luhansk region, the SMM observed an overall calm situation with no ceasefire violations.
In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk), a representative of the civil-military administration told the SMM that residents had started returning back to their houses in the area. The interlocutor further explained that heating was a major concern for the village before the forthcoming winter, as the gas supply system for heating had been damaged in the vicinity of the contact line due to continuous shelling.
The SMM visited a number of schools on both sides of the contact line. In “LPR”-controlled Artemivsk and Brianka (46km and 49km west of Luhansk respectively), the SMM was separately informed by the principals that their schools are applying mainly the Russian curriculum and that the books are provided by the Russian Federation. The principal of the school in Artemivsk said that the roof seriously damaged by shelling had not yet been repaired. The principal of Brianka School told the SMM that due to past shelling, there was no running water available at the school. At a school in government-controlled Luhanske (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed extensive damage to the roof, walls, windows, and to the heating system. The school personnel present at the premises told the SMM that since April, pupils from grades one to four had been relocated to Luhanske kindergarten and distance learning had been established for pupils from fifth grade onwards.
The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. At two holding areas, the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were present. At the third holding area, the SMM observed that the serial numbers on some artillery pieces corresponded with the previous records, but three did not match the previously recorded serial numbers. The SMM thus noted that three previously recorded towed howitzers (122mm D30) were absent. The SMM also saw that one of the two previously registered towed anti-tank guns (100mm MT-12 Rapira) was missing.
The SMM observed the following weapons’ movement in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. On 13 September, in the area of government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed one towed howitzer (122mm M1938/M-30) heading north. On 14 September, in the area of government-controlled Lysychansk (75km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two towed howitzers (122mm M1938/M-30) heading south.
In Poltava (149km south-west of Kharkiv), the SMM continued to follow the trial of Kharkiv mayor Hennadii Kernes, on charges of torture, illegal confinement or abduction of a person and threat to murder (Articles 127-2, 146 and 129 of the Criminal Code) (see SMM Daily Report, 8 September). The SMM observed around 40 activists (25 women and 15 men, aged between 18 and 60) protesting against Mr. Kernes outside the court building. Participants chanted patriotic songs and the Ukrainian anthem. The event - overseen by around 50 police officers - ended peacefully. Inside the courtroom, ten pro-Maidan activists also sang the national anthem and chanted patriotic slogans. The judge ordered the hearing to continue on 28 September.
On 13 September, in Odessa, the SMM monitored a march – organized mainly by members of the Svoboda party and the Right Sector – to denounce what they referred to as “political imprisonment” of pro-Maidan activists, in particular two young men accused of the killing of Oles Buzyna, a Ukrainian writer known for his pro-Russian views who was shot dead in Kyiv in April 2015. Approximately 400 demonstrators - mainly men, aged between 20 and 60 - took part in the march. At least 75 activists, including seven women, wore camouflage clothes. The SMM counted a total of 25 Ukrainian flags, two red and black flags, one white flag with a Celtic cross, as well as one black flag with a white eagle and the word “Nachtigal” (“Nightingale”) written in white. The SMM observed up to five demonstrators whose faces were covered with masks or balaclavas. One former Member of Parliament from Svoboda party and the head of Right Sector made speeches and the demonstrators sang patriotic songs. The march was escorted by 90 police officers in blue uniforms and two buses of anti-riot police officers were present nearby. In addition, the SMM observed nine police officers, including one woman, from the new patrol unit. The protest ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kyiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.
- At the eastern edge of government-controlled Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk), two Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers stopped the SMM claiming that the road ahead and other routes in the area had been mined.
- At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint in Shyrokyi (6.6km south-west of Donetsk city centre), the “DPR” “police” stopped and delayed the SMM for 40 minutes without an explanation.
*Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.