Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 20 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region as compared to the previous three days, mainly at and around Donetsk airport and Debaltseve. In Luhansk region, recorded ceasefire violations were training related. The SMM’s freedom of movement was restricted on four occasions in areas not controlled by the Government.* The Mission followed up on media reports about damage to a World War II monument in Kharkiv and an alleged seizure of a church in Rivne. In Kyiv, the Mission observed a public gathering by groups commemorating the beginning of the confrontations on Maidan in 2014 and its victims.
The SMM observed the security situation in Donbas. At the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 9:58 and 13:26hrs, the SMM observed a total of 23 undetermined explosions: four approximately 2-4km to the west of its position, and 19 approximately 5-7km west-south-west of its position.
Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Kyivskyi district of Donetsk city (“DPR”-controlled, 7 km north-west of Donetsk city centre), south of Donetsk airport, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions, several bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and several rounds of rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire 2-3km west-north-west of its position.
In “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), between 16:40 and 17:17hrs, the SMM heard 43 undetermined explosions, 21 explosions assessed as artillery, small-arms and several bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, at locations 5-15km north and north-west of its position.
In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded eight undetermined explosions whilst in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) in areas 10km to the north, assessed as training exercises at government-controlled Mykolaivka training area (76km north-west of Luhansk). Whilst in the vicinity of government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard bursts from several types of weapons, including automatic weapons, as well as two explosions, most likely mortars, assessed as training exercises at the Trokhizbenka training area.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons, previously verified as withdrawn to the sites, were present. At one site, the SMM observed, in violation of the relevant withdrawal line, 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) which are not regulated under the Addendum but by the Package of Measures.
The SMM also revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed that at one site, six anti-tank guns (D48, 85mm) noted absent on 13 January (see SMM Daily Report, published on 14 January 2016), were still missing.
Beyond withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: at a tank range in “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km south-west of Luhansk), 24 tanks (T-64, T-72).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification. The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed the following: six towed howitzers (D30S Lyagushka; 122mm); 18 towed howitzers (2A36 Giansint, 152mm); and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). It also noted the presence Addendum-regulated weapons, namely six mortars (2B11, 120mm), not previously recorded, and 17 tanks (T-64).
In a “DPR”-controlled area beyond withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a holding area and observed that six previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were present.
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside holding areas, the SMM observed the following heavy weapons: 12 static self-propelled howitzers (2C1 Gvozdika, 122mm) at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM also revisited an “LPR” permanent heavy weapons storage site and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to this site were present.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure in an area between government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) and Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). Shortly after repair work started on the power line, the SMM heard small-arms fire at approximately 14:00hrs. At that point, repair work had already been completed and the SMM left the area.
The SMM followed up on media reports about an alleged seizure of a church in Rivne region. A representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) told the SMM that on 17 January, members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) had not allowed UOC members entrance to the church in Krasnosillia (Hoshcha district, Rivne region, 211km north-east of Lviv). A representative of the Krasnosillia village council told the SMM that UOC-KP parishioners had changed the church’s lock claiming it had been damaged. The representative of the UOC-KP contacted by the SMM was reluctant to speak and could not provide local contacts details of the UOC-KP representatives. The SMM will follow up on this incident.
In Kharkiv, the SMM followed up on media reports about damage to a World War II monument dedicated to the “warrior liberator” caused on the night of 19-20 January. The SMM observed that the brass lettered inscription at the base of the statue “To the warrior liberator” had been removed. A local representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs told the SMM that only some of the letters had been found to have been removed so the remaining were taken off by city workers and all of the letters would eventually be placed back. He said police had opened an investigation for “hooliganism” (Art. 296.4 of the Criminal Code). The SMM spoke with a representative of the city council who said that the monument did not fall under the scope of the de-communization law.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored in the evening of 19 January a public gathering by groups commemorating the beginning of the confrontations on Maidan in 2014 and its victims. Approximately 150 people (mainly middle aged men) gathered at Mykhailivska Square and listened to speeches delivered by the head of the “Voluntary Movement Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the spokesperson of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor). The SMM saw about 100 police officers present. People started moving towards the office of “System Capital Management” (a company affiliated with Rinat Akhmetov) which was guarded by approximately 75 police officers (25 with shields) and 50 National Guard members. There were five police buses and five police vans parked in front of the building. Protesters moved then to Hrushevskoho Street where on 19 January 2014 clashes had taken place between protestors and the police. The number of participants in the march slowly increased to 300. They marched with Ukrainian flags and red-and-black flags historically used, amongst others, by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). At the end of the event, participants set a number of tyres at the entrance of Dynamo stadium on fire. There was a large police presence on all access roads. Police officers and National Guard members moved to follow the march using police buses. The event lasted for 1.5hrs and no incidents were reported.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Chernivtsi.
*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 mine threats, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas. “LPR” members continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring many areas alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
Denial of access:
- At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint in the area of Sakhanka (“DPR”-controlled, 24km east of Mariupol), after a 25-minute wait, a “DPR” member refused to allow the SMM to enter the village.
- In “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve, the SMM was denied access by “DPR” members to a fenced-off building which appeared to be a humanitarian distribution centre.
- Armed “LPR” members refused to allow the SMM access to an “LPR” compound on the eastern outskirts of Luhansk city.
- Armed “LPR” members refused to allow the SMM access to an “LPR” compound south of “LPR”-controlled Yuvileine (10km west of Luhansk).
- At a “DPR” checkpoint in the area of Zaitseve, a “DPR” member delayed the SMM’s passage for 25 minutes. He asked the SMM monitors to hand over their passports for “registration.” The SMM refused. Upon an intervention requested and the arrival of a Russian Federation Armed Forces representative to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) the SMM was allowed to proceed.
- Near the “LPR checkpoint at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), six armed "LPR" members stopped the SMM, checked the patrol plan, inquired about the purpose of the SMM's visit, and recorded SMM monitors' names and ID numbers. They said that they had been ordered by their superior to do so. The whole process took three minutes.
*Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfillment of its mandate”.
 All times are in Eastern European Time unless otherwise specified.