Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00hrs, 5 August 2014
This update is provided for media and general public.
The SMM accompanied investigators who accessed the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Ukrainian soldiers/border guards crossed into the Russian Federation after coming under attack from militants and having run out of supplies, and later, having returned to Ukraine through a different border crossing point, allegedly came under fire in the Donetsk region. There have been protests in several locations against alleged police brutality.
The SMM accompanied Malaysian, Australian and Dutch experts and police to a number of areas associated with the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash in the Donetsk region. An escort provided by the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) did not allow access to the experts’ target area, close to the village of Petropavlivka (7km south of the main crash site at Hrabove, which is 78km east of Donetsk city), saying it had been mined. The experts then accessed another site, between the villages of Petropavlivka and Rozsypne (4.5km east of Petropavlivka), although they had to temporarily withdraw after the escort, at this point also comprising armed personnel from the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”), warned that Ukrainian government forces would shell the area. The experts later went to an additional site to the southwest of Rozsypne, where they were briefed by a representative of the “DPR Ministry for Emergency Services” on “DPR” recovery efforts. The experts assessed that the “DPR” had conducted a professional search in all known crash sites.
The SMM observed two incoming mortar/artillery rounds 10km north of Rozsypne at 12:24hrs and 12:34hrs, and one out-going mortar round at a “DPR” checkpoint at the northern suburbs of Donetsk city.
The Ukrainian Army General Staff on 5 August informed the SMM that an unspecified number of Ukrainian servicemen had been handed over to Ukrainian border guards and SBU at Mavteev Kurgan (RF) / Uspenska (UKR) border crossing point (BCP) (116km south of Luhansk city) in the Donetsk region. He said the convoy had later that day been ambushed near Olhynka (43km southwest of Donetsk city) by unidentified people using RPGs, self-propelled missiles and small arms. He reported no fatalities.
The servicemen involved were part of a group of 449 Ukrainian soldiers and border guards, who, according to the OSCE Observer Mission (OM) – stationed at the Gukovo BCP (74km southeast of Luhansk city) in the Luhansk region – had crossed through the BCP into the Russian Federation on 2 and 4 August, after their position had been surrounded by militants and they had run out of ammunition, fuel and food. The OM also reported that the Russian authorities had said that the soldiers and border guards would be sent back to Ukraine via the Mavteev Kurgan / Uspenska BCP.
In Kharkiv city the head of the IDP Co-ordination Centre told the SMM that, as of 5 August, 34,047 IDPs from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and 739 from Crimea were registered in the Kharkiv region. He warned that the region had reached its limits in terms of accommodating IDPs.
In Berdyansk (285km southeast of Dnipropetrovsk city), the mayor and other municipal officials told the SMM that security was being beefed up between the city – which is located less than 20km from the regional border with Donetsk – and the Donetsk region. They said that currently three checkpoints cover the main roads into Berdyansk, but new ones were planned on secondary roads on its approaches. They said that “self-defence” groups would protect the three village council buildings situated between Berdyansk and the Donetsk regional border. They said there had been a grenade attack on the SBU building in Berdyansk about a week ago.
The mayor of Velykomykhailivka (165km southeast of Dnepropetrovsk city) told the SMM that Right Sector activists, based in a training camp at a village close to the boundary with the Donetsk region, had been harassing local people. He alleged that some of the activists, sometimes drunk, had specifically fired shots in the air, stolen vehicles at checkpoints manned by them, and had entered houses, and intimidated women. The police, he said, were powerless to act, and the authorities, at a higher level, were doing nothing to stop this behaviour. Similar allegations were made by local inhabitants in mid-July.
In Kherson the situation remained calm.
In Odessa city the SMM observed a group of 30-40 Maidan and Right Sector activists protesting outside police headquarters against alleged police heavy-handedness during a protest in the city on 3 August (see Daily Report of 4 August). The protesters also highlighted alleged police corruption and called for the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The SMM observed 100 police officers and four buses with riot police on standby.
In Chernivtsi a member of the State Emergency Service, who is also a member of the Regional Task Force dealing with IDP issues, told the SMM that there was a risk of intolerance amongst locals towards IDPs, with resentment growing because IDPs from the east were seen as avoiding military service in the east and / or refusing to work, preferring instead to live on assistance provided from the regional budget.
The secretary of Stara Zhadova Village Council (38km southwest of Chernivtsi city) told the SMM that implementation of the law on partial mobilisation had progressed without problems in the area. He said seven men from the village were currently deployed in the east. Twenty four more had already received draft notices, of whom, 14 had registered, he said. He added that the remainder were exempt, either because they were living abroad or had three or more children.
In Lviv city the SMM observed a demonstration of approximately 80 Right Sector supporters in front of the regional police office. Thirty riot police officers and 20 uniformed police officers were present. The participants demonstrated against alleged police brutality against Right Sector supporters in Odessa on 3 August. An organiser of the protest told the SMM that co-ordinated protests staged by the Right Sector had taken place in 25 cities across the country.
In Ivano-Frankivsk city the SMM observed approximately 25 Right Sector activists outside the regional office of the Ministry of Interior, protesting against alleged police brutality at a Right Sector protest in Odessa on 3 August. The protest passed off without incident.
In Pasichna (50km south of Ivano-Frankivsk city) the SMM observed that some tents in a Roma encampment appeared to have been intentionally burnt down and/or destroyed. Other Roma in Ivano-Frankivsk city have told the SMM that police in the city had ordered them to leave their encampment, and local media reported that a third group had actually left following orders from police to do so. (See Daily Report of 4 August 2014).
In Kyiv the SMM observed approximately 200 activists, from “self-defense” groups and the Right Sector, protesting outside the Ministry of Interior against what they perceived to be police heavy-handedness towards participants of a Right Sector protest in Odessa on 3 August.