The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) assessed the security situation in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and the town of Sloviansk as tense and evolving, based on its observations on Sunday, 13 April 2014.
As the monitors moved about the cities to gather information, they were able to listen to the concerns of the local population, often initially mistrustful, and explain to them the OSCE role and its broad participation of states including Russia and Ukraine.
A monitoring team that went to Sloviansk, following reports of an attempt by Ministry of Interior forces to regain the occupied police building, encountered multiple roadblocks before being permitted to enter the town by heavily armed masked men. They spoke with people on the streets, at the barricades surrounding the occupied police building and in the town’s hospital.
In the city of Donetsk, although the number of barricades at the occupied Oblast Administration Building and tents on Lenin Square did not appear to be increasing and no pedestrians were observed near the regional police headquarters, the monitors judged that the situation could deteriorate.
In Kharkiv the monitors noted a large police presence, with up to 600 protesters in Shevchenko Park and a different group of around 2,000 protesters, who moved to the City Administration Building in the mid-afternoon. City Mayor Gennady Kernes addressed the crowd, after an initial delay, calling for a stop to the blockade and negotiations.
In Luhansk the situation also remained tense, with up to 5,000 people in front of the Luhansk Security Service Building and more than 5,000 supporters in the neighbouring park.
Teams of OSCE monitors have been working in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk since the end of March. Their deployment follows the decision of the OSCE Permanent Council of 21 March to deploy the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for an initial period of six months. The mission consists initially of 100 civilian monitors, and can be expanded to 500 people. The Mission’s mandate covers the whole territory of Ukraine, but monitors are initially being deployed to Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Luhansk and Kyiv.