Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 11 August 2015
Please note that this report is for media and the general public.
KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKIY, Russian Federation - The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall cross-border traffic slightly increased at both BCPs.
OM’s staff composition
The OM is currently operating with 18 staff members, consisting of 17 permanent international observers (incl. the Chief Observer) and one first-responder (an OSCE staff or mission member deployed to another mission for a short period of time), who is performing the duties of an administrative assistant. Nine staff members are currently on leave.
Cross-border movements common to both BCPs
The profile of the people crossing the border remains unchanged and can be categorised as follows:
1. Families on foot or travelling by car and buses, with a lot of luggage, often accompanied by elderly people;
2. Adults (usually of younger age) with no luggage or empty cars;
3. People wearing military-style clothes with or without backpacks, crossing on foot or in vehicles.
Compared to last week, the average number of entries/exits slightly increased overall from 10,509 to 10,531 per day for both BCPs; the average net flow went from minus 276 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation) to plus 29 (i.e. more entries into the Russian Federation). The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for just under thirty-three per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The majority of the vehicles crossing the border have number plates issued in the Luhansk region, including a number of articulated trucks and long-distance coaches commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation.
Common observations at the BCPs
The situation at both BCPs remained calm. The OM continued to observe that the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Service conducted checks and controls.
Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the Observer Teams (OTs) continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the buses do not state their route; instead they just have a sign on the windshield saying “Irregular”. Among the irregular lines observed by the OTs the following destinations were noted: three buses bound for Kharkiv, three buses on the route Luhansk-Krasnodon, one bus on the route Krasnodon-Moscow, two buses on the route Luhansk-Kiev, two buses bound for Anapa and one on the route Luhansk-Sevastopol.
During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style dress, crossing the border in both directions, decreased from 208 to 180 at both BCPs. These people continued crossing the border individually or in groups and on foot or using different types of transport (in addition to vehicles, some used buses, but also bikes and motorbikes). Approximately ninety three per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. The OTs continued to observe that from time to time persons in military-style dress have travelled across the border by bus, which makes it more difficult for the OTs to observe their movement across the border. The OTs also continued to observe physically fit young and middle-aged men in civilian clothing, with short haircuts, many of whom carry camouflage-coloured backpacks.
Furthermore, the OTs continued to observe vehicles with Ukrainian license plates, including articulated trucks, with “Donetsk People’s Republic / Lugansk People’s Republic” (“DPR/LPR”) stickers on their license plates replacing the Ukrainian flag.
During the reporting week, the OM continued to observe a high number of trucks, crossing the border in both directions, including intense cargo truck traffic at both BCPs and dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation through the Gukovo BCP. While the majority of the trucks are registered in the Luhansk region, the OTs also observed trucks registered in the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus that crossed the border. During the reporting week, the OTs have observed that the number of trucks registered in the Republic of Belarus has decreased from 104 to 76; these trucks were observed crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. Sixty-seven of these trucks crossed at the Donetsk BCP, with nine such crossings recorded at the Gukovo BCP. In addition to that, during the reporting week the OT observed two trucks registered in Poland and one registered in the Czech Republic, crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP. Separately, the OTs also observed tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The number of tanker trucks has decreased from 50 last week to 43 this week. The majority of these trucks (37) crossed at the Donetsk BCP, while the remaining six crossed at the Gukovo BCP. These trucks for the most part had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in the Russian language.
At the two BCPs the OM did not observe military movement, apart from the movement of Russian Federation Border Guard Service vehicles transporting BCP personnel and supplies.
Observation at the Gukovo BCP
The traffic flow at the Gukovo BCP has increased compared to last week. A daily average of 3,062 entries and exits was recorded, which accounted for just over nine per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow went from minus 15 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation) to plus 96 (i.e. more entries into the Russian Federation) on average per day.
During the reporting period, the OM observed a total of 13 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Gukovo BCP, 5 of whom left for Ukraine while 8 entered the Russian Federation.
As in previous weeks, the OM observed dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation. As reported previously, the OTs saw Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Service personnel checking that the trucks were empty while leaving the Russian Federation.
The OTs continued to pick up on the sound of trains running on the train tracks located approximately 150 metres south-west of the BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 19 occasions; the OTs estimated that 9 trains were going to the Russian Federation and 10 trains were bound for Ukraine. Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees in between the train tracks and the BCP.
Observation at the Donetsk BCP
During the reporting period the activity at the Donetsk BCP slightly decreased compared to last week. The daily average of 7,469 entries and exits accounted for just over twenty-three per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow changed from minus 260 to minus 67 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation) on average per day. During the reporting week, the OT observed 167 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP individually and in groups; 97 persons entered the Russian Federation while 70 left for Ukraine.
During the reporting week the OTs noted four ambulances crossing in both directions at the Donetsk BCP. All four ambulances had Ukrainian registration number plates. No wounded persons were observed in any of these four ambulances.
On 5 August at 20:18hrs the OT heard multiple automatic rifle shots coming from a west-north-westerly direction.
On 7 August at 06:11hrs the OT observed a van arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation side. The vehicle bore an inscription “Funeral service Vozneseniya” in the Russian language. After undergoing border formalities, it crossed the border to Ukraine.
On 10 August at 17:00 hrs the OT observed a truck coming from Ukraine to the Russian Federation. On its side, there was an inscription “Humanitarian aid from Novosibirsk”.
The wooden benches with a net-like cover over them that were installed last week at the entrance to the BCP are still present. The benches and the cover provide a place for people crossing the border to rest and stay in the shade during the long wait.
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/om/176816
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