Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 30 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions focusing on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol/Memorandum. In the city of Donetsk and surrounding areas, the overall situation was generally tense.
In Kharkiv between 11:00hrs and 16:00hrs, the SMM observed several peaceful gatherings of 20-40 people at the pedestal of the former Lenin statue in Liberty Square. The crowds were mostly composed of senior citizens of mixed gender and discussed diverse opinions regarding the removal of the statue. No visible police presence was observed.
In Luhansk the SMM visited the Ukrainian Army (UA) checkpoint on road-66 close to Smile (35km north-west of Luhansk) and was told that their position had been shelled by tank fire and mortar rounds in the morning. Representatives at the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) CP nearby also informed the SMM that they themselves came briefly under mortar fire in the course of the morning and could not ascertain the origin of the shelling.
The SMM also visited the “LPR” CP north of Vesela Hora (19km north of Luhansk) where the CP personnel reported that two soldiers had been wounded on the frontline between the “LPR” and UA checkpoints at 14:00hrs due to shelling. The SMM proceeded to the UA CP and was told that UA staff had sustained sniper and machine-gun fire in the morning from the direction of Vesela Hora and had to return fire. At Vesela Hora, west of the road to Schastya, the SMM encountered “LPR” dug-in positions and observed two tanks as well as one BMP. Upon arrival the SMM was asked by the “LPR” deputy commander to leave the position.
The SMM met Lysychansk (90km north-west of Luhansk) police chief who said that during the past two months 38 individuals have been detained in relation to the current conflict in eastern Ukraine who are now in custody in Starobilsk and Kharkiv. These individuals are charged under the Ukrainian Criminal Code section 260 (creation of unlawful paramilitary or armed formations) and section 263 (unlawful handling of weapons, ammunitions and explosives) for carrying illegal weapons.
In Donetsk city the SMM heard incoming shelling throughout the day, at intervals of approximately two hours, all of which was concentrated towards the north of the city, in the direction of the airport.
While travelling to Novoazovsk for a pre-arranged meeting with the head of the local administration, the SMM was stopped at a “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) checkpoint (11km north of Novoazovsk) and asked about the purpose of their movement. The SMM team was forced to wait for the arrival of a local commander for an hour and ten minutes to discuss its access to Novoazovsk. The “DPR” agreed to escort the SMM to the administrative building in Novoazovsk but did not allow the SMM to monitor any other area in the town.
In the city of Mariupol the overall situation was relatively calm. The SMM visited seven checkpoints 07, 08, 09, 10 (on the road H20, 15km north-east of Mariupol), 13A (Talakivka, 20km north-east of Mariupol) and 14 (Skhinyi/Vostochniy, 14km east of Mariupol) none of which reported any security incidents. Nevertheless the SMM heard an explosion while at checkpoint 13A. The SMM was later informed by the UA that the explosion was unexploded ordnance (UXO) being detonated by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team.
In the town of Kramatorsk (97km north of Donetsk) and in the village of Sviatogorsk (145km north of Donetsk), the situation was calm. At 12:36hrs, in Debaltsevo (75km north-east of Donetsk) and in the outskirts of Dzerzhinsk, the SMM heard a rapid succession of explosions which the SMM believed to be consistent with outgoing GRAD rockets. The SMM also observed a new UA checkpoint 15km south-east of Debaltsevo.
The SMM visited the children’s hospital in Makievka (15km east of Donetsk) and, while in the area, heard blasts in the vicinity of its location, which became more intense at around 13:00hrs. According to the medical staff interviewed by the SMM, artillery weapons were fired from the UA position in Amvrosievka village. The SMM could not verify the direction and/or origin of the incoming artillery rounds
In Dnipropetrovsk the SMM met the head of the IDP Coordination Centre who informed that, based on their estimates, 5,000 IDPs would lack adequate shelter for the winter and that they were expecting more IDPs as properties and heating systems have been destroyed in the conflict area. The Centre has recently set up a programme to provide psychological support to the 30,000 registered IDPs in the Dnipropetrovsk Region.
The Head of Ochakiv District (129km west of Kherson) told the SMM that there has been increased general tension in the area due to the rising death toll from the Ochakiv garrison in the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” (“ATO”) zone. The “Ochakivshchyna” fund was established to raise money for “ATO” support.
The commander of the Kherson Regional Department of Border Guards informed the SMM that there were no security incidents during the past two weeks along the ABL with Crimea.
The SMM also met the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kherson whose key function is trade facilitation with Crimea. The vice president expressed his hope that the entry into force of the Crimea free trade zone, approved by the Ukrainian Parliament in August, will provide a framework to work out detailed procedures for trade facilitation and that more companies based in Crimea would start to cooperate with the Chamber.
In Odessa the SMM met Ukrainian Navy representatives who said that for the past two months the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been conducting increased patrolling and exercises around the Odessa region including the Moldovan border sector.
In Odessa the press conference of the former Minister of Emergency and Member of Parliament could not take place at the Crisis Media Centre due to disturbances by Right Sector activists. At 11:50hrs the SMM observed around 10 people dressed in camouflage uniforms with red and black insignias and wearing balaclavas enter the location where the press conference was to be held. By the time the group left the premises at 12:30hrs, another 90 persons had gathered in front of the building among which a group of approximately 30 youngsters carrying Right Sector and Ukrainian flags. The event was monitored by the police and ended peacefully at 12:45hrs.
The situation in Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv remained calm.
The SMM in Kyiv monitored a protest with ten participants of mixed gender in front of the SMM headquarters calling for the OSCE to assist in releasing hostages in eastern Ukraine. The demonstrators explained to the SMM that eight soldiers were still being held in the SBU building in Donetsk and another fifty were being held at a checkpoint in Smeloe (Luhansk region). The demonstrators are relatives of the aforementioned soldiers.
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