KYIV, UKRAINE 19 June 2014
The situation across the country was calm, except parts of Donbas where tensions remained. Donetsk city remains outwardly calm, with no substantive change to the security situation. In a significant and positive development, the SMM has made contact with both the Donetsk team and the Luhansk team, which have been missing since 26 May and 29 May respectively.
In Kharkiv the situation remained calm.
In southern parts of the Luhansk region, the situation remained tense.
The SMM facilitated and monitored the process of recovering bodies of ‘South East Army’ combatants from Shchastya (20 kilometres north of Luhansk) back to Luhansk, following an agreement with the Ukrainian armed forces of a temporary ceasefire. Upon arrival at the Shchastya graveyard, the SMM was informed by representatives of the local municipality that three bodies of ‘South Eastern Army’ fighters had been buried by locals. The SMM learned that their relatives from Luhansk had asked the Ukrainian Red Cross to recover the bodies. The Ukrainian Red Cross team proceeded with the exhumation in the presence of the SMM and an officer of the Ukrainian armed forces. The SMM escorted the Ukrainian Red Cross vehicle carrying the bodies to the morgue of the Luhansk regional hospital. The trip was completed without any incident.
Casualty figures from the previous days’ fighting at the outskirts of Luhansk were unavailable. However, the head of the regional hospital in Luhansk city told the SMM that there were four killed and 27 injured. He said all had been in uniform, and were – although unidentified at this stage – thought to be members of the ‘South Eastern Army’.
According to SMM observations the Regional Administration building - the location of the so-called ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ government - in the city centre of Luhansk was reinforced with sandbags and machine guns.
The SMM met in Svatove the regional police commander in charge of Luhansk region, who provided the SMM with a security assessment according to which the situation was increasingly unpredictable. The SMM observed that the police headquarters in Svatove were heavily fortified, and at checkpoints coming into the town thorough checks were carried out by police.
In Donetsk city, an anti-government demonstration took place. Protesters marched against the government's military action against armed groups in Donbas region and shouted slogans of 'Donbas' and 'No War'. An estimated 1,500-2,000 people marched in an orderly and peaceful column to Lenin Square, escorted by the police. They were then joined by other demonstrators at the square.
In a meeting with the SMM, Alexandr Khodakovsky, 'Donetsk People’s Republic Minister of Security' and commander of the Vostok battalion, noted that, while a ceasefire and subsequent negotiation was not excluded, the position of the so-called 'Donetsk People’s Republic' remained unaltered: that the Government should withdraw its armed forces to the western region boundary. If a ceasefire were agreed, it was not clear that all groups would observe it because a number of them were not under 'Donetsk People’s Republic' control, he said. He noted that there were now two competing centres of power outside the city - Sloviansk under the 'Minister of Defence' Strelkov, and Horlivka under Igor Bezler.
In Dnepropetrovsk the SMM attended a press conference at the Regional Administration building, on the occasion of the signing of a Memorandum of Co-operation between Mustafa Dzhemilev, member of the Ukrainian Parliament and a prominent leader within the Crimean Tatar community, and the head of Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration. Dzhemilev stated that the Memorandum of Co-operation was about assistance from the Dnepropetrovsk region, in particular with regard to support to displaced persons coming from Crimea to this region. During his visit to Dnepropetrovsk, Dzhemilev had a meeting with university students and met the local Muslim community.
The situation in Kherson remained calm.
In Chernivtsi, the SMM observed protests of relatives of soldiers in front of the military barracks. The protesters were relatives of soldiers serving in eastern Ukraine, and were complaining regarding rest periods for their kin. In the morning the number of protesters was around 55. Four uniformed police officers as well as six police officers in plain clothes were observed. Military officers approached the crowd and listened to complaints. In the afternoon the number of protesters reduced to 25, who gathered calmly in front of the barracks, while no police was present. A petition for the president was handed over to a military representative, demanding rotation and better supply for military personnel serving in eastern Ukraine.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv remained calm.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a protest in front of the general prosecutor’s office organized by the representatives of ‘Right Sector’ and ‘Maidan Self-Defence’. The protesters demanded the resignation of an alleged corrupt prosecutor and his six subordinates in Kyiv. The protesters submitted a petition letter to the general prosecutor asking for their demands to be met by 16:00, 18 June. The number of participants increased from around 150 participants to 200. The general prosecutor then gave a press conference outside of the prosecutor’s office and stated that the prosecutor in question as well as his subordinates would be relieved from their positions. The protest ended at 17:30. No security incidents were reported.
At Kyiv Central Railway Station, the SMM noticed a recently-established information desk for internally displaced persons (IDPs). A consultant from the Kyiv city administration was manning the desk. The purpose of this facility is to provide information, such as basic administrative procedures for IDPs and hot-line numbers in different municipalities.
The SMM visited the Pushcha-Voditsa sanatorium (run by the Kyiv municipality) where around 150 displaced persons were staying. Most of them are from Crimea, in addition to a handful of families from eastern Ukraine. The sanatorium has reached full capacity and also provides psychological and legal support. The sanatorium administration was mainly concerned about the funding of the heating system for the coming winter.
The SMM also visited the rehabilitation centre in Pushcha-Voditsa, where 32 IDP children, of whom 25 are from Sloviansk, were accommodated. Most of the children were without their parents/families, who were still in the area of conflict or were lodged in other places in Kyiv.
Senior Press Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turgenevska Street
Mobile: +38 067 4021716
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turgenevska Street
Office: +380 44 382 0832
Mobile: +38 067 4083107