Ukraine

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 2 April 2015

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This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The SMM, based on its monitoring – which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations* – observed that fighting continued in areas around the Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne.

The SMM travelled to Donetsk airport* (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk city centre) where it observed that an unidentified decomposed body, which it had previously observed, had not been removed (See SMM Daily Reports 27 and 29 March). While at the airport the SMM assessed the situation to be calm. However, shortly after its departure from the site, at 13:25hrs, the SMM heard the sound of 15 explosions consistent with incoming and outgoing mortar and artillery rounds coming from the vicinity of the Donetsk airport.

At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north of Donetsk), the SMM met officers and the Chiefs of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces. Members of the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were also present. A “DPR” member expressed concern over minefields and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) in some areas of the Donetsk region which had remained in several agricultural fields and were particularly dangerous to the civilian population as the agricultural season begins.

For the first time since the SMM’s establishment, the SMM was allowed to pass “DPR” checkpoint in Shyrokyne (16km east of Mariupol) without a “DPR” escort. The SMM travelled to Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 43km east of Mariupol) and the border crossing point between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

On 1 April, the SMM visited the observation point near Sopyne (government-controlled, 4.5km northwest of Shyrokyne, 16km east of Mariupol) where, between 15:45 and 15:48hrs, it heard 7 mortar rounds of undetermined calibre as well as four outgoing 75mm artillery shells originating from the east of its position and impacting to the northwest. Small arms and heavy machine gun fire was heard to the east. Additionally, five outgoing mortar rounds and four artillery shots of unknown calibre were heard to the southeast of the observation point. On 2 April at the same location, the SMM heard 18 outgoing 82mm mortar shells originating approximately 500m west of its position and impacting the area of Shyrokyne as well as 26 outgoing artillery rounds, estimated to be 75mm, originating from east of the observation point and impacting near Shyrokyne. Also, one mortar shell impacted east of the observation point.

While in Staryi Aidar (government-controlled, 20km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard several explosions originating from the southeast of the village. According to local residents, the Ukrainian Armed Forces were demining the area but the SMM could not verify this information.

At 12:15hrs on the outskirts of Luhansk city the SMM observed 14 trucks marked with signs of the Russian Federation Ministry of Emergency Situations, stationary, with their engines running. The SMM did not observe the content of these trucks and could not ascertain their destination.

On 2 April, the SMM visited the village administration in “LPR”-controlled Illiriia (30km south-west of Luhansk) and met the local Cossacks commander, his deputy as well as a village administration official. The commander stated that they had apprehended a number of individuals suspected of looting abandoned properties and that, after they inflicted a “traditional Cossack punishment” on them, which he described as a form of beating, the suspects were handed over to the regional administration in “LPR”-controlled Lutuhyne (21km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM revisited four Ukrainian Armed Forces and three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas and was able to verify that all weapons previously recorded were on site, that their locations comply with respective withdrawal lines and that all serial numbers are consistent with the previous visits.

The Lviv regional police confirmed to the SMM that on 1 April a false bomb alert resulted in the temporary evacuation of 40 teachers and 527 pupils from a school in Pustomyty (19km south-west of Lviv).

On 1 April, the SMM observed a press conference in Lviv where representatives of the Lviv regional state administration said that a commission (See SMM Daily Report 27 February) consisting of members of the regional administration and the Ukrainian Armed Forces had to date allowed 800 of some 1,000 claims to progress for land allocation submitted by “Anti-Terrorism Operation” soldiers adding that the process takes around eight months per claim.

The SMM visited the scene of an alleged explosion which was reported by the media to have occurred at the branch of the Russian bank Sberbank in Borschagivska Street Kyiv at approximately 04:30hrs on 2 April. On site, the police confirmed the explosion and the SMM observed that the bank’s door had been blown off by the explosion which created significant damage to the entrance including an automated teller machine (ATM) as well as to the corridor. No damages were observed on neighbouring buildings. The police confirmed to the SMM that the case was under investigation by the Security Service of Ukraine, but the charges have not yet been established.

Kyiv law enforcement agencies informed the SMM that on 2 April there were two separate bomb alerts at “Ukraina” shopping mall and Ocean Plaza shopping mall in Kyiv at around the same time in the afternoon. Both locations were temporarily evacuated and no bombs were found.

On 1 April, the SMM monitored a picket, in front of the building of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in Kyiv, constituted of approximately 100 young and middle-aged people including 40 women. The protestors called for the government to take measures to protect national air transportation business from low cost airlines and held signs requesting the lustration of the head of the National Aviation Service. Some 10 Automaidan activists displayed a mock coffin depicting the National Aviation Service and covered in stickers of European low-cost airlines. The building was guarded by 12 police and National Guard officers. The protest ended peacefully.

On 2 April, the SMM monitored a picket, in front of the building of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, constituted of approximately 100 men and women most of whom were middle aged. Speeches delivered centred around the need for anti-corruption measures and the recent conflict between President Poroshenko and former Dnepropetrovsk governor Igor Kolomoisky.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa and Ivano-Frankivsk.

  • Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.

The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. For this reason, the SMM requires security guarantees from the “DPR” and “LPR” which are not always provided. Where such guarantees are limited to escorted movements, and escorts are not provided for all planned patrols or are delayed, this also represents a restriction of SMM freedom of movement.

The SMM was stopped and held for 20 minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Volnovakha (government-controlled, 54km south of Donetsk) and was asked for the names and nationalities of patrol members as well as the vehicle number plates which were written down following which the SMM was allowed to pass.

En route to Lysychansk (government-controlled, 75km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM briefly was stopped at Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints on three occasions and each time one Ukrainian soldier noted the OSCE vehicle number plates and asked for the surname of the SMM patrol leader.
While approaching the border crossing point (BCP) at Izvaryne (“LPR”-controlled, 63km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM was stopped by a “border guards” patrol who said that the SMM had to obtain a special permission from the “LPR ministry of state security” without which it would not be allowed access to the BCP and the border area. The SMM patrol was then escorted by the border guards patrol to Krasnodon (“LPR”-controlled, 43km south-east of Luhansk).

Contacts

Michael Bociurkiw Spokesperson OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine 26 Turgenevska Street 01054 Kyiv Ukraine Office: +380 44 382 0832 Mobile: +38 067 4083107 michael.bociurkiw@osce.org

Iryna Gudyma Senior Press Assistant OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine 26 Turgenevska Street 01054 Kyiv Ukraine Mobile: +38 067 4021716 Iryna.Gudyma@osce.org