Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 27 April 2015

Situation Report
Originally published

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations.* The SMM observed that the security situation around the Donetsk airport has seriously deteriorated. The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the area of Shyrokyne and for the first time was not prevented from visiting adjacent villages.

The security situation in the area around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk) has seriously deteriorated whereas in Luhansk region the SMM observed no incidents involving the use of weapons.

From the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard a total of 550 explosions from the north-east, north-north-east, north-west and west, at a distance of one to six kilometres from its position. The SMM assessed that approximately 90% of all the explosions were caused by 120mm mortar and heavy artillery rounds. The number of violations in this area has increased sharply compared to the violations recorded in the previous days.

From a parking lot basement in the destroyed new terminal of the Donetsk airport, the SMM heard six explosions consistent with the sound of artillery or mortar shelling. The SMM saw one of them impacting 1,5km north of the airport runway and estimated it to be a 82mm mortar shell.

The SMM visited the office of the JCCC in government-controlled Avdiivka (15km north-west of Donetsk) and was informed by the Russian Armed Forces and Ukrainian Armed Forces representatives that there were 44 violations reported on 26 April between 15:00 and 21:00hrs in the area including the use of anti-aircraft guns and 120mm mortars. The interlocutors also reported 26 violations consisting of small arms fire, automatic grenade launcher a well as 82mm and 120mm mortars on 27 April until 12:00 hrs.

The SMM met with the director of the State Migration Office in Mariupol who informed the SMM that Donetsk region residents could replace their lost national passports by bringing three witnesses who know the applicants. This procedure has been frequently used, he said, by Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who left their homes without their documents. According to the interlocutor during the first three months of 2015, 10 to 15 percent of the national passports issued in the region were prepared using this procedure.

The SMM visited for the first time the “DPR”-controlled villages of Dzerzhynske (25km east of Mariupol), Leninske (22km east of Mariupol), Oktyabr (26km north-east of Mariupol) and Zaichenko (24km north-east of Mariupol)*. In Dzerzhynske, the residents informed the SMM that one man was killed outside his house when a mortar shell hit the yard at around 16:00hrs on 26 April. The crater analysis on this site indicated that the mortar was fired from a westerly direction. The SMM observed further craters in the village, which, according to residents impacted on the same day. In Zaichenko, the SMM also saw “DPR” members exercising at a shooting range in the village as well as four Infantry Fighting Vehicles (BMP-1, BMP-2, BTR-70 and MTLB).

In Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol, “DPR”-controlled) residents complained to the SMM about the intense shelling of the village. The inhabitant showed the SMM that several houses, the school and a kindergarten were severely damaged by mortar shelling, according to interlocutors on 25 April between 19:00 and 21:00hrs. The crater analysis performed by the SMM showed that the mortars were fired from a westerly direction.

The SMM went back to government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) and observed newly constructed military fortifications (trenches, tank ditches) (see SMM daily report 25-26 April 2015, There was no excavation in progress while the SMM was on the spot. The villagers complained to the SMM that the new fortifications are too close to the village. The SMM facilitated a temporary arrangement between the Ukrainian Armed Forces present and the villagers. According to this arrangement, the excavations would not continue and the demonstrators would agree to return to their homes and not invite the press until a lasting solution is found. The Ukrainian military personnel also agreed that they would check all fields in the area for mines. The villagers dispersed shortly after this arrangement was reached.

On 26 April, the SMM spoke with the local Aidar volunteer battalion commander and six of his soldiers in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). The commander expressed concern about the 9 May celebrations where he fears that armed members of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) could be intoxicated. The SMM suggested arranging a meeting with its local counterpart on the “LPR” side prior to 9 May. The commander supported the idea.

The SMM returned to a heavy weapons holding site spotted on 24 April in “LPR”-controlled territory. On the site the SMM observed 18 main battle tanks (MBT) T-64 and one MBT T-72. All weapons complied with the withdrawal lines. The MBTs were in different stages of maintenance.

The SMM revisited one heavy weapons holding area of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and found all the items previously recorded to be in situ. The area holds 18 Uragan (BM-27) multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). The SMM checked these weapons for the first time on 7 March (see SMM Daily Report 9 March 2015, and has visited the holding area several times since.

The SMM also checked a site where heavy weapons are being prepared for a “LPR” Victory day parade to be held on 9 May. The SMM recorded no changes in the numbers and type of heavy weapons reported after previous visits (see SMM daily report 23 April 2015,

The SMM continued to observe the presence of military hardware close to the contact line. In Donetsk region, the SMM observed three MBT T-64 stationary in government- controlled areas and two T-64 in “DPR”-controlled Oktyabr (26km north-east of Mariupol). On 27 April the SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) monitored the area around Shyrokyne, where it observed a number MBTs on both sides of the line of contact. In particular, the UAV observed four MBTs in the area of Bezimenne (“DPR”-controlled, 28km east of Mariupol), two MBTs in Lomakyne (government-controlled, 15km east of Mariupol), one MBT in Pavlopil (government-controlled, 27km north-east of Mariupol) and one MBT in Oktyabr. In government-controlled areas of Luhansk region, the SMM observed on 26 April four MBTs T-64 in (already reported, see SMM daily report 23 April)

In Kharkiv, the SMM enquired with regional representatives of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the city council and political parties on the legal status of the rallies scheduled by activists during the upcoming May celebrations. Following an advice issued by the local SBU, the city council representatives said they would request from the Kharkiv administrative court the prohibition of all political rallies until 10 May. According to MoI and SBU as well as city council officials, there were increased risks of terrorist attacks during this period. On 24 April, the court prohibited the regular Ukrainian Communist Party (UCP) march scheduled on 1 May. Representatives of the UCP said however that another meeting they planned on 28 April in front of the regional administration building has not been prohibited by the court.

On 26 April, the SMM observed the weekly speeches on Kulykove Pole square in Odessa and spoke with two activists from the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Voice of Odessa (Golos Odessy). The head of the NGO stated that on 23 April her home had been searched for the third time by the SBU. She also stated that another member of the NGO had been detained by SBU around 24 April and severely beaten while in custody. This information was reportedly provided to her by the victim’s attorney. The information was subsequently corroborated to the SMM by a member of the UN Human Rights Mission in Ukraine (HRMU) who was present at the hearing on measures of restraint at Primorskyi district court, and observed contusions on the individual.

The SMM met with the recently re-elected head of Ivano-Frankivsk city court who informed the SMM that the city court was dealing with several cases of desertion some of which were at the trial phase, while others were concluded, with pronounced sentences.

In Kyiv region, the SMM attended an official opening of the first centre for the psychological and physical rehabilitation for “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (“ATO”) veterans in Ukraine. A representative from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence emphasized that all Ukrainian servicepersons who returned from the “ATO” area would undergo counselling and testing.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Lviv and Chernivtsi.

  • 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.

In Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM was denied access once again by the “DPR” to the eastern part of the village, despite assurances from “DPR” leadership and the presence of a “DPR” escort. Different from the previous days, the “DPR” armed men did not give any reasons but flatly denied access to the area.

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Andrii Dziubenko
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