Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine - based on information received until 18:00 hrs, 23 May (Kyiv time)

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Significant tensions remain in Donetsk city and much of the surrounding region, particularly to the north and north-east of the city; and in Luhansk city and the area to the south. Other parts of Ukraine were calm.

The situation in Kharkiv remained calm.

Luhansk Regional council adopted a statement calling on the Ukrainian government to cease the anti-terrorist operation. At a meeting of business and employers’ groups – employing together 200,000 people – concern was expressed at falling production and sales, and transport difficulties owing to road blocks, all of which had resulted in lay-offs. Delegates called on the government to cease the anti-terrorist operation and to provide security for businesses in the area. Complementing the information given in 23 May 2014 report, limited fuel is still available in Luhansk city despite more general shortages.

In Donetsk city SMM observed the area of the Regional Administration building where the overall situation was calm and quiet. Only one car horn was heard, a supporter of Rinat Akhmetov’s protests. ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) supporters were absent.

Elsewhere, SMM noted that the permanent main roadblock in the western vicinity of Donetsk in the area known as Pisky, previously abandoned and dismantled, is now manned by some 40 armed, uniformed and masked separatists. Next to the roadblock there was an ambulance giving aid to one bloodied uniformed man. One kilometre further on, SMM saw three Ukrainian police officers blocking the road, preventing access to Krasnoarmiisk. According to the police officers there were armed clashes in the area.

SMM was told by a local official that, in the vicinity of Karlivka village, 30 km west of Donetsk, an armed confrontation had taken place between the supporters of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and the ‘Donbas Battalion’, a pro-Kiev armed faction.

In Mariupol (113 km south of Donetsk) SMM could hear the midday sirens from Akhmetov’s Illich Iron and Steel Works, presumably the start of the earlier announced three hour strike, but observed no patrolling by police or the Metinvest holding company staff.

SMM visited Pershotravensk (140 km east of Dnepropetrovsk) to verify media reports that on 22 May around 40 armed individuals had surrounded the building of the local police with the alleged intention of forcing the head of the local police to resign. The acting Mayor of the town, Oksana Vinnytska, and her deputy told the SMM that approximately 40 members, allegedly of ‘Right Sector’, armed with automatic weapons and wearing balaclavas, had appeared in the town 22 May. They destroyed, according to the interlocutors, equipment and furniture in several rooms of the Department of Justice, removed documents, beat several staff members of a private company and stole three cars. The Mayor said that they had contacted the local head of ‘Right Sector’, who apologized for the incident and promised to return the looted documents and reimburse costs of destroyed equipment. The deputy head of ‘Right Sector’ in Dnepropetrovsk region, Herman Nazarenko, told SMM that the members of the organisation had moved into the town 22 May with the aim of stopping narco-trading activities.

The Governor of the Zaporizhia region (south of Dnepropetrovsk) told SMM that the situation in the area is under control, and the risk of spill-over of tension from the neighbouring Donbas region is small.

The situation in Kherson, Odessa and Chernivtsi was calm.

In Ivano-Frankivsk, the SMM monitored an event commemorating Yevhen Konovalets (1891-1938, a political leader of the ‘Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists’). Approximately hundred people, including veterans of the Second World War, representatives of the city administration, religious communities, Right Sector as well as other organizations and ordinary citizens attended the event. A wreath was placed at the monument and speeches were delivered. The commemoration was conducted peacefully.

A local tour operator in the mountain resort of Yaremche (64 km south of Ivano-Frankivsk) informed SMM that the current situation in eastern Ukraine had not affected the tourism sector so far; tourists from the Russian Federation continue to travel in the area.

The SMM met in Lviv on 22 May with the Chairman of the NGO ‘West-Ukrainian Resource Centre’, which deals, inter alia, with migration in rural areas. According to the interlocutor, around 1500 persons have moved from Crimea and Eastern parts of Ukraine to Lviv in the course of the past few months.

The situation in Kyiv was calm. There have been several demonstrations daily, unrelated to presidential campaigning. No presidential rallies were held in public places. Protection at the block-posts around Kyiv has been reinforced for the election period.

Contacts Michael Bociurkiw Press Officer OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine 26 Turgenevska Street 01054 Kyiv Ukraine Mobile: +38 067 4083107