OSCE SMM Spot Report 20/2021: Members of the armed formations prevented the SMM from leaving its Forward Patrol Base in Horlivka

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On 17 October, at 16:03, the SMM observed that the vehicle gates of its Forward Patrol Base (FPB) in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) was being locked with a chain and a padlock, and that a vehicle with blue “DPR” plates was parked south of its gates, blocking the exit. It also saw two members of the armed formations standing next to the vehicle.

The owner of the hotel where the FPB is located (a man in his sixties) informed SMM staff that the Mission would be prevented from leaving the premises citing “orders from the ‘Mayor’ of Horlivka”. He also said that all exits had been blocked by members of the armed formations. Using CCTV cameras at the hotel, the Mission saw three tents pitched in front of the hotel, and four people (unknown genders and ages) were gathered near the tents.

At 17:00, two men (in their thirties) in civilian clothing entered the hotel and informed SMM staff that they were allowed to move freely throughout the hotel and the parking lot behind the hotel, but that they were not allowed to leave the hotel premises until the member of the armed formations reportedly detained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces inside the disengagement area near Zolote on 13 October had been released. The situation continued past the end of the reporting period [and is ongoing]. The SMM observed a calm situation.

The Forward Patrol Base in Horlivka is an OSCE/SMM Office, enjoying immunities and privileges. Restriction of access to and from the Office should be considered a violation of such immunities and privileges as well as the commitments of those in control.

The OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 specifies that the SMM shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. Unrestricted and unconditional access to all areas is essential to ensure effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation, as well as other mandated tasks. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.