The SMM continued to carry out activities related to the monitoring of non-use of weapons in areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Interlocutors from the Crimean Tatar community informed the SMM that the building of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People in Simferopol had been searched by Russian Security Services.
The police in Kharkiv informed the SMM that on 17 September an intoxicated man in camouflage uniform, armed with an AK-47 and a hand grenade, attempted to highjack a police vehicle at the main checkpoint (CP) on the road to Chuiguev (40km south-east of Kharkiv). The police said that the suspect, who was taken into custody, was subsequently identified as a member of the volunteer “Aidar” battalion.
On 17 September a 10-hour blackout affected the entire Luhansk region, from 16:30hrs until 02:30hrs (see Daily Report 18 September). Various interlocutors from the volunteer “Aidar” battalion and local Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) co-ordinator, attributed the blackout to an attack from the positions of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) to the main power plant in Shchastya (25km north of Luhansk). On 18 September the SMM visited the site of the power plant and heard more than 10 mortar rounds being fired from positions under control of irregular armed groups affiliated to “LPR”. The Ukrainian Army responded with at least one mortar round. The SMM observed that two of the plant transformers had been damaged. One was hit, presumably by a mortar round, and appeared to be in need of replacement. The second also appeared to have been damaged by shrapnel from a shell. According to the “Aidar” officer in charge of the security of the plant, during the shelling the power plant caught fire and all transformers had to be turned off. This caused the blackout.
The SMM visited Stanitsa-Luhanska, Popasna and Pervomajsk where it observed and received reports of alleged breaches to the non-use of weapons arrangements.
The overall security situation remained volatile in the city of Donetsk and the SMM could hear, and received reports from local inhabitants of shelling at irregular intervals in the city’s outskirts, mainly in the north, airport area, and in the south-east. On 18 September some 30 people gathered in the city centre, close to the SMM office, with banners saying “Donetsk People’s Republic is with Scotland”.
On 18 September the SMM visited the airport in Mariupol (115km south of Donetsk) where Ukrainian Army representatives confirmed that the previous day they had fired anti-aircraft systems at a UAV. (See Daily Report 18 September)
In Mariupol city the situation remained calm. The SMM spoke to the manager of the city’s bus station who stated that buses to Rostov-on-Don (Russian Federation) are full of passengers in both directions and that many Ukrainian refugees are returning from the Russia Federation.
In Dnipropetrovsk and Kherson the situation remained calm.
The SMM met with the director of the Odessa Regional State Administration Department of Social Protection who explained that the sum owed to sanatoriums and resorts, where IDPs have been accommodated thus far, is approximately UAH 20 million UAH (EUR 1.16 million). For this reason, although places are still available, these sanatoriums are reluctant to continue hosting IDPs without receiving any further financial assistance. The interlocutor stated that 80 locations within the region have been identified to accommodate IDPs for the winter season. These are mainly medical facilities, which are currently empty and need to be refurbished.
The SMM observed, on the Central Square of Chernivtsi, a protest against the shooting of the film “Under Laws of War”, in the Russian language. The protesters, about 30-40 persons, men and women, and a large media presence, explained that they think the film distorts historical facts related to the events of 1941 in Bukovyna and promotes a Soviet narrative of history.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM spoke to the regional military commander who stated that the 3rd wave of mobilisation has come to an end and there are no plans to start a 4th wave unless an order comes from Kiev. The SMM received confirmation from the Ministry of Defence that the 3rd wave of mobilisation has come to an end throughout the country.
On 18 September the police in Lviv informed the SMM that they had received information about a bomb alert at Lviv International Airport. The airport suspended its activities for 40 minutes whilst 300 persons were evacuated. No device was found.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored a gathering of around 20-30 people in front of the Ministry of Defence. The majority of the protesters were women. The participants said that they are relatives of Ukrainian personnel from the 25th Separate Airborne Brigade fighting in the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO). They requested the immediate rotation of ATO personnel as some of them had been fighting since March-April without interruption. No police were visible at the scene during the protest. The event ended peacefully.
On 17 September Mustafa Djemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatars, informed the SMM that in the morning of 16 September, FSB (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti- Russian Security Services) personnel searched the premises of the Mejlis. FSB personnel explained they were searching for illegal literature and weapons. During the search, documents and money were confiscated. Later on that day, Crimean de facto authorities went to the building of the Mejlis and presented a court decision stipulating that property of the Foundation “Crimea” is to be confiscated (Foundation “Crimea” is the legal entity that administrates the work of the Mejlis); and requesting members and staff of the Mejlis to vacate the building, otherwise the court decision will be forcibly implemented. On 16 September the SMM spoke to Mr Refat Chubarov, the Head of Mejlis of Crimean Tatars, who corroborated information on the incident. On 18 September the SMM spoke to Ahtem Chiygoz, the deputy head of the Mejlis, who also confirmed the incident.
The SMM, due to lack of access to Crimea, could not independently verify the situation.