Further allegations of human rights abuses emerge in Donbas.
The situation remained calm in Kharkiv.
The “deputy minister of interior” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) told the SMM that the “DPR” had found a charred body on a road a few kilometres south-east of Snizhne (Snizhne is 80 km south-east of Donetsk city). He claimed that the remains were those of a missing Russian journalist, but presented no supporting evidence.
A resident of Makeevka (16 km northeast of Donetsk city) – speaking to the SMM – alleged that her son had been taken hostage by the “DPR” on 8 August.
At a meeting arranged by the chief of police in Starobilsk (97 km north of Luhansk city) on 20 August, a man claimed that he had been severely beaten the previous day in Polovynkyne (88 km north of Luhansk) by members of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion. He said members of the 24th Aidar Battalion – already at the centre of accusations of human rights abuses in the northern Luhansk region (see SMM daily reports of 8 August,of 11 August, 14 August) – after detaining him at a checkpoint, had accused him of separatism and had threatened to kill him, unless his wife paid over USD 10,000. She did so, whereupon he was released the same day, he said. The SMM observed that the man’s head was heavily swollen, bloody and bruised and that he had bruises and smaller wounds on his arms and legs.
The daughter of an architect employed by Luhansk City Council told the SMM on 16 August that she and her father had been detained at a checkpoint in Shchastye (24 km north of Luhansk city) on 13 August by members of the 24th Aidar battalion. She said members of the battalion had accused him of being a separatist, saying he was “on their list”. Although she was released almost immediately, her father’s whereabouts are still unknown, she said.
The head of the Luhansk regional police told the SMM that approximately 1,000 policemen had been dismissed in the Luhansk region since the start of the conflict, accused, he said, of failing to follow orders and supporting separatism. He also claimed that 50 “separatist” T-64 tanks had been seen in Luhansk in recent days, and that Ukrainian military forces had entered Zhovtnevyi district (11 km northeast of Luhansk city-centre) and Stanytsia Luhanska (24 km northeast of Luhansk city-centre). He also confirmed that Marat Bashirov had replaced Valery Bolotov as “president” of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic”.
The situation remained calm in Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Odessa.
The SMM observed an ongoing protest outside the Ukrainian Army barracks in Chernivtsi city, with approximately 40 tents close to the entrance of the barracks. Three men, claiming to be part of a group of 200 draftees, told the SMM that they refused to be mobilized, even at the risk of being prosecuted, believing they would be sent to fight in the east. The Chernivtsi Regional Military Commissioner later told the SMM that he believed that only 20% of draftees were willing to fight in the east.
A municipal official in Obertyn (50 km southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk city) told the SMM on 20 August that six local men were serving in the Ukrainian military in the east and five more, already mobilized, were undergoing training prior to their departure. She said that there had been no anti-mobilization protests in the town.
Outside a Ukrainian military training facility in Lviv city, the SMM observed approximately 60 people protesting against what they described as an unfair rotation system for soldiers fighting in the east. One of them said some soldiers had been deployed in the east for five months without leave.
A judge in Yavoriv (60km west of Lviv city) told the SMM that no cases involving draftees refusing to deploy to the east had been brought before the district court. Seven soldiers had, however, he said, been brought before the court, charged with being absent without leave.
Members of an organization promoting Russian cultural and linguistic rights in the Volyn region told the SMM in Lutsk (150 km north-east of Lviv city) on 18 August that ethnic Russians in the town were experiencing harassment, intimidation, assault and attacks on their property. They claimed local police, intimidated by Ukrainian nationalists, had failed to make any arrests. They said that although ethnic Russians amounted to 5-7% of the town’s population, they had no political representation at a local-government level. They also said that despite there being 1.000 ethnic Russian children in Lutsk, Russian was not used as the language of instruction in any school or kindergarten in the town. The SMM will continue to monitor the situation and engage with the community.