Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine - based on information received up until 22 April 2014, 20:00 (Kyiv time)
This update is provided for the media and the public.
Western, Central Ukraine, including Kiev, as well as many regions of the southern part of the country remained calm. In the regions neighbouring the Luhansk and Donetsk districts some tensions continued – they resulted either from the political polarization or fears of possible activities of armed opponents of the government. The situation in the Luhansk and especially the Donetsk regions was tense with no significant signs of de-escalation.
The general situation in the Kharkiv region remained calm despite a rally attended by around 200 people that took place in front of the city hall in Izium, approximately 40 km north of Sloviansk. The demonstrators called for transforming Ukraine into a federal state and protested against the presence of Ukrainian armed forces participating in the “counter-terrorist” operation in the Donetsk region.
The situation around the occupied SBU building in Luhansk did not change. The Special Monitoring Mission was approached several times by people expressing their concern with regard to the status of the Russian language, lack of attention from the Kyiv government towards the situation in the region as well as an alleged misinformation campaign portraying the occupants of the building as separatists. According to the Deputy Governor of the Luhansk District, the absence of bloodshed in Luhansk since the takeover of the state security service (SBU) building was a result of the dialogue between the authorities and persons occupying the building. The interlocutor assessed the situation in the region as calm in rural areas and tense in local industrial centres such as Krasny Luch, Severodonetsk and Rubizhne.
The overall security situation in the city of Donetsk and in the district remained tense. Occupation of state institutions continues. According to the Donetsk Governor, the armed groups were difficult to negotiate with – they have no leader, no coherent point of view or set of demands. He considered that the support for separatists by the local population was decreasing. The Special Monitoring Mission, accompanied by high-ranking local Ukrainian officials, also met with representatives of the separatist groups who stated that the differences in opinions and political views among opposing groups are impossible to overcome. The occupiers noted that the Government of Ukraine’s view that the Geneva statement did not apply to the Maidan deepened the crisis, and only a 'civilized divorce' was therefore possible as a political solution. The occupiers claimed not to have obstructed the delivery of the city's administrative services during their occupation of the administration buildings.
The Special Monitoring Mission also met the Mayor of Mariupol, who said that around 100 armed men were occupying the city administration building. According to the Mayor, the protesters understood the fact that the occupation of the local administration buildings significantly hampered the administration in fulfilling its basic functions towards the local population. According to the representatives of the Mariupol Prosecutor’s Office and penitentiary authorities, five remain in custody as suspects following the attack on the military installation in Mariupol.
The team also visited Kramatorsk, where eight men dressed in black and wearing masks were observed in front of the local police building. Police officers seemed to have free access to the building. According to the Chief of Kramatorsk police, the police continued their routine activities. In the town, the city administration building was found to be barricaded with tires and scrap metal; the barricades were manned by approximately 14 people, including women. The group controlled the access to the building. A small number of civil servants and other citizens were observed to be able to enter the building freely. The flags of the Donetsk Republic and the Russian Federation were observed at the top of the same building.
In Dnepropetrovsk the general situation remained calm, despite a number of public events organized in the city throughout the day. The Special Monitoring Mission was provided with a list of nine roadblocks in the Dnepropetrovsk region and visited four of them. The checkpoints were constructed only recently and were manned by both the police and paramilitary National Defence personnel. According to one of the latter’s representatives, the National Defence headquarters has set up a monitoring and controlling system and a network of roadblocks built on roads leading to Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk. They were also working on setting up a similar network of roadblocks to the East and South of Dnepropetrovsk.
In the Kherson region the general situation remained calm. The team met with the First Deputy Mayor of Skadovsk and the First Deputy Head of the Regional Administration, who informed the team about the current situation in the region with regard to persons migrating from the Crimean Peninsula. Despite extensive preparations conducted by the local administration to receive persons requiring assistance, no one requested help from the administration; according to interlocutors it might be that migrating persons had decided to go further in-country or stay with extended family or friends elsewhere in Ukraine. The Special Monitoring Mission also met with the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kherson district. According to him, damage had been done to signs and doors of their premises; furthermore, people had disrupted their political rallies, making numerous threats and calling them ‘separatists’.
The general situation in Odessa remained calm. A high-ranking official from the District Administration asserted to the team that he had not received any information about armed separatists being present in the region.
The situation in the western Ukrainian cities of Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv as well as in Kyiv was calm. The team visited the Maidan and entered the city administration building to follow up on the progress of refurbishment work being done in the building; according to the team, work in five of the 11 floors is about to be finished and the building is partially operational.