The SMM monitored impacts of shelling in Donetsk, visited a border crossing point near Kharkiv, and received accounts about illegal dumping of chemical material near Lviv.
The border guard commander in Hoptivka (36km north of Kharkiv) informed the SMM that border traffic had dropped significantly to some dozens a day compared with summer 2013, when thousands of vehicles crossed the border daily. He stated that the border crossing point would have the capacity to deal with the Russian Federation’s convoy of 280 trucks.
The SMM visited the detention centre in Starobilsk (97km north of Luhansk), currently housing 502 male detainees including 62 suspected of terrorism. A 50-year-old detainee, suspected of terrorism, said that, during his three week detention, he had not experienced any abuse by wardens. Another prisoner, a 25-year-old resident of Starobilsk accused of membership in a group of Russian Don Cossacks fighting in Donbas, complained about ill-treatment during his arrest procedure.
The SMM and representatives of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) visited an area near the town of Snizhne (80km east of Donetsk) where, according to the ‘DPR’, a corpse had been discovered possibly belonging to a missing Russian journalist. The SMM saw two stationary cars in a field near the main road burned-out and damaged in a manner consistent with artillery impact. The SMM saw scattered, charred, human remains on the front and the back seats and the remains of a human skull near one of the cars. The SMM saw craters of two projectile impacts on the ground nearby, allegedly from Grad rockets. Emergency and rescue staff came to the scene and collected the charred human remains in body bags. Based on SMM’s examination of the scene, and pending forensic investigation, there is insufficient evidence to ascertain the identity of the bodies.
On 21 August the water supply was restored in the city of Donetsk. It had been interrupted for three days, allegedly due to a damaged pumping system of the city.
The SMM also observed evidence of shelling in the Kyiv district of Donetsk city. It saw two multi-storey buildings; one with several damaged apartments and the other with around 30 damaged apartments and shattered windows. Local residents of the latter approached the SMM saying that their residential area had been hit six times by mortars on 21 August. The entire apartment block lacked water and electricity. The museum of Donetsk region, seen by the SMM, was also severely damaged by shelling, including a destroyed wall, a partially collapsed roof and damage inside.
The director of a local kindergarten in Donetsk told the SMM that the facility had recently been shelled three times. He said that currently only 15 children in the age of 2-6 years were attending classes. When the SMM visited the facility in June 2014, the number of children amounted to 147. Despite these circumstances, the kindergarten was preparing for the new school year on 1 September.
The situation in Dnipropetrovsk was calm.
In Kherson, a prominent local politician of the Party of Regions claimed to the SMM that local water resources were almost exhausted on the Crimean peninsula. This, he said, had forced the factory ’Titan’, located in the northern part of the peninsula, to reduce its production significantly. He also said that, due to obstacles at the administrative boundary line and the threat of harassment by de facto Crimean authorities, the number of people visiting the peninsula from the Kherson region has decreased. He also added that many Ukrainians holding official positions, previously supporting close relations with Russia, re-oriented their political views and wanted European integration for Ukraine.
The situation in Odessa and Chernivtsi was calm.
Local residents of Oliyevo-Korolivka (60km south-east of Ivano-Frankivsk) informed the SMM about a protest against mobilisation, which had taken place in the village two days before. After 28 local men had received a letter with an instruction to visit the local conscription office for a medical examination - and bring some food with them - women from the village, who interpreted the letter as heralding the men’s deployment in the ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’, organised a protest against it. The protesters returned all 28 conscription letters to the conscription office and wrote a letter of protest to the President. They consented to the conscription of the 28 male villagers if their three demands were fulfilled – the conscripted would have to be well trained and receive proper equipment; their families should receive social benefits; and local officials, together with their sons, and IDPs from Donbas residing in the village, ought to be conscripted as well.
The co-ordinator for the Right Sector in Stryi (72km south of Lviv) district informed the SMM about unauthorized dumping of chemical waste in the area. On 21 July, he said, Right Sector activists had caught people with three trucks dumping unspecified chemical substance in a warehouse area near Stryi. The activists contacted the police and the municipal sanitation authorities, but, they said, the police investigation had been carried out ineffectively. Meanwhile, Stryi citizens became concerned about the impact of the chemical waste on their health. The interlocutor said that, on 14 August, about 50 people from Stryi blocked the Kyiv-Chop highway protesting against the government’s inaction in this case. The SMM interlocutor presented a copy of a letter from the regional environmental inspection agency with test results of the soil where the waste had been dumped, indicating high levels of lead, copper and cadmium. According to the Right Sector co-ordinator, the incident in Stryi is part of a large scale and systematic practice of illegal dumping of toxic waste in the region. The interlocutor stated that loads of chemical waste had been dumped in other areas in the region, including in the vicinity of Lviv. The Stryi city police confirmed that the case was under investigation.
The SMM monitored the ongoing clean-up of Instytutska Street, near Maidan square in Kyiv, where several dozen Maidan activists were killed in February this year. New bricks were laid by city workers on the Maidan square.