The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). In Kharkiv another explosion occurred.
An explosion, causing no injuries, occurred on Victory Street in Kharkiv’s October district, near a military facility, on 24 November around midnight. This is the fourth explosion registered in the Kharkiv region since 9 November (see SMM Daily Reports 11 November and 24 November). The SMM visited the site and observed damage to the concrete fence of the facility and windows of a nearby building. Interlocutors from the State Security of Ukraine (SBU), the prosecutor’s office and the military commissariat (Ministry of Defence) said that the explosion was another deliberate attempt to intimidate the local population and destabilize the region.
On 25 November, around 12:00, the Kharkiv regional administration building was evacuated and searched due to a false bomb threat. No explosive device was found. This is the fourth bomb alert received by the regional administration since 27 October.
The SMM visited government-controlled Verkhnia Vilkhova (27km north of Luhansk). The local residents of the village said that six houses had been damaged by Grad shelling on 24 November at approximately 13:30hrs and 15 more on 20 November. The SMM observed damaged houses and remnants of Grad rockets.
The SMM met the deputy head of government-controlled Novoaidar (58km north of Luhansk) administrative district, who stated that there had been an increase of internally displaced persons (IDPs) following the announcement of 10 November that the payment of pensions for those residing in areas not controlled by the Government would cease.
In Kyiv the Chief Monitor met the mayor of Donetsk. He expressed concerns over the dire humanitarian situation in Donetsk and the implications of the presidential decree No. 875 “on urgent measures to stabilize the socio-economic situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions”. The mayor said he had appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Social Policy to continue with the payment of social services to vulnerable persons.
On 24 November, at 22:23hrs, the SMM observed five successive powerful explosions originating from approximately 3.7km to the north-east from Tekstilshchik micro-district (12km south-west of Donetsk). At 23:44hrs the SMM observed approximately 20 outgoing rockets fired at an angle higher than 45 degrees originating from approximately 2km north-west of Tekstilshchik sub-district. While monitoring the JCCC headquarters (HQ) in Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard outgoing rounds at a distance of around 1.2km north-northeast at 11:50hrs. The Ukrainian JCCC duty officer informed the SMM that these artillery rounds were fired by the Ukrainian Army in response to earlier shelling by irregular armed forces against their positions near Maloorlivka (12km south of Debaltseve).
While visiting the JCCC in Soledar (55km north-east of Donetsk), a Ukrainian officer and two Russian Federation (RF) staff members confirmed a shelling incident in the vicinity of Debaltseve over the last 24 hours without giving further details.
At around 14:00hrs on the way to Dzerzhinsk (55km north of Donetsk), on road T0516 (government-controlled area), the SMM heard a 12.7mm sniper rifle shot fired in the distance outgoing from “DPR”-controlled Paselok mine 6/7.
The SMM visited the Border Crossing Point (BCP) between Ukraine and the RF in Marynivka (75km east of Donetsk), an area under the control of “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). The BCP was functional. The “DPR” “immigration and customs commander” stated that there were approximately 1,000 daily crossings with most people seeking food and fuel supplies within the RF.
While monitoring the situation in “DPR”-controlled Komsomolskoe (57km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM was approached by a representative of the “DPR” forces who requested the SMM to leave the village, which he described as a restricted zone, and subsequently escorted the patrol out of Komsomolskoe. In the village of “DPR”-controlled Kumachove (63km south-east of Donetsk), the situation was clam.
In Mariupol the SMM conducted two patrols in the government-controlled villages of Starohnativka (48km south of Donetsk) and Svobodne (53km south-east of Donetsk) where the situation was calm. In Starohnativka villagers reported that they have not had electricity for three days, which resulted in the school’s closure.
At 09:28hrs at the Ukrainian Army Checkpoint (CP) No. 7 on the Donetsk main road near Mariupol, the SMM was delayed for 40 minutes as the CP commander stated the OSCE vehicle was not on the list of approved vehicles.
On 24 October the deputy mayor of Berdiansk (230km south-east of Dnipropetrovsk) said to the SMM that the city administration was increasing the city’s defences in collaboration with the police, self-defence and battalion groups and civil society. She explained that checkpoint personnel stopped and checked every vehicle entering the city and that several firearms-related arrests had been carried out recently. The head of Batkivshchyna party in Berdiansk also told the SMM that security measures have been reinforced and two new CPs have been established in the area.
The SMM met the advisor to the governor of Kherson, the deputy head of the Black Sea Border Guard, the deputy governor for international and economic issues and the commander of the Kherson regional emergency services. The interlocutors told the SMM that there would be growing pressure on the region following the recent announcement of the RF on the establishment of a “Crimea Group” within the Armed Forces of the RF. The SMM was requested to look into the possibility of joint patrols along the administrative boundary line.
The SMM met the regional representative of the Ministry of Defence in Odesa who said that the southern region had been stable but the overall alert level remained high.
The SMM met the rector of Mechnikova National University in Odesa who explained that the Russian language was an important cultural element to the people of Odesa, but stressed that this should not be viewed by the central authorities as incompatible with strong support of Ukrainian unity.
The situation in Chernivtsi and Lviv was calm.
The SMM met the head of the Ivano-Frankivsk regional department of social protection who stated that 81 per cent of the 2,571 registered IDPs in the region had applied for benefits as per presidential decree No. 505.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored the first hearing of a major general of the general staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, suspected for a breach of duty that led to the death of 49 soldiers when an Il-76 aircraft carrying them to Luhansk in June 2014 was shot down. Approximately 30 demonstrators of mixed gender and age were demonstrating in support of the major general outside of the court hearing.
The SMM attended a roundtable discussion in Kyiv on the right to education in Donbas, with the participation of the Minister of Education and Science, the president’s Commissioner on the Settlement of the Situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, the rector of the Donetsk National University, members of Parliament and representatives of various governmental agencies. It was stated that more than 30,000 displaced children from Donbas were going to schools in other regions of Ukraine; 5,538 students from Donbas had to move to other regions for their studies; and 14 higher education institutions have already moved or are in the process of moving out of Donbas.