Two incidents involving explosions occurred in Kharkiv on 25 September; the SMM visited both sites. The first explosion occurred in the Komintern district at 02:30hrs at the office of a lawyer who is also an independent candidate in the legislative elections as well as a pro-unity activist. The police confirmed that the explosion resulted from an RPG rocket. This office was also used for storage of items collected by the population for supporting soldiers taking part in the Anti-Terrorist Operations (ATO). A second explosion occurred at 04:10hrs in front of a supermarket, which hosts an ATM belonging to Privat Bank. The police has not yet determined the nature of the explosive device or the target of this second attack.
On 25 September, the SMM observed a rally with 40 elderly pro-unity female activists in front of the Russian Federation (RF) Consulate in Kharkiv against the decision by the RF to send Nadya Savchenko, one of Ukraine’s first female pilots for a forensic psychiatric evaluation in a hospital. According to Ms Savchenko and her defence lawyers, she had been captured by irregular armed forces and later handed over to Russian forces. The RF maintains that she ‘voluntarily’ crossed the border allegedly to seek asylum, which she denies. Ms. Shavchenko is currently under trial in the RF in relation to the death of two Russian journalists in a mortar attack near Luhansk on 17 June. This event was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.
The SMM monitored a pro-unity rally in front of the regional administration building in Kharkiv. Around 80 activists of diverse age and gender protested against the recent rejection of the territorial defence budget by the regional council and supporting the initiative of governor Baluta, who had called President Poroshenko to dissolve the council. The event was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.
In Luhansk on 25 September at 13:50 the SMM heard approximately 25 mortar and artillery shots being fired between the Ukrainian Army (UA) and “Luhansk People’s Republic” “LPR” checkpoints near Smilye, coming from the direction of Pervomaisk. The SMM verified through a site inspection that the UA checkpoint (CP) at the crossing of P-66 and the road to Frunze was the target of incoming artillery shots. On 26 September, the SMM returned to the UA CP near Smylje and was informed by the CP that on the previous evening between 20:00hrs and 24:00hrs the CP had been shelled; the SMM observed the presence of fresh impacts on the site. The SMM also heard a heavy barrage impacting in the vicinity of the UA CP at Frunze and was later able to confirm that the UA CP had been shelled.
On 26 September, the SMM observed several artillery impact explosions near Shchasty and later observed four tanks, and two armoured personnel carriers (BTRs) carrying UA soldiers at the first CP from Shchastya to Severodonetsk which were rejoined by eight tanks and two BTRs previously seen near the UA CP at the entrance of Novoaidar.
In Donetsk The SMM met the so-called Minister of Interior and the Minister of Security Service of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and discussed the security arrangement necessary for the operation of the SMM.
The SMM also monitored a meeting between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Armed Forces representatives in the town of Soledar (100km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM representatives were invited by the Ukrainian side and listened to representatives of both armed forces. The SMM will evaluate its possible contribution in order to assist the effective implementation of the non-use of weapons.
The SMM visited all eastern checkpoints in Mariupol, which were observed as largely calm.
The SMM observed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the Ukrainian armed forces being recovered between checkpoints east of Mariupol. Checkpoint personnel also informed that the UA sometimes station military spotters on top of civilian apartment blocks adjacent to checkpoints.
In Dnipropetrovsk the situation remained calm.
The SMM visited “Chongar” checkpoint (180km south-east of Kherson) on the administrative boundary line (ABL) with Crimea and observed antitank trenches along the ABL and the build-up of a new permanent Ukrainian CP facility.
In Odessa, the SMM met a Russian community member and Crimean activist and blogger who said that her property in Simferopol had been searched by armed Russian government officials on 8 September. She was allegedly taken to police for interrogation and charged for dissemination of extremist material.
In Chernivtsi the Regional Council adopted a decree that all products originating from Russia will have to be visibly labelled. Bukpravda, an online newspaper in Chernivtsi, published a request to all inhabitants to assist with detecting separatists and pro-Russian elements and report them to the SBU (Ukrainian State Security) and/or police.
In Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv the situation remained calm.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored on 25 September a protest in front of the Presidential building, which constituted of approximately 200 persons, mostly men from the Kharkiv AutoMaidan, Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, COMPAS, Hromadske Varta Kharkiv and Dergadur Alternativa. The protestors sought to meet the President to ask for the removal of the Mayor of Kharkiv whom they accuse of being pro Russian. The protest was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.