The security situation in Donetsk remained volatile. Intense shelling in Donetsk city continued. In Mariupol local inhabitants fear possible attacks by irregular armed groups. Reportedly, the “Aidar” battalion occupied the main power plant in Shchastya.
In Kharkiv the situation remained calm.
In Donetsk city, in the early hours of the day, the SMM heard explosions and shooting for about half an hour coming from the north and west of the city centre. Reportedly, the water supply for the whole city appeared to be experiencing difficulties, since the filtration plant had been without electricity from the evening of 3 September due to ongoing fighting. No precise information was available on when repair work would start.
The SMM visited the Donetsk central railway station and saw workers starting repair work on the shelled roof.
Due to several rounds of outgoing mortar shelling coming from the direction of the airport, the SMM observed the inaccessible airport from a distance of 1 kilometre.
The SMM Chief Monitor met with the mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, in Kyiv who confirmed that considerable parts of the city had been heavily damaged. He said that enormous funds would be needed to restore the destroyed infrastructure. According to the mayor, the city is facing serious problems with water supply and electricity. The mayor was concerned about the forthcoming winter and the fact that authorities would not be able to provide central heating. He said that 35 schools had been destroyed during the conflict and subsequently 75,000 students could not go to school in Donetsk. The mayor suggested that the OSCE should initiate the formation of a commission comprised of Ukrainian, Russian and European parliamentarians in order to visit Donbas and assess the damage caused by irregular armed groups.
In Mariupol residents expressed fear because of possible attacks by irregular armed groups. Heavy fighting was reported in the area of Shyrokyne (24 km east of Mariupol city) and Bezimenne (34 km east of Mariupol). The SMM visited Shyrokyne and monitored the situation (see Spot Report of 4 September).
The SMM went to the Mariupol bus station and observed a bus departing to Novoazovsk. The bus station duty officer said that bus traffic was running according to the regular schedule.
The SMM met with the acting head of Mariupol railway station who said that due to the large number of students, train traffic to Kharkiv had been reintroduced. Since 30 August trains have been departing on a daily basis from Mariupol to Kharkiv. After taking into consideration customer demands, the railway management may modify the schedule on 6 September.
The SMM observed that the volunteer “Aidar” battalion had occupied the main power plant in Shchastya (24 km north of Luhansk city), currently the only one providing electricity to the entire region. The SMM was prevented from accessing the location and could see physical barriers and sandbags placed around it. No police forces were present. A Ukrainian military official confirmed the occupation by the “Aidar” battalion, but indicated that the move was intended to ensure that the plant was not taken by anyone else.
The SMM visited Pobeda (70 km northeast of Luhansk city) and spoke to the mayor who said that at least ten rockets had struck the village. The SMM saw several unexploded rockets as well as shell holes.
In Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk the situation remained calm.
The SMM was informed by the director of the Russian cultural centre in Lutsk (150 km north of Lviv city) that her private vehicle was defaced. The SMM was shown pictures of the damaged car with front and rear windows on the driver’s side smashed. Yellow and blue paint were visible on the car. The interlocutor claimed that this was a planned action against the life and health of herself and her family. In a meeting with the police in Lutsk, the SMM was told that the police were aware of the incident and patrols in the area would increase.
In Kyiv the SMM monitored several protests. One protest, by approximately 150 people, was held in front of the regional administration court against ongoing legal proceedings initiated to ban the Communist Party. No incidents were reported.
Another demonstration, held in front of the presidency building in Kyiv, gathered about 400-500 people, supporting Ukrainian soldiers serving in the security operation in Donbas. Dissatisfaction about the conditions Ukrainian soldiers were serving in the conflict zone, was expressed. Namely, the lack of heavy weaponry was criticized. The SMM could see “Right Sector”, “Maidan Self-defence” as well as flags of other political parties. More than 20 uniformed police officers were guarding the entrance gate to the presidency building. After two hours the crowd dispersed. No incidents were reported.
At the Ministry of Defence in Kyiv, the SMM observed about 15 women mainly from Lviv who demanded information about their relatives sent with the Ukrainian army to Donbas. Some claimed their relatives had been detained in Luhansk as prisoners of war by irregular groups. The SMM saw that a representative of the Ministry of Defence spoke to the protestors and provided them with a contact number within the Security Service (SBU) in order to seek information about the whereabouts of their relatives.
A demonstration in front of the Parliament in Kyiv gathered approximately 600 people. The SMM could see “Volya” and “Svoboda” party flags. The demonstrators focused on the lustration process and expressed support for Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas. About 150 security personnel, including the volunteer battalion “Kyiv” and National Guard in fragmentation vests and helmets, were securing the demonstration. No incidents were reported and the crowd dispersed after two hours.