The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with a focus on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum. In Kharkiv and Odessa the SMM observed rallies for the anniversary of the October Revolution.
In Kharkiv the SMM monitored a rally organized by the Communist Party to commemorate the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. Some 30 participants, consisting of elderly men and women carrying Soviet Union (USSR) flags, were blocked by a group consisting of football ultras and Euromaidan activists, mainly young adult males, some carrying Ukrainian flags and symbols. Approximately 350 police officers were present to keep the two groups separated. The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine was doused in green disinfectant while talking to members of the counter-demonstration. Her assailant was not identified. The police escorted participants from the Communist Party from the area in a large bus to prevent further confrontation.
On 7 November the SMM heard in VelikaChernigivka (40km north of Luhansk) Multiple Rocket Launch System (Grad) launches originating from approximately 30km south-west from its position. However, the SMM was unable to ascertain its exact origin or target.
In Luhansk the SMM visited a wholesale market on the edge of the city, and spoke with some of the traders. The SMM was informed that the produce originated from various different places, including Crimea, other parts of Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Earlier on 5 November, the SMM had visited the central market in Luhansk, where, compared with observation from the previous month, a much larger range of produce was available.
The deputy head doctor at Luhansk city hospital informed the SMM that due to the ongoing fighting the hospital had dealt with many conflict-related casualties, and that since August the number of casualties was significantly reduced. Some medical staff had left during the conflict and although some had since returned, a shortage of doctors remained a problem.
At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM asked Ukrainian and “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) members about the shelling of a school in Donetsk on 5 November 2014. (See Spot Report/Daily Report 7 November). The Ukrainian chief of staff said that the Ukrainian military had not been involved in the shelling. A “DPR” member said that his contacts in Donetsk said that anartillery shell had struck a school, that an ambulance had been dispatched, and that this information had been provided to the JCCC.
In Donetsk the SMM visited the city’s central morgue to gather additional information regarding fatalities from the shelling of the school on 5 November 2014. A doctor confirmed that two teenagers had been killed and that the morgue had received their bodies on 5 November 2014. At the Church of St. Vladimir of the Moscow Patriarchate, two priests confirmed that there had been a funeral service for the two teenagers, which had been attended by hundreds of people as well as journalists.
On 7 November, following reports of intense fighting at Donetsk Airport that had resulted in a high number of casualties, the SMM contacted a member of the “DPR”. The interlocutor said that that “DPR” had notified the relevant JCCC sector and headquarters in Debaltseve. As a result of shelling, he said, several members of the “DPR” had been wounded but none killed. A Ukrainian member of the JCCC headquarters told the SMM that the JCCC had brought about a lull in fighting at the airport earlier in the week but that in the previous few days the situation had deteriorated. He said that the JCCC would again try to bring about de-escalation of the situation. Due to security concerns, the SMM could not verify the situation at the airport and the surrounding area.
In Mariupol, the SMM met with representatives of the State Emergency Service for the Donetsk region. The interlocutors stated they were engaged in the evacuation of residents from “DPR”-held territory to territory controlled by Ukrainian forces. They also stated that they were operating three internally displaced person (IDP) assembly points in Mariupol, Volnovakha (45 km south-west of Donetsk) and Krasnoarmiisk (60 km north-west of Donetsk), where IDPs were received for a maximum of three days, prior to their onward travel to other destinations.
In Zaporizhzhia city (67km south of Dnipropetrovsk) the local representative of the Ombudsperson's office informed the SMM about the case related to the Ukrainian Army 51st Mechanized Brigade from Zaporizhzhia, which his office is following. According to the interlocutor, in July the soldiers of this brigade had been surrounded in the battlefield and cut off from any army provisions. He said that in order to avoid death they had crossed the border into the Russia Federation and there they were asked to apply for refugee status; when they refused, they were sent back to Ukraine and now face prosecution for desertion. He said that peaceful rallies were held in Lutsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv to demand the charges be dropped.
In Kherson, the SMM met customs officials, who stated that in the coming days customs would relocate its administrative boundary line checkpoint in Stavky / Kalanchak (91km south-east of Kherson) 200 metres to the southeast, as the road there was wider and provide for a better work environment for customs control / examination. The customs representative said the Crimean de facto authorities’ current ban on Ukrainian goods was unevenly applied. The list of banned goods could change with little or no advanced notice. This resulted in trucks queuing for hours or even up to a day, and subsequently not being permitted to pass into Crimea.
The SMM observed in front of the Opera House in Odessa a gathering of about 100 persons, mainly males, aged between 50 and 70 years, some carrying red flags, to celebrate the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. The area was controlled by at least 200 police officers, mostly in regular service uniforms, and about 30 riot police officers. The crowd dispersed peacefully and moved to Kulikovo Pole. There the SMM observed 120 to 140 participants, mainly elderly men and further away from the crowd, eight to ten Euromaidan activists. Two women and one man wearing Ukrainian Colours and two men wearing camouflage fatigues attempted to provoke the crowd with verbal taunts. The police formed a cordon and were also within the crowd and therefore were able to contain the situation. The gathering finished peacefully.
The SMM met members of the City and Regional Self Defence Unit located in the Chernivtsi City Hall Building, who stated that there were at least 50 members in the city’s self-defence unit and at least 500 members in the Regional Self Defence Unit. The interlocutors informed the SMM that that since the crisis in the east had continued to escalate, some of the basic activities, such as patrolling and hands-on security functions had been discontinued as many of their volunteers had been either recruited or had volunteered for military service. As a result, their activities were now more focused on supporting soldiers and volunteers fighting in the east.
In Ivano-Frankivsk, Lvivand Kyiv the situation remained calm.