Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 18 January 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the work of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). The SMM heard many instances of heavy artillery fire in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Marches were held in many cities across the country commemorating the civilians who died in Volnovakha. An SMM convoy was prevented from travelling through Luhansk, with shots fired above SMM vehicles. In Odesa, the SMM visited the site of a bomb explosion.
On 18 January, the SMM spoke with residents in Hirske (69km west of Luhansk, government-controlled) who stated that they heard shelling on a daily basis. At 09:40hrs the SMM heard two sets of multiple impacts of military ordinance, conceivably Grad impacts, possibly in an area north of Hirske. At 15:09hrs, when the SMM stopped on the outskirts of Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk, government-controlled), they heard artillery, mortar, and Grad fire exchange. The SMM was unable to pinpoint the firing location or impact areas.
Five SMM vehicles containing 11 monitors en route from Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) towards Artemivsk and Perevalsk (43km south-east of Luhansk, “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled) were stopped by armed persons wearing camouflage uniform in a civilian vehicle. An armed man, who did not identify himself, queried whether the SMM had permission to travel through the area. He then told the SMM convoy to turn around, and shot small arms fire into the air. When leaving the area, another volley of small arms fire was heard. The SMM were then passed on the road by the same group of persons who escorted them towards government-controlled territory. The SMM continued to Sievierodonetsk (75km north-west of Luhansk, government-controlled).
On 17 and 18 January, the SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region. Near the village of Semenivka (22km north-west of Donetsk, government-controlled), the SMM heard numerous outgoing and incoming rounds of an unknown type. Ukrainian soldiers at a checkpoint near Ocheretyne (32km north-north-west of Donetsk, government-controlled) reported that just prior to the SMM arrival, the area was shelled with Grad rockets. The SMM heard artillery fire nearby and saw up to ten fresh craters, fired from a location unknown which appeared to be consistent with Grad rocket impact.
A convoy of seven civilian cars carrying 20 persons armed with AK-47, moving from the direction of Amrovsiivka (40km south-east of Donetsk, “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled) towards Kumatshove (60km south-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) was observed at a checkpoint manned by armed “DPR” members affiliated with a local Cossack group, north of the Ulyanivske border crossing point (60km south-east Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled).
The SMM observed several fresh craters, consistent with traces of mortar and heavy artillery fire along the H15 road, between 18km and 20km west of Donetsk. The direction of fire could not be verified.
In Andriivka (57km south of Donetsk, government-controlled) the SMM saw three craters caused by recent shelling. The direction of fire was unknown. The SMM also saw three craters caused by shelling, in close proximity to the local school in Kamyanka (62km south of Donetsk, government-controlled). The shells were fired from an unknown direction.
On 17 January, the Ukrainian Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, and the Russian Federation Major-General, representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) Headquarters (HQ) in Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) noted a deterioration in the situation relative to the previous 24hrs. During the period from 08:00hrs on 16 January to 08:00hrs on 17 January, the JCCC HQ registered 98 violations: 42 reportedly committed by Ukrainian Armed Forces and 56 by “DPR” or “LPR” forces. Most violations occurred at Donetsk airport and in surrounding areas.
A border police officer in charge of checking the documents of people travelling from Horlivka (35km north-north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) to Artemivsk (66km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) via Maiorsk (45km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) told the SMM that he has not received clear instructions on new procedures related to movement in and out of government-controlled territory. He said that people and buses are allowed to pass, while passage is denied to loaded cargo trucks. The commander at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint 12km south of Artemivsk told the SMM that individuals with an ID and a special Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) permit are allowed to pass to and from government-held territory.
In Kharkiv, the SMM monitored a “march for peace and against terrorism”. Approximately 2,000 people, both men and women of different ages, took part. 100 police officers were present.
The SMM observed a “march for peace” in Dnipropetrovsk. Approximately 1,000 persons of all ages with about equal numbers of men and women were gathered. The “Maidan Sicheslav” non-governmental organization (NGO), organized most of the speeches. Representatives of the “Pravyi Sektor” (Right Sector), leaders of the political parties of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Baktivschyna, Svoboda, and the Radical Party joined the crowd with 20 police officers in attendance. Many participants carried Ukrainian flags and banners reading “Je suis Volnovakha” and “Je suis Ukraine”. The crowd dispersed peacefully at 14:00hrs.
Police confirmed to the SMM that on 16 January at approximately 21:45hrs an explosion in Odesa damaged the building of Diamant Bank. Noone was injured. The SMM saw damage to masonry and a protective steel grill on one of the windows of the bank. Several windows were broken in the vicinity. Police told the SMM that they estimated ½kg of explosive (TNT) was used. The police are investigating.
In Odesa, the SMM monitored a peace march/commemoration for civilians killed in Volnovakha (see SMM Spot Report 14 January and SMM Daily Report 14 January). Approximately 250 people mainly aged between 30 and 50 years old took part, almost half of whom were women. Thirty men in self-defence camouflage uniforms and about 25 police officers were also present. The event opened with the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem and a few short speeches. Some held Ukrainian flags. The crowd dispersed around 15:00hrs. The atmosphere was calm.
The situation in Kherson remained calm.
A crowd of 200 people, of all ages, though mostly men, assembled for a march at the Central Square in Chernivtsi in commemoration of those who died in the incident at Volnovakha. The national anthem and patriotic songs were sung. Seven police officers were present. The event passed off peacefully.
On 18 January in Ivano-Frankivsk, the SMM observed a march in commemoration of those who died in the incident at Volnovakha, organized by the “Community Development” NGO and Ivano-Frankivsk “Foundation for Regional Initiatives”. Almost 80 participants marched peacefully to the city centre, where they sang the national anthem. Six police officers provided security.
In Lviv, the SMM saw approximately 2,000 persons of all ages, including children, gather in commemoration of those who died in the incident at Volnovakha. The march was organized by “Lviv Automaidan”, a self-defence group. Among those in attendance were activists from the “Pravyi Sector” (Right Sector), supporters of the Azov volunteer battalion, and the Svoboda party. 35 police officers were present. The event passed without incidents.
The SMM monitored a commemoration of those who died at Volnovakha held in Kyiv at Maidan/Independence Square on 18 January. At 13:00hrs, more than 5,000 people (equal numbers of men and women, all ages) were present. Civil society and “Automaidan” activists, as well as a small number of members of volunteer battalions (Azov, Donbas) were present. Participants held posters with the slogans “Ya Volnovakha”. Ukrainian President Poroshenko gave a speech. At 14:00hrs, several thousand people gathered on Mikhailovsky Square and moved quietly to join the gathering on Maidan/Independence Square. Ukrainian, NATO, and “Pravyi Sector” (Right Sector) flags were noted. The SMM estimated the number of persons present at 16:30hrs to be around 15,000 (all ages, including families with children). Between 14:00 and 16:30hrs, only traffic police were visible, although the SMM saw several buses of riot police nearby. The event passed off peacefully.