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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 5 August 2016

OSCE - Sat, 06/08/2016 - 18:30

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared to the previous day. The Mission recorded a significant level of fighting during the night of 5-6 August in Donetsk region. The SMM analysed craters in Krasnohorivka, Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove) and Sakhanka. It observed weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas. The Mission noted the absence of 12 towed howitzers from permanent storage sites in “LPR”-controlled areas. It faced four freedom-of-movement restrictions, all in areas not controlled by the Government. The SMM received concrete responses to recent incidents by the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination, but no such information regarding incidents that took place in areas not controlled by the Government.

The SMM noted fewer ceasefire violations[1] in Donetsk region compared to the previous reporting period.

On the evening of 4 August, while in Donetsk city centre the SMM heard in two minutes 14 undetermined explosions 6-8km north-north-west of its position. On the night of 5-6 August, the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions, including 30 assessed as anti-aircraft cannon rounds, 7-10km north of its position.

On night of 4-5 August, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 8-10km north-west of its location. Earlier that evening, the SMM had heard in one minute 20 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, explosions assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher and recoilless-gun rounds as well as heavy-machine-gun bursts 700-1000m north of its position 7km north of Horlivka. While in Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts of 82mm mortar rounds 4-5km south-east of its location.

The SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) between 21:39 and 21:48 on 4 August recorded 11 rocket-assisted projectiles fired from west to east and one undetermined explosion at unknown distance north-west of its position. During the night of 5-6 August, in about three hours, the camera recorded 118 undetermined explosions as well as bursts of tracer fire (in sequence) from south-west to north-east, west to east and east to west.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard within 50 minutes in the afternoon 94 undetermined explosions assessed as rounds of different weapons (82mm and 120mm mortar, automatic grenade launcher), as well as heavy-machine-gun fire 4-6km south-east of its position. In the course of the day, whilst positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions at locations ranging from 2 to 6km west, west-north-west and north-north-west of its position.

In one hour in the morning, whilst in Svitlodarsk, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 10-12km north-west, and four undetermined explosions 10-12km north-north-east of its position. In the night hours of 5-6 August, within just over two hours around midnight from the same location, the SMM heard 42 explosions, including 30, which it assessed as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds 4-5km south-east of its position. In Horlivka, on the same night, the SMM heard 43 explosions, including 27 it assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 7-9km north-west of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM noted fewer ceasefire violations compared to the previous day, with no ceasefire violations recorded during the night of 4 August. Positioned 2km north of “LPR”-controlled Hannivka (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5-15km west of its position. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (65km west of Luhansk), within about 20 minutes, the SMM heard over a dozen bursts of small arms 2km east of its position.

The SMM followed up on civilian casualties and conducted crater analysis. At the Kalinina hospital morgue in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM accompanied by Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), observed the body of a woman with extensive shrapnel injuries to her head, neck, limbs and torso. According to the autopsy report, she had succumbed to shrapnel injuries she had received due to triggering a booby trap while working in her garden in Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district on 4 August.

On 4 August, in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM saw four fresh craters, all of which it assessed as caused by 120mm mortar rounds. The SMM assessed the first crater near an abandoned house as caused by a round fired from a westerly direction. The second crater was in the backyard of a house inhabited by an elderly woman and the SMM assessed that the round had been fired from a south-westerly direction. The last two craters were located near a road in the same area and the SMM assessed that one round had been fired from a north-north-westerly direction and the other – from a north-westerly direction. According to residents, the shelling had taken place between 06:00-06:35 on 3 August. No casualties were reported.

In Sakhanka (“DPR”-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw three fresh craters. The first crater was 20m away from an electricity sub-station and the SMM assessed it as caused by a projectile fired from a westerly direction. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to the sub-station. The SMM assessed the second crater, which was located in a field at the outskirts of the village, as caused by a 120mm mortar round fired from a north-westerly direction. The third crater was located in the backyard of a house inhabited by a middle-aged woman and the SMM saw two broken windows. The SMM assessed it as caused by a projectile fired from a north-north-westerly direction. Residents told the SMM that the shelling had occurred on 3 August at 22:30. No casualties were reported.

In Molodizhne (“DPR”-controlled, 20km south of Donetsk) the SMM saw nine fresh impact sites in a “detention” facility guarded by armed “DPR” members. One impact had caused the south-east part of the flat roof of an administrative building to partially collapse. The remainder of the impacts had struck the hard surface of the yard. The SMM assessed four of the craters as caused by 122mm or 152mm artillery rounds fired from a south or south-westerly direction, while a fifth had been caused by a projectile of unknown calibre fired from a northerly direction. The SMM was unable to analyse the remainder of the craters as they had been tampered with. According to the “head” of the facility, the shelling had occurred around midnight on 4 August. He also told the SMM that two “detainees” had sustained minor injuries. Medical personnel at the Dokuchaievsk hospital who treated them told the SMM that one had a shrapnel injury to his ankle and the other - to his chest and jaw. Both had been released back to the facility less than two hours after their arrival to the hospital. Near the facility, the SMM saw a two-storey house with a shattered window and spoke to a resident living in the house who stated that the window had been shattered by shrapnel around midnight on 4 August.

In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) the SMM visited two residential properties reportedly shelled on the night of 4-5 August. At the first, the SMM saw a crater in the asphalt surface on the yard of the house, and minor shrapnel damage to the nearby east-facing wall. The SMM saw the tail fin of an 82mm mortar round stuck in the asphalt and assessed that the round had been fired from an east-south-easterly direction. At the second location, a five-storey apartment building, the SMM saw a direct impact on the east-facing wall and assessed it as caused by an 82mm mortar round fired from an east-north-easterly direction. No casualties were reported at either location.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal line, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas: one surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa, 120mm) westbound on the M04 (E50) road near government-controlled Selidove (41km north-west of Donetsk), and two tanks of unknown type in “LPR”-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk). 

Beyond the respective withdrawal line but outside assigned areas, the SMM observed 13 stationary tanks (T-64) at the training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM saw 11 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM21 Grad 122mm). The SMM also observed that one area continued to be abandoned, as it had been since 26 February, with 12 MLRS (BM21 Grad 122mm) and two surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) missing. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM noted the presence of eight anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm).*

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At “LPR”-controlled sites the SMM noted that 12 towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) were missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. In “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed one armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80) with 12 armed “LPR” members on board travelling west and one stationary combat engineering vehicle (IMR-2) on a tank (T-72) chassis.

The SMM continued to insist on accountability and responsibility for violations related to impediments to SMM monitoring and verification. The SMM continued to follow up on the incident of 2 August when SMM monitors were threatened at gunpoint at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position near Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) (see: SMM Spot Report, 3 August 2016). At the JCCC in government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative presented the SMM with details of the investigations and disciplinary measures taken against the perpetrators. With regard to the shots fired at the SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle near Lobacheve on 30 July (see SMM Daily Report 1 August 2016), the representative informed the SMM that the person responsible had been identified and he had disobeyed direct orders.

In relation to the violation near Lukove (72km south of Donetsk) (see: SMM Spot Report, 29 July 2016) in which armed individuals had threatened the SMM at gunpoint, Mr. Zakharchenko continued to refuse to meet the SMM in order to indicate effective steps taken in response.*

The SMM reminded the JCCC of continued restrictions and impediments to monitoring and verification, including in the areas near Zolote and Petrivske, and reminded the JCCC of its obligations under the Addendum to help ensure these and other violations were remedied as a matter of urgency. The SMM likewise reminded the JCCC that many of these restrictions were caused by mines, which the signatories of the Memorandum of September 2014 had insisted should be removed, and the Trilateral Contact Group's decision of 3 March, stipulating that the JCCC should be responsible for overall co-ordination of mine action, with the support of the SMM.

The SMM observed the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM revisited an area in Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk) where it had seen UXO assessed as an MLRS round (BM27 Uragan, 220mm; see SMM Daily Report 5 August 2016). A local farmer stated that “emergency services” had visited the site on 4 August and declared the rocket safe. He also showed the SMM another UXO on a footpath in the area, which the SMM assessed to be a 122mm artillery shell. The SMM informed the JCCC of the location of both pieces of UXO.

The SMM observed a new mine hazard sign 2km west of government-controlled Lobacheve (18km north-west of Luhansk) on the side of the road, which connects Lobacheve to government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk). The sign read “Mines” in Russian and was hand-written on white cloth, which was hung on a movable wooden barrier.

The SMM continued to observe queues of pedestrians at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. In the morning between 09:09 and 10:09 the SMM saw 203 people (mixed gender and age) leaving government-controlled areas through the government checkpoint. In the same time period, the SMM saw 265 people (mixed gender and age) entering government-controlled areas through the same checkpoint. At 10:22, the SMM saw some 450 people still queuing to leave government-controlled areas. The SMM saw no traffic in the opposite direction. Between 15:45 and 16:15 the SMM observed 115 people (mixed gender and age) enter government-controlled areas through the government checkpoint. Within the same time frame, the SMM saw 132 people (mixed gender and age) proceed in the opposite direction.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

 

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • An armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM east of Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Lyuksemburg, “DPR”-controlled, 82km south of Donetsk), and prevented the SMM from proceeding further east. The SMM took an alternative route to Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 40km east of Mariupol). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • Four armed “LPR” members in two vehicles stopped the SMM in “LPR”-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk). An armed “LPR” member threatened one of SMM’s monitors with “arrest”, unless the SMM complied with their instruction not to stop at a pedestrian path leading to the railway tracks. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Conditional access:

  • Armed men limited the SMM’s access to a weapons holding area. The gate was locked and the SMM was informed that the guard with the key was unavailable. The armed “DPR” members present only allowed two monitors and a language assistant to climb the wall (1.2m) in order to record the serial numbers of the designated weapons. The JCCC was informed.
  • An armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at the “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge at government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). He informed his superior and only allowed the SMM to proceed after noting down monitors’ names and IDs.
 

[1]  Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

 

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Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: Explosion in Luhansk city

OSCE - Sat, 06/08/2016 - 18:18

This report is for media and the general public.

On 6 August at 07:51hrs the SMM heard an explosion approximately 3.9km east of its location in Luhansk city.

The SMM went to the site from where it had heard the explosion located at the intersection of Karpynsky and Vatutyn Street in Luhansk city, 500m north-east of SMM’s accommodation. The site was cordoned off, by so-called “LPR” “police” and the SMM could assess from a distance of approximately 15-30 meters, that an explosion had likely been caused by an improvised explosive device (assessed as approximately 1kg of high explosives) placed next to or in, a lamp post about two meters away from the vehicle, which was damaged and downed, at the side of the road. The SMM saw a black sport utility vehicle “Toyota Landcruiser Prado” severely damaged with windows shattered and front and side airbags deployed.

“LPR” “police” members at the site told the SMM that there were two casualties, without giving further details. Mr Vladislav Deynego, “LPR” member, told the SMM that Mr Plotnitsky was “in a bad condition and not able to receive visitors.”  At the time of writing, the SMM could not reach personnel at either of the two hospitals in Luhansk city for confirmation.

The SMM will continue following up to confirm the information, and observe further developments.

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OSCE/ODIHR Director Link criticizes call for reintroduction of death penalty by Tajikistan’s Prosecutor General

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 17:06

WARSAW, 6 August 2016 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today criticized the call by the Prosecutor General of Tajikistan for the reintroduction of the death penalty, and expressed concern over recent discussions related to removing the bans on capital punishment in some other OSCE participating States.

“Countries in the OSCE have committed themselves to consider the complete abolition of capital punishment, not to reconsider that abolition,” the ODIHR Director said. “Yesterday’s call by the Prosecutor General in Tajikistan for the reintroduction of capital punishment in that country is completely out of place in a region where most of the countries recognize the inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of a punishment that fails to act as a deterrent and makes any miscarriage of justice irreversible.”

Tajikistan’s Prosecutor-General, Yusuf Rahmon, told a press conference yesterday that perpetrators of premeditated murder, terrorists and traitors must be punished by death. His words followed similar statements by other leaders, among them President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Viktor Orban of Hungary, suggesting that the reinstitution of the death penalty should be opened for discussion.

Tajikistan suspended the application of the death penalty in 2004, while Turkey and Hungary completely abolished capital punishment, in 2004 and 1990, respectively.

“Rather than reversing its course, it is my hope that Tajikistan will take further steps toward the complete abolition of the death penalty,” he said. “It is also my hope that Turkey, remains with the vast majority of the OSCE participating States and will continue to  act as a strong advocate for the global abolition, as it has in recent years.”

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Raising awareness of human trafficking in crisis situations is objective of OSCE Special Representative’s Ukraine visit

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 16:10

KYIV, 5 AUGUST 2016 –OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Madina Jarbussynova, on Friday concluded an official visit to Ukraine aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking and the risks encountered by the most vulnerable groups as a consequence of the current crisis.

During her five-day visit, she met with representatives of the Donetsk Oblast state administration and female Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Kramatorsk. Ambassador Jarbussynova also travelled to Kharkiv to talk to relevant civil society representatives about the situation on the ground, how to prevent the expansion of the conflict-driven human trafficking phenomenon, and to evaluate existing mechanisms of identifying, referring and assisting victims of trafficking in human beings.

“More than one-and-a-half million citizens have been displaced – a vast number that demands a comprehensive response,” Jarbussynova said. “This vulnerable group can easily find itself in situations where human trafficking may occur.”

In Kyiv, the OSCE Special Representative met with Ukrainian authorities to discuss progress in anti-trafficking measures and review future plans.

“The Government of Ukraine has recently demonstrated a high level of commitment to addressing human trafficking, particularly in enhancing its victim identification efforts and in filing cases to relevant courts”, said Jarbussynova.

At the same time, she noted that there are still considerable gaps in the National Referral Mechanism for victims, and that long-term, sustainable measures should be sought.

The Special Representative travels regularly to Ukraine, engaging with high-level authorities and holding training sessions together with the Special Monitoring Mission and the OSCE Project Co-ordinator to strengthen the capacity of the Ukrainian institutions and OSCE monitors to spot human trafficking trends and to report on alleged cases.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 4 August 2016

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 15:56

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to the day before including more than 520 explosions. In Luhansk region the SMM noted a decrease in recorded ceasefire violations compared to the previous day. On the night of 4 August, the SMM heard single shots of small-arms fire in close proximity to  its base in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov). The SMM analysed craters in Zaitseve, Luhanske and Novozvanivka. It observed weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line, and noted the absence of numerous weapons from permanent storage sites in government-controlled areas. The SMM followed up on reports of water and power supply cuts in areas of Avdiivka and Yasynuvata due to shelling. It faced four freedom-of-movement restrictions – two in government-controlled areas and two in areas not controlled by the Government.

The SMM noted a higher number of ceasefire violations[1] recorded in Donetsk region compared to the previous reporting period, including more than 520 explosions.

On the evening of 3 August, while in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 48 undetermined explosions 8-15km north-west of its position.

On the same night, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 104 undetermined explosions 7-10km north, and 12 explosions assessed as outgoing armoured personnel carrier (BMP-1, 73mm) cannon fire 5-8km north of its position.

The SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) between 21:35 and 22:31 of 3 August, facing north-east, recorded 63 undetermined explosions and 30 bursts in the following sequence: five bursts of undetermined tracer fire and 25 bursts of direct tracer fire from east to west, north to south, south to north, north-west to northeast, north-east to north-west, east to north-west, north-east to west, south-east to north-west.

The following day, positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of the city centre), the SMM heard 236 undetermined explosions all at locations 3-10km ranging from north-west to north-east of its position. The most intense violence was noted between 08:14 and 08:42, when the SMM recorded 100 undetermined explosions 4-6km north-north-east of its position. 

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions and 13 outgoing explosions assessed as caused by automatic-grenade-launcher fire 1-7km west-south-west, west, west-north-west, north, north-north-east and north-east of its position. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions 3-5km east and south-east of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM noted a decrease in recorded ceasefire violations compared to the previous day, with no ceasefire violations recorded during the night of 3 August. Whilst in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions 5-6km south of its position. While positioned 1.5km north-west of “LPR”-controlled Hannivka (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard, within a half-hour period, more than 100 bursts of small-arms fire 1.5km east-south-east of its position – the location of a known shooting range – and assessed them as live-fire exercise – within the security zone – in violation of the ceasefire and of the Trilateral Contact Group decision on the prohibition of live-fire exercises within the security zone. Subsequently, while in the vicinity of a shooting range, the SMM saw five armed “LPR” members wearing ski masks with sniper rifles.

At 21:45 on 4 August, the SMM while at its base in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), heard 16 single shots of small-arms (pistol) fire at an undetermined location 100-150m away from the base. The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and armed “LPR” members controlling area.

The SMM conducted crater analysis. In “DPR”-controlled parts of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw a fresh crater in a field 60m away from a house and assessed it as caused by a mortar (82 or 120mm) round fired from a north-westerly direction. Residents told the SMM that shelling had occurred during the night of 2-3 August. Across the street, the SMM also saw a completely burnt and destroyed house and two neighbouring houses with minor damage. No casualties were reported.

In government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw four relatively fresh craters  with fragments of 120mm mortar rounds and 122mm artillery rounds in a garden of an inhabited house. The SMM was unable to determine the direction of fire due to contaminated craters after the recent heavy storms.

In government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw four craters near an inhabited house and assessed two of them as caused by 82mm mortar and the other two as caused by 122m artillery rounds, all fired from an easterly direction. Two residents told the SMM that shelling had taken place during the night time two days prior.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal line, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas: five self-propelled howitzers (2S1Gvozdika, 122mm) in Tarasivka (43km north-west of Donetsk); four self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152 mm) in a military compound in Donske (57km south of Donetsk); one radio-guided anti-tank system (9K114 Shturm, 134mm) mounted on a stationary armoured tracked vehicle (MT- LB) in Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 3 August of 12 tanks together with other hardware including 19 armoured vehicles and 44 military-type trucks in an industrial complex in “DPR”-controlled Budonivskyi district of Donetsk city.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM saw six towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm), while it noted as missing six towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) as first observed on 8 July. The SMM also observed that two areas continued to be abandoned, as they have been since 3 July, with 12 towed howitzers (D-30, 12mm) and six Addendum-regulated mortars (2B11, 120mm) missing.

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At Ukrainian Armed Forces sites, the SMM noted that 22 tanks (T-64) and seven mortars (five 2B9M, 82mm; and two BM-38, 82mm) remained missing. In addition, the SMM also observed missing for the first time 36 tanks (T-64) and seven mortars (BM-37, 82mm). The SMM noted that one of those sites continues to be abandoned and another site has been newly abandoned.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol); one light-armoured vehicle (Kraz Cougar) mounted with a heavy machine-gun heading north near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk). In “LPR”-controlled areas, the SMM saw: one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) at an “LPR” checkpoint south-east of Shchastia across the contact line; one infantry fighting vehicle (BTR) heading north near Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 3 August of 33 armoured vehicles and 169 military-type trucks in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, in addition to aforementioned present in the same compound as the tanks (see above).

The SMM followed up on reports about cuts to water and power supply in areas of Avdiivka and Yasynuvata due to shelling. In Avdiivka, the Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that at around 23:00 on 3 August, water and power supply to the town had been interrupted as shelling had caused damage to power transmission lines and to the Donetsk water filtration station located between Avdiivka and Yasynuvata. At Yasynuvata railway station, an employee (a woman in her thirties), stated that at approximately 04:00 of the day the water supply had been interrupted affecting large parts of the town. She added that most residents currently used water from private wells and bottled water.

The SMM continued to follow up on the incident of 2 August when SMM monitors were threatened at gunpoint at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position on the road from government-controlled Lopaskyne to Lobacheve (24 and 17km north-west of Luhansk, respectively) (see: SMM Spot Report, 3 August 2016). At the JCCC in government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces chief-of-staff told the SMM that the perpetrators had been identified. The SMM also requested the meeting with a senior “DPR” member to follow up on the incident of 29 July when SMM monitors were threatened at gunpoint by aggressive armed “DPR” members near Lukove (72km south of Donetsk) (see: SMM Spot Report, 30 July 2016). He subsequently  refused  the request.*

The SMM observed the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM for the first time saw a tailfin of a multiple-launch rocket system (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) stuck in soil 30m away from an inhabited house and some 50 rusty shells of 82mm mortars (without fuses) scattered in a nearby field.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. Positioned on both sides of the contact line, the SMM monitored the cleaning and widening of canals that provide water to the Shchastia power plant, repair works to the Mykhailivka-Lysychansk high power line near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk), repair works to gas pipelines in areas between “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk and Pryshyb (28 and 34km north-west of Luhansk, respectively).

The SMM continued to observe queues at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. In the morning, at a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 132 cars waiting in a queue to cross into government-controlled areas and six cars in the opposite direction. A man in his forties told the SMM that he had been waiting for four hours since 06:00. A man in his early thirties with his wife and 8-year-old son stated that they were travelling to receive medical treatment for his son in government-controlled areas, expressing his concern as his son should not stay in the sun for a long time.  

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • In government-controlled Hranitne (25km north of Mariupol), armed Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel did not allow the SMM to enter a military compound. The JCCC was informed.
  • Armed Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to a military compound in government-controlled Myrne (40km north-east of Mariupol), citing orders from their superior. The JCCC was informed. 
  • A senior “DPR” member refused to meet with SMM, when it attempted to follow up on the incident 29 July near Lukove.

Conditional access:

  • Armed “LPR” members at a checkpoint immediately south of the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north of Luhansk) allowed the SMM to proceed only after taking the names and ID card numbers of SMM monitors.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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OSCE/ODIHR observers to hold press conference in Moscow on Monday

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 12:59

MOSCOW, 5 August 2016 – On the occasion of the formal opening of the election observation mission (EOM) deployed by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to observe the 18 September State Duma elections in the Russian Federation, the mission will hold a press conference in Moscow on Monday, 8 August 2016.

Jan Petersen, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, will introduce the role of the EOM and its upcoming activities.

Journalists are invited to attend the press conference at 15:00, Monday, 8 August, at Interfax, 1-ya Tverskaya-Yamskaya ul., 2 Moscow, 127006.

For further information, please contact Inta Lase OSCE/ODIHR EOM Media Analyst, at +79166214710 (mobile) or Inta.Lase@odihr.ru

or

Thomas Rymer, OSCE/ODIHR Spokesperson, at +48 609 522 266 (Warsaw mobile) or at thomas.rymer@odihr.pl.

 

 

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Representatives of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan discuss implementing UNSCR 1540 at OSCE-supported meeting in Minsk

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 12:08
257951 Communication and Media Relations Section

Representatives of relevant ministries and other state agencies of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan responsible for implementing provisions of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction met at an OSCE-supported peer review meeting in Minsk from 2 and 5 August 2016, to discuss progress in their work.

Experts from the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the UN Security Council’s 1540 Committee also attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, and is the second event of its kind to be held in the OSCE region and in the world, and the first to be held in trilateral format.

Opening the event, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Valentin Rybakov said that the issues of non-proliferation are among his country’s priorities in the area of international security.

He noted that Belarus was the first state of the former Soviet Union to voluntarily refuse the opportunity to possess weapons of mass destruction, and that the withdrawal of such weapons from the country’s territory was completed in 1996. Rybakov added that his country also initiated the adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on prohibiting the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons.

Adriana Volenikova of the  OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre said regional co-operation on UNSCR 1540-related issues has become one of the most efficient means in bolstering national implementation and enhancing an open dialogue between countries that face similar challenges and benefit from close interaction in related areas.

The three States will work on a joint report on implementation and later submit it to the UNSC 1540 Committee and the UN Security Council.

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Tajik Border Troops Officers complete OSCE patrol leadership course

OSCE - Fri, 05/08/2016 - 08:49

DUSHANBE, 5 August 2016 – Twenty officers  of the Tajik Border Troops, ranked between warrant officer and major, mainly coming from border detachments  on the Afghan and Tajik border, successfully completed a four-week course today on patrolling and leadership at the Gissar Training Centre in Dushanbe.

The course, organized by the OSCE Office in Tajikistan, focused on enhancing participants’ knowledge of conducting observation missions using topographical maps, satellite imagery and other tools. They also learned about reporting and analysis, repelling methods, communications and tactical movement.

Uniforms and common tactical equipment were given to each participant. Separate medical lessons were delivered by trainers from the United States Embassy in Tajikistan. The sessions on gender mainstreaming and demining awareness were delivered by experts of the OSCE Office. Two officers of the Tajik Border Troops, who previously passed the course, also supported the OSCE in delivering the lessons.

OSCE Office in Tajikistan Counter-terrorism and Police issues Adviser Wolfgang Nikolaus, congratulated the officers on completing the course and said: “The OSCE continues supporting efforts to enhance the capacity of Tajik Border Troops Staff by providing such high-quality training courses."

The course is the eighth to be held under the third phase of the Patrol Programming and Leadership Project. The Project aims to increase the capacities of Tajik border staff in detection and interdiction of illegal cross-border movements.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 3 August 2016

OSCE - Thu, 04/08/2016 - 18:08

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM noted a similar number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the day before. In Luhansk region the SMM noted an increase in recorded ceasefire violations compared to the previous day, with many concentrated around government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and Trokhizbenka. The SMM analysed craters in Stanytsia Luhanska, Pobeda and Hnutove. It observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and anti-tank missiles in the security zone. The SMM followed up on reports of civilian and military casualties. The SMM continued to observe queues at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. It monitored border areas not controlled by the Government and encountered one restriction. It faced another freedom-of-movement restriction, also in an area not controlled by the Government*.

The SMM noted a similar number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the previous reporting period.[1]

On the evening of 2 August, while in Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west of its position.

Whilst in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard in the late evening of 2 August explosions assessed as 20 artillery impacts (122mm), eight mortar impacts (120mm) and  seven mortar impacts (82mm) 2km south- east its position; and 23 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds (122mm) 3km south of its position.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven explosions assessed as outgoing recoilless-gun fire (SPG-9, 73mm) 0.7-1.5km north of its position and ten explosions assessed as outgoing mortar fire (82mm), 1-10km north of its position.

On 3 August, positioned during the day in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk city) the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions 3-5km west, north-west and west-south-west of its position.

Positioned during the day in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk city) the SMM heard 49 undetermined explosions 4-5km south-east, south-south-east and south of its position.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) throughout the day, the SMM heard five single undetermined explosions 6-12km ranging from north-north-west to south-west of its position.

The SMM noted an increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Luhansk region compared to the day before, with the majority taking place in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) and government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). While in Stanytsia Luhanska in the late evening of 2 August, the SMM heard during a two hour period 48 undetermined explosions 3-5km south and south-south-west of its position; 14 explosions assessed as outgoing 73mm recoilless-gun (SPG-9) fire and 14 impacts of 73mm SPG-9 rounds, 17 rounds of outgoing automatic-grenade-launcher fire (AGS-17) and 17 AGS-17 impacts, and intensive small-arms  and heavy machine gun-fire 3.5-4km south of its position.

On 3 August in the morning while positioned in Trokhizbenka, the SMM heard 81 undetermined explosions 5-6km south of its position. In Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk) throughout the day, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions within a  40 minute period in the morning, 5km south of its position.

The SMM conducted crater analysis and followed up on reports of civilian and military casualties. At the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, approximately four metres south of the Ukrainian Armed Forces position closest to the bridge, the SMM observed a crater containing pieces of shrapnel which it assessed as caused by 82mm mortar rounds fired from an undetermined direction. Near the same location the SMM observed three fresh craters assessed as caused by grenade launcher (AGS-17) rounds fired from an undetermined direction. The SMM observed 25m south of the “LPR” forward position at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, grenade launcher shrapnel lying on the ground. At the “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge the SMM saw grenade launcher shrapnel lying on the ground approximately 15-20 metres north of the checkpoint. No craters were observed in either location.

The SMM observed four fresh craters at a farm in government-controlled Pobeda (27km west of Donetsk). Due to security concerns the SMM could not conduct crater analysis. The SMM saw from a distance that the craters were in soft ground and contained fragments of 125mm shells. The SMM saw that one shell had hit a concrete fence facing a southerly direction, while another shell had hit a pigsty. The director of the farm told the SMM that shelling had occurred on 2 August.

In government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM observed damage to a fence surrounding a house and damage to the roof of the house. The SMM saw shattered windows and shrapnel damage on the house’s wall facing a southerly direction. The SMM did not observe any crater.

In Stanytsia Luhanska medical personnel of the emergency department at the hospital confirmed to the SMM that two wounded Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers had been hospitalized on 2 August. Both soldiers had surgery at the hospital and one of them had been transferred on 3 August to a military hospital.  

At the hospital in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM followed up on the condition of the two civilians (a woman and a man) injured during the shelling in the night of 1-2 August (see SMM Daily Report, 3 August 2016). The medical personnel told the SMM that both patients were in critical condition. According to medical personnel, the female patient was still in the recovery unit, while the other had been transferred to Luhansk hospital for further treatment.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.

An SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted three self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and one tank (T-72) in government-controlled Kirove (44km north-east of Donetsk), in violation of the respective withdrawal lines.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside assigned areas, the SMM observed: 15 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in government-controlled Khlibodarivka (65km south-west of Donetsk); and ten stationary tanks (T-64) at the training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 31 July of the 26 towed artillery pieces and 35 tanks together with other hardware including 96 armoured vehicles, 80 military-style trucks and 14 trailers near “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In a “DPR”-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM saw 16 mortars (PM-38, 120mm), 15 towed howitzers (D30, 122mm), could not account for two towed howitzers (D30, 120mm) and noted five additional such heavy weapons .

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces site, the SMM noted that 40 tanks (T-64), seven anti-tank guns (five D-44, 85mm and two D-48, 85mm) and nine mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) remained missing  (first eight observed missing on 19 April, the last on 29 June 2016).

At a “DPR”-controlled site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines, the SMM observed that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-tank missiles in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw: two infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs, BMP-1) and two armoured personnel carriers, one of which had six anti-tank missiles mounted on its roof near Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk); and at the northern outskirts of Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-2), travelling north and one IFV (BMP-2) travelling towards the bridge.

In addition, an SMM UAV spotted one IFV (BMP) in government-controlled Kirove (44km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM followed up on the incident on 2 August when SMM monitors were stopped at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position on the road from Lopaskyne (government-controlled, 24km north-west of Luhansk) to Lobacheve (government-controlled, 17km north-west of Luhansk (see SMM Spot Report, 3 August 2016). At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces chief-of-staff told the SMM that an investigation was currently on-going and that findings should be soon presented.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. Positioned on both sides of the contact line, the SMM monitored the cleaning of canals that provide water to the Shchastia power plant and repair works to the Mykhailivka-Lysychansk high power line near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to observe queues at entry-exit checkpoints along the contact line. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the H15 highway near Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed in the morning about 500 pedestrians and 145 civilian vehicles waiting to exit government-controlled areas. The SMM observed that the queue moved approximately 30 meters every 10-20 minutes. The SMM saw that three drivers alighted from their cars and walked towards the checkpoint. At this stage there were about 10—15 vehicles in front of them. They returned after 15 minutes and then drove their cars directly to the checkpoint surpassing the cars in front of them. The SMM spoke separately to several passengers and bus drivers who said that they have heard about bribery taking place at the checkpoints, but could not give concrete examples. At the first Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed in the morning approximately 200 pedestrians (mostly elderly people) waiting to proceed towards areas not controlled by the Government. The SMM observed that the elderly people in the queue were suffering from the heat. In the afternoon within 40 minute period the SMM saw 104 pedestrians leaving government-controlled areas and 84 pedestrians entering government-controlled areas.

The SMM monitored two border areas not controlled by the Government and was prevented from doing so by armed “LPR” members in Makariv Yar (formerly Parkhomenko, 28km east of Luhansk).* At the Marynivka border crossing point (78km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 45 civilian cars (the majority with Ukrainian license plates and one with a “Novorossiya” sticker partially covering the plate) and two covered commercial trucks (also Ukrainian license plates) lined-up in a queue waiting to exit Ukraine.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.


Denial of access:

  •  At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Makariv Yar an armed “LPR” member told the SMM to leave the area and checked ID cards of the SMM monitors. The JCCC was informed.

Conditional access:

  • Armed “LPR” members at a checkpoint immediately south of the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north of Luhansk) allowed the SMM to proceed only after taking the names and ID card numbers of SMM monitors. 

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to hold news briefing in Kyiv tomorrow

OSCE - Thu, 04/08/2016 - 11:15

KYIV, 4 August 2016 – The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) will hold its regular news briefing tomorrow in Kyiv.

Alexander Hug, the SMM’s Principal Deputy Chief Monitor, will talk about the recent activities of the Mission and the general security situation throughout Ukraine.

Journalists are invited to attend the news briefing tomorrow, 5 August, at 13:30 (Kyiv time), at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, at 2 Khreshchatyk street, Ukrainian house.

Live online streaming of the news briefing will be available at http://uacrisis.org/ru/stream/#eng

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 2 August 2016

OSCE - Wed, 03/08/2016 - 20:42

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM noted a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the day before. In Luhansk the SMM noted an increase in recorded ceasefire violations on the day before, with many concentrated around “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov). A peaceful protest was held outside the SMM’s base in Kadiivka. Later, at the same location, the SMM heard bursts of small-arms fire in the vicinity of their base and saw an individual running from the area. An armed man at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position threatened the SMM at gunpoint in Lobacheve. The SMM analysed craters on both sides of the contact line. It observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines. “LPR” members prevented the SMM from monitoring in border areas.

The SMM noted a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the day before[1].

On the evening of 1 August, while in government-controlled Mariupol, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions at an unknown distance east and east-north-east of its position. On the same evening, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded fighting in the following sequence: five explosions (impacts) north-east, and fifty bursts of tracer fire from east in an unknown direction; four bursts of tracer fire from south-east to north-west; four undetermined explosions; 12 bursts of tracer fire from east to north and 34 air bursts from south-east to north-west.

While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre in the early morning hours of 2 August, the SMM heard 67 undetermined explosions 5-15km north and north-west of its position.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk city) the SMM heard 21 undetermined explosions 2-5km west and north-west of its position. Later, positioned at the Yasynuvata railway station the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 4-6km north-west.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk city) the SMM heard

16 undetermined explosions and two explosions of automatic grenade launcher fire 3-4km ranging from south-east to south-west.

Positioned in government-controlled Mykolaivka (57km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard 22 mortar impacts (120mm), 30 mortar impacts (82mm) and 50 automatic grenade launcher impacts 5km south-east.

Positioned in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) on the evening of 2 August, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions, 14 airbursts from an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) and multiple bursts of small-arms and heavy machine gun-fire 1-2km north.

The SMM noted an increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Luhansk region compared to the day before, with the majority taking place in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk). While in Kadiivka in the early morning of 2 August, the SMM heard 91 explosions, some of them assessed as impacts and some as outgoing rounds, 32 of which were in areas 5-10km north-north-west and 59 in areas 5-10km west and south-west. For an hour during this period of shelling, the electricity supply to the city was cut.

At 20:34 on 2 August, the SMM, positioned in one forward patrol base in Kadiivka, heard three bursts of small-arms fire 50-100m north of its location. At 20:45, while positioned at another patrol base, the SMM heard 4-5 bursts from an automatic rifle fired in the air 10-15m away, just beyond the perimeter fence. In the darkness the SMM observed a person running from the area. The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and armed “LPR” members controlling the area.

In government-controlled parts of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) while monitoring adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works, the SMM heard a mortar impact (possibly 82mm) and saw smoke rising approximately 1.5km east of its position. A short time later the SMM heard a further two mortar impacts approximately 1km east. Approximately an hour later the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 3-4km north and north-east of its position.

The SMM followed up on recorded ceasefire violations and conducted crater analysis. In “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka, the SMM observed craters at two locations. In Oleha Koshevoho  Street in a residential area in the south of the town the SMM analysed a fresh crater and assessed that it was caused by artillery (calibre unknown) fired from a westerly direction. A woman told the SMM that children had taken remnants of a shell from the crater. The SMM observed damage to adjacent houses, including shattered windows and shrapnel-damaged walls. Two residents (a 60 year-old man and a 70 year-old woman) said that the shelling, which had begun at about 01:30, had critically wounded a 50 year-old man who was taken to hospital.

At a second impact area in a residential area in the north of Kadiivka the SMM observed shell damage and analysed craters. The SMM observed a crater in the yard of a house, which it assessed to have been caused by artillery or rocket fired from a north-westerly direction. The SMM observed damage to the exterior walls of the house, broken windows and saw that the interior ceiling was damaged by shelling. A second crater was analysed in this area, and was assessed to have been caused by artillery or rocket fired from a westerly direction. A tree had sustained a direct hit from a shell. According to Russian Federation officers at the JCCC who were present, armed men had visited these impact sites and removed pieces of shrapnel. Nevertheless, the SMM observed pieces of shrapnel at these sites that indicated the use of artillery or rockets. Residents told the SMM that two women (70 and 79 years-old) were injured in the shelling and that both were hospitalized in Kadiivka, with one of them subsequently moved to Luhansk for further treatment.

On 1 August, near the government-controlled Maiorsk checkpoint (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw damage to checkpoint barriers and nearby trees. The SMM analysed a fresh crater and assessed it to have been caused by multiple-launch rocket systems (122mm, Grad) fired from a south-south-westerly direction. A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier at the checkpoint nearby told the SMM that heavy shelling had taken place on the night of 31 July.

An armed man at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position stopped two SMM vehicles in government-controlled areas travelling east on the road from Lopaskyne (government-controlled, 24km north-west of Luhansk) to Lobacheve (government-controlled, 17km north-west of Luhansk). The armed man, wearing military-style clothing with no marking, threatened at gunpoint one of the SMM monitors and said in Russian, “Stop. You are not going anywhere”. Later, four armed men arrived, some in military-style clothing and appearing to be intoxicated, carrying assault rifles (AK-74).  After 15 minutes the SMM was allowed to leave the area and proceed to Lobacheve (See SMM Spot Report, 3 August 2016).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12, Rapira 100mm) in “DPR”-controlled Zelene (28km east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw 18 towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm). In another government-controlled area the SMM saw 17 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) but could not account for one. When the SMM asked a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier why one anti-tank gun had black soot on its muzzle break he said it was because it had recently been used in training exercises. One government-controlled area continued to be abandoned, as it has been since 19 December 2015, with all 12 mortars (2S12 Sani, 120mm) missing. The SMM observed that one area continued to be abandoned, as it has been for since 12 July 2015, with all six self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) missing.

The SMM revisited permanent storage sites, whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At one site in “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed that two tanks (T-64) were missing for the first time and other weapons had been added. Tank ammunition was seen stored next to tanks.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone: two armoured personnel carriers (BTR-60) and two armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM) near government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). In “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka, the SMM observed an armoured tracked vehicle (MT-LB) travelling west in the direction of the contact line in a convoy of 20 military-type vehicles, one of which the SMM observed to be carrying approximately 125 anti-tank mines.

The SMM observed new mine hazard signs. Between Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two new mine hazard signs on the sides of the road in the area of the proposed disengagement area.

The SMM requested that “DPR” members and officers at the JCCC follow-up the incident on 29 July when SMM monitors were threatened at gunpoint by aggressive armed “DPR” members near Lukove (72km south of Donetsk) (See SMM Spot Report, 30 July). In Lukove, the SMM met with “DPR” members, including from the “ministry of defence”. A “DPR” member who had threatened the SMM, apologised. “DPR” members told the SMM that an investigation is planned. The SMM await the response of “DPR” members to the violation.

During the afternoon of 2 August a group approximately 30 protestors (mainly young people) gathered in front of the SMM base in Kadiivka, some carrying signs with slogans such as, “OSCE is blind”. Local “police” was present. The protestors dispersed peacefully after an hour. At the same time in another part of Kadiivka, a stone was thrown at an SMM vehicle, causing no damage.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. Positioned on both sides of the contact line, the SMM monitored the cleaning of canals that provide water to the Shchastia power plant and repair works to the Mykhailivka-Lysychansk high power line near Zolote. Following explosions in the area of Zolote the SMM left the area due to security concerns.

The SMM attempted to monitor border areas not controlled by the Government but was prevented from doing so by armed “LPR” members who stopped the SMM near Diakove (70km south-west of Luhansk).*

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • Armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from travelling through a checkpoint towards the west of Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). The JCCC was informed.
  • A Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the JCCC office in Yasynuvata denied the SMM access to the roof of the building to conduct ceasefire monitoring, citing security concerns. He refused to share his ceasefire violation log with the SMM.
  • On 1 August, water company officials refused to meet the SMM in “LPR”-controlled Sorokyne (formerly Krasnodon, 43km south-east of Luhansk), claiming that the SMM needed permission from the “municipality” to hold such a meeting.
  • On 1 August, in Sorokyne, the “director” of the cultural centre and the “deputy head” of the “culture department” in the town asked for the SMM’s patrol plan and to produce some sort of “registration” from “LPR” members in order to have a meeting. The SMM refused and left.
  • Two armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM near Diakove and asked for a signed and stamped patrol plan in the Russian language. The SMM informed the JCCC. After 40 minutes of waiting the SMM left, and were unable to travel to their planned destination, “LPR”-controlled Leonove (formerly Chervonyi Zhovten, 82km south of Luhansk). The JCCC was informed.

Conditional access:

  • Armed “DPR” members allowed the SMM to proceed through a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve after checking the trunk of SMM vehicles.
  • An armed “LPR” member at a checkpoint immediately south of the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north of Luhansk) allowed the SMM to proceed only after taking the names of SMM monitors.

[1]Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 2 August 2016

OSCE - Wed, 03/08/2016 - 17:11

This report is for the media and the general public.

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall cross-border traffic decreased at both BCPs.

OPERATIONAL REMARKS

The OM is currently operating with 19 permanent international staff members, including the Chief Observer (CO). The Mission is supported administratively by a Vienna-based staff member.

OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS

Persons crossing the border

The profile of the people crossing the border can be categorized as follows:

  1. Adults travelling on foot or by car with little or no luggage;
  2. Persons in military-style outfits;
  3. Families (often including elderly people and/or children) travelling on foot or by car with a significant amount of luggage.

The average number of entries/exits decreased overall from 12,017 to 11,778[1] per day for both BCPs compared to last week. The average net flow for both BCPs went from plus 16 (i.e. more entries to the Russian Federation) to minus 95 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation).

The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for just 35 per cent of all entries/exits in Rostov region.

Persons in military-style outfits

During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style outfits crossing the border in both directions increased from 80 last week to 85 this week at both BCPs; 49 of them crossed into the Russian Federation, while 36 of them crossed into Ukraine. Approximately 72 per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. Men and women continued to cross the border individually or in groups. Most individuals crossed by foot, however, some made use of private vehicles, buses or minivans, making it more difficult for the observer teams (OTs) to observe their movement across the border, especially since many of the private vehicles have tinted windows, and buses and minivans have drawn curtains.

Families with a significant amount of luggage

During the reporting period, the OTs observed families, often with elderly people and/or children, crossing at both BCPs with a significant amount of luggage or travelling in heavily loaded cars. Seven families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation while four were observed crossing into Ukraine.

Bus connections

Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (Luhansk region) and cities in the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the OTs continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the buses do not state their route; instead they just have a sign on the windshield stating “Irregular”.

Among the bus connections observed by the OTs, the following “irregular” routes or destinations were noted: Luhansk-Sevastopol; Rovenki-Kyiv; Luhansk-Kyiv; Stakhanov-Gelendzhik; Kharkiv; and Sevastopol.

On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses. The majority of long-distance coaches commuting between Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation have licence plates issued in Luhansk region.

Trucks

The OM continued to observe trucks crossing the border in both directions and at both BCPs. Compared to the previous week, the number of trucks increased from 679 to 710; 391 of these trucks crossed to the Russian Federation and 319 crossed to Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs were registered in Luhansk region.

Separately, the OTs also observed tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. The number of tanker trucks decreased from 56 last week to 48 this week. These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks mainly had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks have hazard signs, indicating that they are transporting propane or a mix of propane with butane.

All trucks undergo systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which may include an X-ray check. No X-ray checks could be observed at the Gukovo BCP since the OT has no view of the mobile X-ray unit, but it could be heard operating several times during the reporting period. One hundred and two X-ray checks were observed at the Donetsk BCP. Out of the 102 trucks scanned during the reporting period, 68 trucks (67 per cent) were bound for Ukraine; the remaining 34 trucks (33 per cent) crossed into the Russian Federation.

Minivans

The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions and at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly registered in Luhansk region; however, the OTs frequently saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation.

Compared to the previous week, the number of cargo minivans increased from 247 to 319; 138 crossed to the Russian Federation and 181 to Ukraine.

Trains

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains running on the train tracks located approximately 150 metres south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 21 occasions; the OTs estimated that fourteen trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and seven trains were bound for Ukraine. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was informed about the trains bound for Ukraine. Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP and unfavourable light conditions.

Other observations

The majority of vehicles crossing the border have licence plates issued in Luhansk region or in the Russian Federation. On two separate occasions the OT also noticed cars with Hungarian and Belarusian plates.

The OTs continued to observe vehicles with Ukrainian licence plates, including articulated trucks with “LPR” or “Novorossiya” stickers, or in rare cases “DPR” stickers on their licence plates masking the Ukrainian flag.

During the reporting period the OTs observed ambulances on three occasions. The OTs on the spot could not confirm if there were persons requiring medical treatment on board.

On 28 July at 14:20 hrs the OT at Donetsk BCP noticed that the BCP was closed (fence doors were locked) and the lines were cleared from pedestrians and all the visible barriers were lowered. OT observed border guards walking up and down talking on the radios. At the same time one SUV (Ford), with Russian Federation registration plates with two persons in military style outfit inside, underwent an X-ray check. The SUV was entering the Russian Federation from Ukraine. After the X-ray check the Russian Federation customs officers performed a detailed check of the luggage inside the vehicle. At 14:50 hrs the BCP was opened again. Around 16:00 hrs the SUV left the BCP.

On 30 July at 16:00 hrs at the Donetsk BCP one minivan for funeral services crossed the border from the Russian Federation to Ukraine. The OT could not confirm if it had cargo or passengers.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the reporting period from 19 July to 26 July 2016 see the attachment here.

 

[1] Data received from Rostov region Border Guard Service.

[2] Cargo minivans: light commercial vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 t and not more than 7.5 t; with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kg (small cargo vehicles which correspond to driving license C1).                             

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Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: SMM threatened at gunpoint near Lobacheve in Luhansk region

OSCE - Wed, 03/08/2016 - 10:14

This report is for media and the general public.

At 10:10 on 2 August, an armed man at a known Ukrainian Armed Forces position wearing military-style clothing with no markings stopped two SMM vehicles in government-controlled areas travelling east on the road from Lopaskyne (government-controlled, 24km north-west of Luhansk) to Lobacheve (government-controlled, 17km north-west of Luhansk).  When one of the SMM monitors stepped out of the vehicle to speak with the man, the latter chambered a round into his submachine gun (AKSU-74) and after removing the weapon’s safety, pointed it at the SMM monitor and put his finger on the trigger. Speaking in Russian, the armed man told the SMM “Stop. You are not going anywhere”.

The SMM requested the armed man call his commander, which he did. Standing approximately two metres away, the man kept his gun pointed at the SMM monitor and spoke to someone in Russian on his handheld radio. Approximately five to seven minutes later, another man arrived at the scene carrying an assault rifle (AK-74) with a silencer. He was accompanied by three other armed men carrying assault rifles, some of whom appeared to be intoxicated, and appeared to be in a position of authority. Some of the men were dressed in military-style clothing. Using Russian and speaking in an aggressive manner, the man said that he and the other armed men present were members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The SMM monitor asked the man who appeared to be in charge to order the armed man to lower his weapon. He did so but the weapon was not made safe.

Speaking with the commander of the group, the SMM monitor tried to diffuse the situation by explaining the Mission’s mandate and after approximately fifteen minutes, the SMM was allowed to leave the area and proceed to Lobacheve to complete their tasks.

The SMM returned safely to its base at 16:00. The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination was informed.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 1 August 2016

OSCE - Tue, 02/08/2016 - 18:13

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region on 1 August compared to both 30 and 31 July, particularly with regard to explosions. In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations than on 30 and 31 July combined. The SMM followed up on reports of casualties and analysed craters on both sides of the contact line. The Mission noted mines and mine hazard signs. The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM facilitated repairs to essential infrastructure on both sides of the contact line in Shchastia, Krasnyi Lyman and Zolote. The SMM monitored two border areas not controlled by the Government and its access was restricted at one*.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to both 30 and 31 July with no violations recorded during the night by the SMM forward patrol base in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk)[1].

While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, in the night hours of 31 July, the SMM heard 79 undetermined explosions, at a range of 3 to 15km north and north-west of its location.

In the area of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north of Donetsk), in the evening hours of 31 July the SMM recorded 24 undetermined explosions, at a range of 2 to 7km north-north west of its location within a 70 minute period. Earlier in the evening, positioned 7km north of Horlivka, the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of automatic-grenade-launcher rounds 0.5-0.8km north of its position.

In the evening hours of 31 July, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions north-east of its location in Mariupol city (government-controlled, 102km south of Donetsk). On the same night the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) between 20:36 and 22:59, facing north-east and north, recorded 21 undetermined explosions, seven rocket-assisted projectiles, and 21 bursts of direct heavy-machine gun tracer fire all from west to east. Later, the camera recorded one burst of direct tracer fire from east to west as well as one unidentified indirect ballistic projectile fired from east to north-west, and two impacts of an unknown projectile at an undetermined distance.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) during the entire day on 1 August, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions at an unknown distance south-south-east of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations on 1 August compared to 30 and 31 July combined.

Whilst in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on the night of 31 July, in an hour around midnight, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions as well as small-arms and machine-gun fire 3-5km south-south-west of its location. In the same time period, the SMM also heard three explosions assessed as outgoing, one of which it assessed as a cannon round (23mm or 30mm), as well as machine-gun bursts and small-arms shots 3.5km south-west of its location. Additionally, the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions and machine-gun bursts 10 - 14km south-east of its location.

Within 10 minutes in the morning, while positioned at the northern outskirts of government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard three explosions assessed as impacts of an unknown projectile 10-15km north-west of its position.

The SMM followed-up on reports of casualties and conducted crater analysis on both sides of the contact line. In government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM spoke to a doctor on duty at the hospital who said that one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier had received minor injuries caused by an explosive device and had been brought to the clinic on the night of 31 July. The physician added that he had not been seriously injured and had already been transferred to another hospital. In government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM talked to a man (50 years old) who had been injured in the village as a result of a booby-trap explosion. According to him, he and another man who had also been injured were planning to transport some watermelons to their relatives on the other side of the Siverskyi Donets river and accidentally moved a boat on the river bank, which turned out to be booby-trapped. The SMM saw the man had injuries to his head, torso and legs.

The SMM observed the aftermath of shelling in a residential area, a 250m-by-250m block at the northern outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and armed “DPR” members. According to residents, the shelling occurred around 22:00 on 31 July. The SMM saw a large volume of blood at a second-floor apartment, which was destroyed by an impact and a man had reportedly been killed. In the same area, the SMM analysed two fresh craters 50m-apart it assessed as caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from a west-north-westerly direction. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to surrounding buildings, cars and trees at a 50m radius and a first floor apartment in the same building destroyed, the roof had been penetrated and a balcony had been destroyed. The SMM also saw overhead cables had been damaged, while gas pipes were being repaired by local services. At the Yasynuvata central hospital, the SMM confirmed the death of a man (51 years old) from the second-floor apartment on the night of 31 July and saw that he had received multiple penetrating injuries to his head, chest and stomach. The SMM did not observe armed presence in the area.

The SMM, accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the JCCC and armed “DPR” members, observed three impact sites in close proximity (100m-by-100m area) in Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk city. No casualties were reported. According to residents, shelling had started about 22:00 on 31 July and continued through the night of 1 August. The SMM analysed one fresh crater, which it assessed as caused by a 122mm or larger calibre artillery round fired from a west-north-westerly direction. Shrapnel had lacerated and penetrated a metal fence and residential building walls in the vicinity. The SMM also observed damage assessed as resulting from a 122mm artillery round striking the roof of a detached house and exploding. The roof had partially collapsed and surrounding walls and foliage were shrapnel lacerated. Finally, the SMM observed the completely destroyed and still burning wing of a residential building which it assessed as having been struck by a 152mm artillery round (direction of fire could not be determined). One of the owners of the house claimed that, as a result of the blast wave, he had become partially deaf in his left ear. The SMM did not observe armed presence in the area.

Near a Ukrainian Armed Forces position south-east of government-controlled Orikhove (56km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM followed up on reports of shelling in the area during the previous night. The SMM analysed two fresh craters 200-300m from the position and assessed them as caused by 82mm mortar rounds, fired from an easterly direction. No casualties or material damage were reported. At the northern bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, in the area of the “LPR” forward position, some 10-20 meters away from the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM saw four fresh craters 20-30 centimetres in diameter on the side of the road. An armed “LPR” member present said that the shelling had occurred in the night hours of 31 July and nobody had been injured.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM saw in government-controlled areas: two infantry fighting vehicles (one BMP-2, one BMP-1-Ksh) in Nyzhnie (56km north-west of Luhansk); an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (ARV; BRDM-2) in Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk); one stationary ARV (BRDM-2) near Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk); three stationary armoured personnel carriers (BTR) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed the presence of mines. In areas controlled by the “DPR” the SMM saw, 2km south of “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk), one mine attached to a tree, approximately 2-2.5m above the ground. Previously, the SMM had observed three mines in the same area (see SMM Daily Report 16 March 2016). In government-controlled areas, at the western outskirts of Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw a Ukrainian State Emergency Services team visually inspecting for mines an area on the side of the road.

The SMM observed new mine hazard signs. In government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk), in the area of the local cemetery the SMM saw a new improvised mine hazard sign (a white plastic board reading “Welcome on” in English and underneath it “Mines” in Russian and a white plastic board with red letters reading “Mines” in Russian). The SMM spoke to two different groups of residents (men and women, about 60 years old) who said that there had been a fire in the cemetery, which they had extinguished, but were afterward warned for the first time by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel not to enter the cemetery because the area was mined.  The SMM also observed a new mine hazard sign (dark green metal board reading “Mines” in red Cyrillic letters) on the northern side of the road approximately 1km east of “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure on both sides of the contact line. The SMM monitored the cleaning of a water pump zone at the Shchastia power plant; repairs to the water pipes in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) as well as repair works on electrical power lines in Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored two border areas not controlled by the Government, and was restricted in its freedom of movement at one of them.* At the “LPR”-controlled Novoborovytsi pedestrian border crossing point (79km south of Luhansk), the SMM, within 30 minutes, saw no people crossing the border in either direction and again observed no armed “LPR”-members present (see SMM Daily Report 24 July 2016). At the “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi border crossing point, the SMM noted a significant increase in traffic flow. The SMM saw two parked covered cargo trucks, both with Ukrainian plates. The SMM also observed six full passenger buses, all with Ukrainian plates (bearing signs reading: ‘Luhansk – Moscow’, ‘Moscow – Horlivka’, ‘Alchevsk – Yalta’, ‘Luhansk – Krasnodar’ and ‘Luhansk – Rostov’) queuing to enter the Russian Federation. The SMM saw 37 civilian cars (26 with Ukrainian licence plates and 11 with Russian Federation plates). Ten cars with Ukrainian plates were parked by the side of the road. Within 40 minutes the SMM saw five cars cross into the Russian Federation, but no buses or trucks. An armed “LPR” member then told the SMM to leave.*

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • An armed man at the “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi border crossing point (85km south-east of Luhansk) asked the SMM to show its patrol plan. The SMM did not comply and the armed man told it to leave the area. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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OSCE/ODIHR opens observation mission for parliamentary elections in Belarus

OSCE - Tue, 02/08/2016 - 13:39

MINSK, 2 August 2016 – The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today formally opened an election observation mission for the 11 September parliamentary elections in Belarus. The mission’s deployment follows an official invitation from the Belarus authorities.

The mission is led by Tana de Zulueta and consists of a core team of 10 experts based in Minsk and 38 long-term observers to be deployed in teams of two across the country. In addition, ODIHR will request 400 short-term observers to monitor proceedings on election day. The experts and observers are drawn from 24 countries.

The mission will assess the parliamentary elections for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards and obligations for democratic elections, as well as with domestic legislation. Observers will follow the candidate registration process, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legal framework and the resolution of election disputes. As part of the observation, the mission will also monitor the media coverage of the campaign.

In the course of its observation, the mission will meet with representatives of relevant authorities and of political parties, as well as with representatives of civil society, the media and the international community.

On election day, observers will monitor the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results. For election day, the mission plans to join efforts with delegations from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

A statement of preliminary findings and conclusions will be issued on the day after the election. A final report on the observation of the entire election process and including recommendations will be published approximately two months after the completion of the election process.

For further information please visit http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/belarus  or contact Ulvi Akhundlu, OSCE/ODIHR Election Adviser, at +375 29 876 3772 (mobile) 

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ODIHR Director Link and IHRA Chair Constantinescu, on day to commemorate genocide against Roma and Sinti, say greater efforts needed to protect endangered memorial sites and ensure dignity of victims

OSCE - Tue, 02/08/2016 - 10:28

WARSAW / BUCHAREST, 2 August 2016 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), called today for greater efforts to protect endangered memorial sites related to the Roma and Sinti genocide during World War II.

Speaking on the occasion of the commemoration of the liquidation of the “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, when the close to 3,000 remaining Roma and Sinti in the camp were murdered, they stressed that states have to do more to demonstrate their sincere and strong commitment to education about and remembrance of the genocide.

“Positively, we have seen increasing attention in recent years on the part of OSCE participating States to commemorate the Roma and Sinti genocide, and to educate people about this horrible event. This practice and these experiences should be widely shared and replicated,” Director Link said. “Promoting understanding of the Holocaust and its effect on different communities can help to create empathy and promote equality and non-discrimination for all.”

“Accurate and ethical education about the Holocaust includes the respectful and dignified preservation of memorial sites,” said Ambassador Constantinescu. “States have to take resolute action to protect endangered memorial sites and continue to do more to commemorate the Roma and Sinti victims. The history of these endangered sites should be included as part of broader efforts to educate about the consequences of indifference to racism.”

They called on governments to ensure that endangered memorial sites for Roma and Sinti victims are preserved and protected, to include this history as an integral part of civic and human rights education in their countries. They stressed that current developments, including a disturbing rise in xenophobic public rhetoric and racism, mean it is even more essential to build strong alliances among different communities.

In 2003, with the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, the OSCE participating States committed themselves to strengthen education about the Roma and Sinti genocide. Through its Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues, ODIHR promotes knowledge about and recognition of the plight of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust to counter present-day discrimination and racism, and to promote tolerance. According to ODIHR’s recent publication Teaching about and Commemorating the Roma and Sinti Genocide: Practices within the OSCE Area, seven OSCE participating States officially commemorate the Roma and Sinti genocide on 2 August, while a larger number of states commemorate the Roma and Sinti victims on the International Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an inter-governmental organization and the foremost international network of political leaders and professionals advancing and shaping Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Its 31 member countries are committed to the tenets of the Stockholm Declaration. The IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma aims to increase the commitment of IHRA Member Countries to educate, research and commemorate the genocide of the Roma.

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OSCE concludes series of training seminars on implementing the National Preventive Mechanism in Kazakhstan

OSCE - Tue, 02/08/2016 - 08:44
257391 Colin McCullough, OSCE Programme Office in Astana

The OSCE Programme Office in Astana concluded a series of two-day training seminars for some 100 members of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) against Torture on 2 August 2016 in Aktobe, Western Kazakhstan.

From May to August 2016, participants were trained in Pavlodar, Almaty, Astana and Aktobe on practical aspects of the NPM’s implementation.

The training seminars aimed at increasing the transparency and effectiveness of the Mechanism in monitoring, reporting and conducting preventive visits at detention facilities. National experts discussed with the NPM members the working procedures and methodology, challenges in fulfilling human rights obligations and ethical aspects in line with national and international anti-torture standards. Special emphasis was placed on the necessary co-operation between NPM and the law-enforcement sector.

The set of seminars was organized in partnership with the Ombudsman’s Office of Kazakhstan and the Regional Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and is part of the Office’s long-standing commitment to reinforce the NPM and promote the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 31 July 2016

OSCE - Mon, 01/08/2016 - 18:13

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded a significant increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region on 30 July compared to 29 July. A decrease in the number of recorded violations was noted on 31 July, though this figure was still higher than that recorded on 29 July. The SMM recorded a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations observed in Luhansk on 30 July compared to the day before. No violations were recorded on 31 July. Two SMM unmanned aerial vehicles came under small-arms fire on 30 July. The SMM analysed craters on both sides of the contact line. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone. The SMM monitored border areas not controlled by the Government on five occasions, and faced conditional access on two occasions. It faced freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority of which were in areas not under government control.

The SMM recorded an increased number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to 29 July[1]. Fewer ceasefire violations were recorded on 31 July compared to the day before but the number of recorded ceasefire violations remained high.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) throughout the night of 29 July, the SMM recorded at least 50 undetermined explosions approximately 10km north.

On the evening of 29 July, while in government-controlled Sartana (15km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard nine explosions 1-2km east-south-east and three undetermined explosions (one assessed as from a mortar) 2-3km south-south-east and east-north-east of its position.

On 30 July positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) throughout the day, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and uncountable, overlapping bursts of heavy machine gun-fire 1-7km west and north-west of its position over a 40-minute period. Later, in the afternoon, the SMM recorded a salvo of approximately 20 outgoing Grad rockets, 51 undetermined explosions, approximately 40 mortar impacts; uncountable, overlapping heavy-machine gun and small-arms bursts in areas 2-6km west-south-west, west-north-west, west, and north-west of its position over approximately two and a half hours.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) throughout the day on 30 July, the SMM heard, over a two and a half-hour period, four undetermined explosions, two mortar impacts (one 120mm and one 82mm) and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-5km south and south-east of its position. Two outgoing explosions caused by 122mm artillery were also heard 3-4km south-east of the SMM’s position in Avdiivka.

While at Maiorsk checkpoint (45km north-east of Donetsk) on 30 July, the SMM saw and heard four airbursts assessed as recoilless-gun (SPG-9) fire, heard 10 outgoing explosions of armoured personnel carrier (BMP-1, 73mm) cannon fire and bursts of heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire all 2-3km east and east-south-east of its position.

On 30 July, positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard two 82mm mortar impacts 3-4km north-west. The SMM also saw one 120mm mortar airburst, heard five undetermined explosions, 14 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher (AGL) fire and bursts of small-arms fire, all 1–3km north-west, north-north-west and north of its position. A short time later the SMM heard 39 undetermined explosions, 20 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire and heavy machine gun-fire, all 7–10km west and north-east of its position.

Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) on the morning of 30 July, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 4-8km north, north-west and north-north-east of its position. In the afternoon the SMM heard 171 undetermined explosions and bursts of heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-5km north-north-east of its position.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on the night of 30-31 July, the SMM heard 138 explosions (47 assessed as outgoing artillery explosions, 91 undetermined) all 5-15km west, west-north-west, north-west, north and north-north-east of its position.

On the same night the SMM camera in Shyrokyne recorded multiple bursts of tracer fire in areas to the north-east. At 21:10 the camera recorded 25-27 tracer rounds fired from south-south-west to north-north-east; two undetermined explosions; 23-25 tracer rounds fired from south-west to north-east, and 17-19 tracer rounds fired from north-west to north-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata throughout the day of 31 July the SMM heard 241 undetermined explosions, many bursts of heavy machine gun-fire and small-arms fire, all 1-6km west-south-west and west.

Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka on 31 July the SMM heard five undetermined explosions south-south-east.

While conducting monitoring with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on 30 July, the SMM heard two shots of small-arms fire immediately followed by two bursts of small-arms fire 300-400m north-east of the SMM’s position.* The SMM assessed the fire as likely directed at its UAV, which was immediately landed. No damage was observed.

Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station throughout the day of 31 July the SMM heard 44 undetermined explosions and uncountable bursts of small-arms fire all 1-8km south-south-west, north, north-north-east and north-east of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations on 30 July compared to 29 July. The SMM recorded no ceasefire violations in Luhansk region on 31 July.

Positioned in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on the night of 30 July, the SMM heard a total of 15 outgoing rounds followed by 15 impacts assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-17) fire. The rounds were fired from 3.5-4km south (from the direction of the disused railway bridge and/or pedestrian bridge) and impacted 4-5.7km south of the SMM’s position.

While flying a UAV over government-controlled Lobacheve (17km north-west of Luhansk) on 30 July the SMM heard small-arms fire and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire approximately 600-700 metres north-east of its position, in the area of the UAV. The SMM landed the UAV, which had not sustained damage. The SMM phoned a Ukrainian officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) who said that Ukrainian Armed Forces had fired at the UAV.

On 29 July the SMM conducted crater analysis in Donetsk city’s Kuibyshevskyi district in the presence of the Russian Federation Armed Forces officers from the JCCC. Five metres in front of a house the SMM saw one large crater that had been filled in with debris, making analysis impossible. The SMM saw shrapnel damage to nearby fences and a gas pipeline, which was undergoing repair. Residents reported that a shell had hit at 1:20 on 29 July and that no one had been injured. A second crater was in the garden within two metres of a house. The SMM saw that the walls surrounding the crater had been penetrated with shrapnel and that the south-west facing wall near the crater was demolished. Based on size, and the presence of shrapnel, the SMM assessed the crater as caused by an artillery round of at least 122mm; the direction of fire could not be assessed. According to residents, the impact occurred at approximately 2:00 on 29 July and no one was injured.

The SMM, accompanied by Russian Federation officers from the JCCC, observed two fresh craters in a residential street in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km north-west of Donetsk). Based on analysis and a tail fin found at the site, the SMM assessed the craters as caused by 120mm mortars fired from a north-north-westerly direction. The SMM observed shrapnel damage to walls and shattered windows. Residents said that shells had struck at 1:30 on 29 July and that no one was injured.

The SMM observed two houses damaged by shelling in Avdiivka that an accompanying Ukrainian Armed Forces JCCC representative said had taken place on 30 July. A fresh crater was seen a few meters from a house. The walls, roofs and windows of two nearby houses were badly damaged by shrapnel. An electricity pole had been snapped in half and had fallen into a yard of one of the houses. No injuries were reported. The residents of the house - a couple aged in their 70s - said that this was the second time their house had been shelled since May. They added that shelling starts every day at 17:00 and lasts until 5:00.

The SMM, following up on JCCC reports of shelling in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) observed four fresh craters and damage to houses in a residential area. One crater was situated in the middle of the street and another in the garden of a house, with shrapnel damage evident to the wall and fence of two houses. One house had broken windows. Two shells had landed away from houses, causing little damage. The SMM were told of another shell that had landed in tall grass which the SMM could not observe because of security concerns. Based on analysis of four craters the SMM assessed that they were caused by 82mm mortars fired from an easterly direction. Residents told the SMM that the shelling happened on 29 July and that no one was injured.

On 31 July in the Zhovanka neighbourhood of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed a wounded man being taken by ambulance to Horlivka general hospital. According to ambulance personnel, he had been struck by shrapnel from an automatic grenade launcher while in his garden.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Minsk Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines an SMM UAV observed two tanks and other military-type vehicles in a compound near the railway station in the centre of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 26 July of a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) in the south-western suburbs of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and observed that three continued to be abandoned as of 11 February, 14 and 17 March 2016 respectively, with 27 tanks (16 T-72, 11 T-64) and 19 mortars (13 2B9 Vasilek, 82mm, and six 2B11 Sani, 120mm) missing. Thirty tanks (T-64), missing from one site as of 19 March 2016, continued to be absent. Additional weapons were observed at this site.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage does not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification. In a government-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and nine MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm). Six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) first observed missing on 1 May 2016 continued to be absent from one area. Another area was abandoned as it had been since 1 May 2016 with all six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) missing. Two MLRS (BM 21 Grad, 122mm) continued to be missing from one site, as first reported on 5 April 2015. One site continued to be observed as abandoned as of 22 April 2016, with all previously recorded 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) missing. The SMM was unable to visit one site as a newly constructed earth barrier blocked the road.*

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside assigned areas the SMM saw three tanks (T-64s) in a known training area near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 26 July of: 34 tanks, 20 artillery pieces (two self-propelled, 18 towed) in areas near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).

Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 28 July of a jamming communication station, assessed as an R-330ZH Zhytel system, hidden among trees in “DPR”-controlled Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. The SMM saw an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk); three infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs, BMP-2) near government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk); two IFVs (one BMP-2, one BMP-1-Ksh) in government-controlled Svitlychne (48km north-west of Luhansk); one stationary armoured personnel carrier (BTR-60) near government-controlled Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk); two BMP-2 parked between houses near government-controlled Stanytsia-Luhanska and one stationary BMP-2 near government-controlled Bolotene (21km east of Luhansk). An SMM UAV observed at least eight BMP, three armoured tracked vehicles (MT-LB), one MT-LB engineering variant and one BTR in a compound close to the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve.

In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), the SMM saw a parade of five military-style and 12 civilian vehicles, all of which carried Ukrainian flags while the lead vehicle also carried a red and black flag. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC told the SMM the parade marked the anniversary of the “liberation of Krasnohorivka from the “DPR””.

The SMM monitored four border areas not controlled by the Government, visiting one area twice. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk) for a total of 30 minutes on 29 July, the SMM observed 36 vehicles and three buses with Ukrainian number plates, a covered commercial truck with Belarus plates and five vehicles with Russian plates waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. Two covered trucks and a bus, all with Ukrainian number plates, entered Ukraine. The SMM returned to the border crossing point on 31 July and had their names, ID numbers taken by an “LPR” member.* Over 50 minutes of monitoring the SMM saw 52 cars, six with Russian Federation number plates, 46 with Ukrainian plates and four covered commercial trucks with Ukrainian plates waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. Four cars were observed entering Ukraine in this period. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed the following over a 25-minute period: three covered trucks and 28 cars with Ukrainian number plates, one minibus with Russian plates (travelling from Luhansk to Rostov) and one minibus (travelling from Rovenky to Rostov); two buses with Ukrainian plates leaving Ukraine; and eight cars with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation plates entering Ukraine. At the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) an “LPR” member took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors and the plate numbers of vehicles. Over a total of 20 minutes of observation, the SMM saw 29 vehicles (all had Ukrainian plates bar one with a Russian plate) and five motorbikes, all with Ukrainian plates, crossing into the Russian Federation. Four pedestrians were seen entering the Russian Federation while one entered Ukraine. At the border crossing point near “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), the SMM saw two trucks and six cars waiting to cross east into the Russian Federation during ten minutes of monitoring.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • On 29 July, armed “LPR” members at the “LPR” forward position on the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge denied the SMM passage from government-controlled to “LPR”-controlled areas. The JCCC was informed.
  • On 29 July, an armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at the “LPR” checkpoint south of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge and took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors. The SMM was allowed to proceed. Passing the “LPR” forward position on the bridge, an armed “LPR” member told the SMM that they could not travel from government-controlled areas towards “LPR”-controlled areas .
  • On 31 July armed “LPR” members at the same position on Stanytsia Luhanska bridge denied the SMM further passage from government-controlled to “LPR”-controlled areas. The JCCC was informed.
  • On 31 July armed “DPR” members - citing security concerns - turned the SMM away from a checkpoint close to Horlivka after a detonation was heard in the area.
  • On 31 July a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier stopped the SMM near government-controlled Mykolaivka (57km north of Donetsk) and prevented the SMM from proceeding to Svitlodarsk. The JCCC was informed.
  • On 31 July Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers prevented the SMM from monitoring the area along the railway line near Lomonosova Street in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), citing demining work in the area.
  • On 31 July a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that he would shoot down an SMM UAV if it was launched near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). He claimed not to have received the information the SMM had passed to the JCCC regarding the flight. The JCCC was informed.
  • On 31 July the SMM was unable to visit a Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons storage site as a newly constructed earth barrier blocked the road.

Delayed access:

  • On 30 July an armed “DPR” member at a weapons storage site told the SMM to retreat ten steps while he sought approval for the SMM’s access. While saying this, he loaded his rifle and refused SMM requests to use their mobile phones, return to their vehicles, or to return later. After 15 minutes, another “DPR” member arrived and confirmed the SMM’s access.

Conditional access:

  • On 30 July at a checkpoint near Horlivka, armed “DPR” members searched two SMM vehicles.
  • On 30 July an armed “LPR” member at the border crossing point near Sievernyi took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors.
  • On 31 July an armed “LPR” member at the border crossing point near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne took the names and ID numbers of SMM monitors.

Other restrictions:

  • On 30 July, an SMM UAV was targeted with small-arms fire over government-controlled Lobacheve.
  • On 30 July, an SMM UAV was targeted with small-arms fire over “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve.

[1 Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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OSCE media freedom representative urges protection for journalists reporting on civil unrest in Armenia

OSCE - Mon, 01/08/2016 - 16:20

VIENNA, 1 August 2016 – At the end of the siege of police headquarters in Yerevan, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today sought reassurance from the foreign minister of Armenia that journalists’ rights and safety during times of civil unrest would be protected.

Mijatović wrote to Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian indicating that the Government “should implement practical steps to ensure restraint on the part of law enforcement representatives toward members of the media and suggested steps should be taken by the authorities to guarantee that the press is not targeted by the police or thugs. The police should be protecting journalists and members of the media.”

According to reports, on 29 July media reporting on the forced dispersal of demonstrators in the Sari Tagh district and other events were attacked, beaten and had their equipment destroyed. In some cases the attackers were uniformed police; in others, civilians armed with metal rods.

Those attacked include:

  • reporter Aghvan Asoyan and camera operator Albert Galstyan from Armenia TV;
  • journalist Mariam Grigoryan and camera operator Davit Harutyunyan from Arajin Lratvakan;
  • reporters Karlen Aslanyan and Hovhannes Movsisyan and camera operator Garik Harutyunyan of Azatutyun;
  • reporter Robert Ananyan and camera operator Tigran Badalyan from A1+ TV;
  • camera operator Marut Vanyan from the Lragir.am news website;
  • journalists Sargis Kharazyan and Mkrtich Karapetyan from CivilNet;
  • reporter Hovik Grigoryan of Panorama.am; and
  • camera operator Tigran Gasparyan who works for Life.ru.

Mijatović also noted in the letter the statement published by the Armenian media NGOs of 21 July about the police attacks on journalists that took place in Yerevan days and weeks earlier. The victims included:

  • Gevorg Tosunyan, a journalist from iravaban.net;
  • Artak Hambardzumyan, a reporter from Azatutyun;
  • Arthur Hayrapetyan, a reporter from 4news.am; and
  • Tehmine Yenoqyan , a reporter from lragir.am.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom

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OSCE/ODIHR and OHCHR train prosecutors and lawyers in Kyrgyzstan on international standards regarding freedom of religion or belief

OSCE - Mon, 01/08/2016 - 16:09

International standards and the national legal framework on freedom of religion or belief were the focus of two consecutive training events organized jointly by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institution and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) from 25 to 28 July 2016 in Bishkek.

The training for 25 prosecutors and 31 defence lawyers from all regions of Kyrgyzstan was provided in close co-operation with the Training Centre for Prosecutors under the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Training Centre for Lawyers. The course covered a wide variety of topics directly relevant to the work of the participants, including recent developments in Kyrgyzstan.

Drawing on the guidance of national and international experts, participants discussed the nature of the right to freedom of religion or belief, its interrelatedness with other human rights and fundamental freedoms, the nature, extent and impact of violations of freedom of religion or belief, and the duties of the state to respect, protect and fulfil this universal human right. Participants also took part in mock trials on cases involving interference with freedom of religion or belief, such as through the banning of religious clothing and discrimination against religious organizations. 

“In using topical case studies, the participants were able to apply the knowledge they had acquired in a practical ‘courtroom’ environment and improve their legal skills in analysing freedom of religion or belief cases and advancing cogent and structured arguments,” said Mark Hill, one of the participating international experts and a senior barrister from the United Kingdom.

Dilnoza Satarova, Associate Officer on Freedom of Religion or Belief at ODIHR, said: “ODIHR welcomes co-operation with the Training Centre for Prosecutors of Kyrgyzstan and the Training Centre for Lawyers in organizing this course. Such capacity-building activities are key to advancing freedom of religion or belief for all, and ODIHR stands ready to support similar initiatives in Kyrgyzstan in the future.”

The two events are part of a series of training events for lawyers, prosecutors and judges on a variety of human rights-related issues conducted as part of the OHCHR project “Peace and Reconciliation through strengthening the rule of law and protection of human rights”, which is funded by the Peacebuilding Fund. 

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Categories: Central Europe

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