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Legislative amendments further restrict media in Belarus, says OSCE media freedom representative

OSCE - 6 hours 23 min ago

VIENNA, 18 June 2018 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir today expressed concern following the adoption of legislative amendments in Belarus which further restrict media activities in the country. The amendments affect the work of national mass media, internet resources, and foreign media outlets.

“The adoption of these amendments sends a worrying signal about media freedom and pluralism – online and offline –in Belarus,” Désir said. “I call on the Belarusian authorities to carefully review the law and bring it in line with international standards and OSCE commitments on freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

Among other things, the latest amendment to the law “On the mass media”, adopted 14 June by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, includes a general ban on foreigners, foreign legal entities, Belarusian entities with at least 20 percent stock belonging to foreign or international entities, and stateless persons establishing media outlets in the country (para 3 of Article 3).

Additionally, the amendments to the law provide the Ministry of Information with strict control over all online resources (Art. 51-1). “No Ministry should have the exclusive power to block access to any online resource without a court decision. Content removal should require judicial oversight,” Désir said.

The owners of online resources are now obliged to “analyse” all content as the law demands that they are responsible for preventing dissemination of untruthful information that may harm State or public interest, or defame individuals or legal entities. They are also liable if their resources are used to disseminate information or comments by internet users who have not gone through prior identification, as defined by the State (Art. 30-1).

“Many of the provisions are excessive and disproportionate and could result in the curtailing of freedom of expression, including the right of citizens to remain anonymous online,” Désir said.

The Representative also noted that the concerns expressed by national media NGOs, such as the Belarus Association of Journalists, had not been taken into account.

The law also continues to forbid citizens from contributing to foreign media without special accreditation, despite calls by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media to discontinue this practice.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. He 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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Categories: Central Europe

The OSCE supports opening of Capacity Development Centre

OSCE - 8 hours 17 min ago
384459 Kunduz Rysbek

Representatives of the Presidential Administration of Kyrgyzstan, the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CEC), the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Embassy to Kyrgyzstan participated in the opening ceremony of the Capacity Development Centre for the State Registration Services under the Government (SRS) in Bishkek on 14 June 2018.

The Centre will be a venue for conducting professional training sessions for SRS and CEC personnel during preparations for elections, as well as focused sessions for SRS specialists that provide public services, use of IT and digitalization processes in their work.

During the 2015–2017 electoral cycle, with the support of the OSCE Programme office in Bishkek and the UNDP, the SRS introduced new technologies, which required special training of the staff. More than 13,000 SRS/CEC experts were trained in use of the new ICT equipment as well as in the efficient organization of elections, the appropriate delivery of information and effective electoral disputes resolution mechanisms. This co-operative work led to the opening of the Capacity Development Centre.

The need for having such a training centre is still urgent, as skills and knowledge should be updated regularly to remain in step with new technologies and innovations,” emphasized Daniyar Bakchiev, the State Secretary of the SRS.

 “Change is the driver of progress and today the SRS is demonstrating that change is already taking place in Kyrgyzstan’s public services. The OSCE is pleased to have this opportunity to support and encourage these changes,” said Mr. Chiveri, Deputy Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek. The Centre will continue to play a significant role in maintaining and upgrading the SRS’ knowledge for improving the provision of public services and heightening inter-organizational communication.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Ambassadors visit South Caucasus

OSCE - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 19:12

Vienna, 17 June 2018 – A group of 25 Permanent Representatives to the OSCE will be traveling to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan from 18 to 22 June 2018. In all three countries, the ambassadors will meet with representatives of the national authorities and parliaments, as well as with civil society.

They will use the opportunity to see the reality on the ground at first hand and to convey messages to the national authorities and others whom they will meet during the trip. In particular, the visit aims to reconfirm the ambassadors’ support to stability, peace and prosperity in line with OSCE commitments and principles as well as their support to the OSCE’s past, current and potential future engagement in each of the three countries.

 

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 June 2018

OSCE - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:03

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, compared with the previous 24 hours. Surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft gun rounds were fired in the direction of an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle flying over Betmanove. The Mission observed damage caused by shelling and small-arms fire in and near residential areas of Pikuzy, Dokuchaievsk, Holubivske and Holubivka, as well as near Bohdanivka. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas and was also restricted near Sosnivske. The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to the Donetsk Filtration Station, including through monitoring the security situation around the station. It monitored and facilitated repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema and to sewage and water pipelines leading to the entry-exit checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including about 185 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 250 explosions).

On the evening and night of 14-15 June, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, four undetermined explosions, 11 projectiles in flight from east to west and five undetermined explosions, followed by totals of 38 undetermined explosions, one illumination flare in vertical flight, three muzzle flashes, 55 projectiles (19 from east to west and 36 from west to east) and two bursts of undetermined weapons, all 1-3km south.

On the evening and night of 14-15 June, the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (non-government-controlled, 9km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, three projectiles in flight from south-west to north-east, one projectile from east to west and one projectile from south-west to north-east, followed by totals of seven undetermined explosions, 12 projectiles (five from east to west, six from south-west to north-east and one from west to east) and a burst of an undetermined weapon, all 2-4km north-east.

On the evening of 14 June, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 81 explosions (76 assessed as undetermined, three as outgoing and two as impacts of undetermined weapon rounds) and about 750 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-6km south-east. On 15 June, while in the same location the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east.

On the evening and night of 14-15 June, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and eight bursts of small-arms fire, all 3-6km west and north-west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 170 explosions).

While in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 58 explosions (ten assessed as outgoing rounds of artillery and the remainder assessed as outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons), all 4-12km at directions ranging from west to north.

Surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft gun rounds were fired in direction of an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying over Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk). On 15 June, the UAV recorded the condensation trail of a missile following a ballistic trajectory at a significantly lower altitude than the UAV from the north-east. Immediately after, the UAV recorded a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) about 2km north-west of Panteleimonivka (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Donetsk), and about 4km north-east of the area where the UAV was flying, firing a second missile in the direction of the UAV which also followed a ballistic trajectory at a significantly lower altitude than the UAV. About three minutes later, the UAV recorded a probable anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) located near the surface-to-air missile system also firing several rounds in the direction of the UAV. The SMM assessed the fire as directed at the UAV (see SMM Spot Report 15 June 2018).*

The SMM observed damage caused by shelling and small-arms fire in and near residential areas. On 14 June, in Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol) near an abandoned school located at 14 Peremohy Street the SMM saw a fresh round-shaped crater 30m north-east of the north-facing wall of the school’s sports hall, assessed as caused by a 73mm recoilless gun (SPG-9) fired from a west-south-westerly direction. The SMM also observed two aluminum pieces (2.5cm by 2.5cm) lying on the ground next to the crater, assessed as stemming from a projectile.

At 27/2 Akhmatovoi Street in Pikuzy, the SMM observed two fresh holes on the west-facing wall of the abandoned building of the village council, assessed as caused by a 73mm recoilless gun projectile (SPG-9) fired from a west-south-westerly direction. The SMM also saw that around 20 corrugated roof panels on the south side of the roof above the holes had been destroyed or twisted, assessed as caused by an 82mm mortar round.

On 15 June, in Dokuchaievsk (non-government-controlled, 30km south-west of Donetsk), at 112a Lenina Street the SMM saw two bullet holes in a west-facing window of a flat on the fourth floor of a five-storey apartment building, assessed as caused by 7.62mm calibre ammunition from an undetermined weapon fired from a westerly direction. The owner of the flat (woman, 36 years old) told the SMM that she was at home with her six-year-old son around 17:00 on 14 June in another room when she heard a thumping noise and then saw the damage.

In Holubivka (formerly Kirovsk, non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk), while accompanied by members of the armed formations and local media, the SMM observed damage caused by shelling in a residential area. At 6 Sevastopolska Street, the SMM saw a residential one-storey house with its roof entirely destroyed as well as asbestos and wooden beams’ debris lying on the ground, and a fresh hole in the west-facing wall, assessed as caused by an artillery round fired by an undetermined weapon from a westerly direction. The owner (woman, 60 years old) told the SMM that an explosion occurred around 20:20 on 14 June while she was on the street. She added that her husband, a 64-year old man with a disability, was inside the house at the time but did not sustain any injury.

On the same street, four workers who were repairing a torn electrical wire lying on the ground told the SMM the damage had been caused by shelling on the evening of 14 June.

                                                                                                             

About 50m south-east of the first impact site in Holubivka, at 25 Chapaieva Street on 14 June the SMM met a woman (18 years old) who told the SMM that her mother was at a hospital in Holubivka. Three members of the armed formations told the SMM that they had been informed that the woman was injured as a result of shelling in the garden of her house at 25 Chapaieva Street around 20:20 on 14 June. On 15 June, medical staff at a hospital in Holubivka told the SMM that a woman (41 years old) resident of 25 Chapaieva Street had been admitted to the hospital around 21:00 on 14 June with a shrapnel wound to her right hand and had been released on the same evening.

About 0.5-1km east of the first impact site, in Holubivka, at 5 Hirnychoriatuvalna Street in the yard of a one-storey house, the SMM observed a fresh crater assessed as caused by an undetermined weapon fired from a west-north-westerly direction. About 15m east of the crater, the SMM saw that the west-facing window of a summer kitchen was shattered and observed a hole in the body of a refrigerator inside the room as well as three holes in the east-facing wall and a broken window, assessed as caused by shrapnel. The SMM saw that two west-facing windows of the house (located 25m east of the crater and 9m east of the summer kitchen) were shattered. The SMM also observed multiple shrapnel marks to internal walls, doors and furniture. The owner (woman, 55 years old) told the SMM that she had heard an explosion at around 20:15 on 14 June while she was inside the house.

In Holubivske (non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk), accompanied by members of the armed formations, at 55 Luhanska Street, the SMM observed a fresh hole on the north-facing side of an asbestos roof of a barn located 20m west of a house, assessed as caused by an undetermined weapon fired from a northerly direction. The owner (man, 35 years old) told the SMM that he was in his garage when he heard an explosion at around 20:25 on 14 June.

In a field 150m south-east of the nearest civilian house on Luhanska Street in Holubivske, the SMM observed a fresh oval-shaped crater assessed as caused by an undetermined weapon round fired from a northerly direction.

The SMM also saw two fresh craters in a field 20m south of the road leading from Novohnativka (government-controlled, 40km south of Donetsk) to Bohdanivka (government-controlled, 41km south-west of Donetsk), and 50m south-west of the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located at the western entrance to Bohdanivka.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted, but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On the evening and night of 14-15 June, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded, in sequence, five undetermined explosions, two projectiles in flight from south to north and an explosion assessed as the impact of a mortar or artillery round, all 3-5km east (all assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On the night of 14 June, the SMM camera near Prince Ihor monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded an undetermined explosion 3-5km west-north-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area. On 15 June, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard 50 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-6km west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

Positioned near the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM observed a calm situation.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum. In violation of withdrawal lines in a government-controlled area, an SMM long-range UAV spotted a self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) loaded on a truck heading east near Ocheretyne (31km north-west of Donetsk). In a non-government-controlled area, an SMM long-range UAV spotted a surface-to-air missile system (9K33) near Panteleimonivka (see above).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw 17 tanks (T-64) and 12 multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk) and 13 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in Khlibodarivka (65km south-west of Donetsk). In a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw three tanks (T-72) in a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in Donetsk region, the SMM noted that six self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and five towed mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were present and four towed mortars (2B9) were present for the first time.

The SMM revisited a permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region and noted that a tank (T-64) continued to be missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft guns[2] in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, on 14 June, an SMM mini-UAV spotted three infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP variant) near Khriashchivka (22km east of Luhansk). On 14 June, the SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (a BTR and an MT-LB) in Kalmiuske (formerly Komsomolske, 42km south-east of Donetsk). On 15 June, the SMM observed three IFVs (BMP-1) in a training area near Sofiivka (formerly Karlo-Marksove, 40km north-east of Donetsk) and an SMM long-range UAV spotted a probable anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Panteleimonivka (see above).

In government-controlled areas, on 15 June, an SMM long-range UAV spotted two IFVs (type undetermined) near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). The SMM also saw an APC (BTR-60) and an IFV (BMP-2) in Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), an IFV (BMP-2) near Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2, 23mm) mounted on a truck near Lomakyne (15km north-east of Mariupol), an APC (BTR-variant) near Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk) and an APC (BTR-80) in Stanytsia Luhanska about 200m north of the northern edge of the disengagement area.

The SMM observed new unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Petrivske. Approximately 30m west of the SMM camera, in a parking area used regularly for OSCE SMM vehicles, the SMM observed for the first time a piece of UXO, assessed as the tailfin of an exploded recoilless gun (SPG-9) round.

The SMM noted that the previously observed anti-tank mines at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in the north-eastern outskirts of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) had been removed.

The SMM continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the DFS, as well as demining activities around the station, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire. Positioned in areas near the DFS, the SMM heard ceasefire violations, despite explicit security guarantees (see above and table below for ceasefire violations).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) as well as to sewage and water pipelines leading to the entry-exit checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk) for about 40 minutes, the SMM saw 20 cars (six with Ukrainian and nine with Russian Federation licence plates as well as five with “DPR” plates) and a cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine. The SMM also saw 13 cars (two with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates as well as eight with “DPR” plates), a cargo truck (with “DPR” plates) and two buses (one with Ukrainian licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) as well as two pedestrians (a woman, 30-40 years old, and a girl, five years old) entering Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, UXO, 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. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (see SMM Daily Report 15 June 2018). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • Near Sosnivske (non-government-controlled, 35km north-east of Mariupol), two armed members of the armed formations prevented the SMM from entering the village.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM by phone that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. [3]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An armed formation member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.
  • The SMM did not travel across the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk) due to the presence of mines. At a checkpoint south of the bridge, an armed member of the armed formations told the SMM that he had no information regarding demining activities in the area. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • While conducting a long-range UAV flight near Betmanove, the SMM recorded the condensation trail of a missile as well as a second missile from a surface-to-air missile system (9K33) and several rounds from a probable anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) assessed as fired in the direction of the UAV. The UAV was retrieved without any damage.

 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. The SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Marinka was not operational during the reporting period.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

[3] The SMM informed Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC have withdrawn from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

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Categories: Central Europe

Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM): Surface-to-air missiles and rounds fired in direction of SMM long-range UAV

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 22:07

This report is for the media and the general public.

At 05:06 on 15 June, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was flying over Betmanove (non-government-controlled, formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, 23km north-east of Donetsk) recorded a condensation trail of a missile following a ballistic trajectory at a significantly lower altitude than the UAV from the north-east.

Immediately after, the UAV recorded a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) (in violation of withdrawal lines) about 2km north-west of Panteleimonivka (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Donetsk), and about 4km north-east of the area where the UAV was flying, firing a second missile in the direction of the UAV which also followed a ballistic trajectory at a significantly lower altitude than the UAV. About three minutes later, the UAV recorded a probable anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) located near the surface-to-air missile system also firing several rounds in the direction of the UAV. The SMM assessed the fire as directed at the UAV which was returned to base safely.

The UAV transponder had been tested prior to the flight and was functional at the time of the incident. The SMM had also, as per established procedure, given notice of the UAV flight in the general area.

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 14 June 2018

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 20:25

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. In Pikuzy, a member of the armed formations fired shots in the general direction of the SMM. The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk city. It observed fresh damage caused by shelling in a residential area of Donetskyi. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three areas as well as in or near the Trudivski area of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district, Pokrovka, Kozatske, Donetsk’s Kuibyshevskyi district and near Dovzhanske at the border with the Russian Federation. The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near residential areas in Donetskyi. The Mission continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to the Donetsk Filtration Station, including through monitoring the security situation around the station. It continued to monitor and facilitate repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including about 250 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions).

On the evening and night of 13-14 June, while in Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 110 undetermined explosions and over 320 bursts of heavy‑machine-gun fire, all 4-5km west-north-west.

On the evening and night of 13-14 June, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 3-5km south-east and about 80 further explosions (32 assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, 22 undetermined mortar rounds and the remainder undetermined) and about 550 shots and bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-7km south-east and south-west.

On the evening and night of 13-14 June, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, a shot in vertical flight, a muzzle flash and five projectiles in flight from south-east to north-west, followed by, in aggregate, 21 undetermined explosions, 752 projectiles (118 from north-west to south-east, 631 from south-east to north-west, two from south to north and one in vertical flight), 40 bursts and shots of undetermined weapons and a muzzle flash, all 2-4km east-north-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 170 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (21 explosions).

On the evening of 13 June, while in Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 130 undetermined explosions 10-15km west. During the day on 14 June, positioned in Berezivske (non-government-controlled, 53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 36 undetermined explosions about 10km north.

Members of the armed formations fired shots in the general direction of the SMM. In Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw two men in military-style clothing standing about 50m away, one of whom fired two short bursts with an assault rifle (AK-74) in the general direction of the SMM, at an upwards 45-degree angle. The armed man then took two to three steps in the direction of the SMM and fired another shot into the air in the general direction of the SMM, at an upwards 45-degree angle, after which both men turned and departed the area. (See SMM Spot Report 15 June 2018.)

The SMM continued to follow up on reports of civilian casualties. Following up on reports of two civilian casualties from the Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk city (non-government-controlled), the SMM spoke with a 42-year-old man with bandages on both his legs at the Donetsk Trauma Hospital. The man said that on 11 June he had been repairing the roof of a dormitory damaged by shelling at 13 Sofievska Street in Kuibyshevskyi district when shelling had started and he had been injured by shrapnel. The medical staff added that another man (25 years old) was still in the intensive care department but provided no further information.

The SMM observed fresh damage caused by shelling in a residential area of Donetskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km west of Luhansk). (See SMM Daily Report 12 June 2018.) On 13 June, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted fresh impacts at a residential property in the south of Donetskyi – two north-west of the house, one in a shed, and one in the garden south-east of the house – all assessed to have been probably caused by 120mm mortar rounds. At a nearby school (where the SMM observed a hole in its roof on 9 June), 100m west of the property, the UAV spotted two fresh impacts in the roof of the east-wing of the school and two fresh impacts in the yard, 60m north of the school, all assessed to have been probably caused by 120mm mortar rounds fired from a north-westerly direction. The UAV also spotted two trucks in revetted positions 30m east of the school and a truck in a revetted position 40m south of the school. The same UAV spotted a fresh crater 15m north-west of the nearest civilian property and at least 13 fresh craters on the southern edge of Donetskyi, near previously spotted underground shelters and a mortar pit – with a probable 120mm mortar (see below) – as well as 11 fresh craters in a field about 400m further south (all not visible in imagery from 9 June 2018), all assessed to have probably been caused by 120mm mortar rounds fired from a north-westerly direction. 

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted, but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

In the early hours of 12 June, the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded, in sequence, a burst of an undetermined weapon 0.5-1km south-west and two explosions assessed as impacts 1-1.5km south (all assessed as inside the disengagement area), followed by eight explosions assessed as impacts 1-1.5km at directions ranging from west-north-west to north-west (all assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On the evening of 13 June, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded, in sequence, an illumination flare 2-4km south-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area), eight projectiles in flight from west to east 4-6km south (assessed as outside the disengagement area), four projectiles in flight from west to east 2-3km south-south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), a projectile from east to west 2-3km south-south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), a burst 4-6km south-south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area) and seven projectiles from north to south 4-6km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area). The same evening, the SMM camera near the Prince Ihor Monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded an undetermined explosion 5-10km north-north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 14 June, positioned near all three disengagement areas, the SMM observed calm situations.

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

In violation of withdrawal lines on 13 June in a non-government-controlled area, an SMM mini-UAV spotted a probable 120mm mortar on the southern edge of Donetskyi (see above).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites, the SMM saw approximately 30 tanks (T-64) and a self-propelled anti-aircraft system (2K22 Tunguska, 152mm) near a railway station in Zachativka (government-controlled, 74km south-west of Donetsk) and five tanks near Pokrovka (non-government-controlled, 36km east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank weapons[2] and new military-type positions in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 10 June, aerial imagery revealed the presence of ten armoured combat vehicles near Troitske (69km west of Luhansk). On 13 June, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an IFV (BMP-1) near Novhorodske (35km north of Donetsk). The same day, the SMM observed two IFVs (BMP-1) in Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). On 14 June, the SMM saw an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-80) near Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk), two anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm) – one mounted on a truck in Popasna and one hitched to a truck near Shchastia – and a loaded anti-tank rocket launcher (RPG-22 Netto, 72.5mm) propped up on a stack of tyres at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Kriakivka (38km north-west of Luhansk), pointing at passing vehicular traffic.

In non-government-controlled areas, west of Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh, 90km south-east of Donetsk), aerial imagery revealed the presence of three new military-type positions on 7 June (not visible in imagery from 26 May 2018). On 12 June, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a new firing position near Novohryhorivka (61km north-east of Donetsk) (not visible in imagery from 26 May 2018). On 12 June, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a new firing position near Rozsadky (62km north-east of Donetsk) (not visible in imagery from 26 May 2018). On 13 June, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an IFV (BMP-1) near Nadarivka (64km west of Luhansk), two APCs (BTR-80) and an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Holubivka (formerly Kirovsk, 51km west of Luhansk), an IFV (BMP variant) near Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk) and an IFV (BMP-1) near Horlivka. On 14 June, the SMM saw two APCs (BTR-80) near Holubivske (51km west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed recently laid mines. On 14 June, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on the north-eastern outskirts of Popasna, the SMM observed 22 anti-tank mines (TM-62). Ten of the mines were laid in a row at 20-30cm intervals 5m from the north-side of a road. Two more rows, consisting of six mines each, were on the south side of the road, also 5m from the road and spaced at 20-30cm intervals. Earlier the same day, the mines had not been present there.

The SMM continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS), as well as demining activities around the station, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire. Positioned in areas near the DFS, the SMM heard ceasefire violations, despite explicit security guarantees (see table below for ceasefire violations). Positioned about 2km east of the DFS, the SMM observed about 40 people fortifying a trench and probable bunker near road H-04, about 150m south-west from the nearest civilian house. The SMM observed trucks carrying at least 12 loads of dirt to the site.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk). The SMM also noted ten Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel repair a broken bridge south-west of Popasna.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk) for 15 minutes, the SMM saw three cars, a mini-bus and a bus (all with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine and a bus and four cars (all with Ukrainian licence plates) and three pedestrians entering Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), 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. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (see below). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • On 13 June, two armed formation members prevented the SMM from entering the Trudivski area of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district.
  • On 14 June, three armed formation members prevented the SMM from entering Pokrovka.
  • On 14 June, an armed formation members prevented the SMM from proceeding east from Kozatske (non-government-controlled, 36km north-east of Mariupol).
  • On 14 June, armed formation members at a checkpoint in Donetsk city’s Kuibyshevskyi district, approximately 1.3km south-west of the Donetsk central railway station, told the SMM not to proceed beyond the railway station.
  • On 14 June, at a border crossing point near Dovzhanske, an armed formation member told the SMM to leave the area.
  • On 14 June, in Pikuzy, an armed formation member fired shots in the general direction of the SMM from a distance of 50m.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.[3]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. 4
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An armed formation member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • On 14 June, a woman in Holubivka stated she could not provide the SMM with additional information regarding the alleged shelling of a school in Donetskyi without permission from a “DPR” member.

 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. The SMM cameras at the entry-exit checkpoints in Marinka and Pyshchevyk were not operational during the reporting period.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

[3] The SMM informed Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC have withdrawn from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE supports training course in Kazakhstan on disrupting terrorist financing

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:25
Colin McCullough, OSCE Programme Office in Astana

A five-day training course aimed at strengthening the capacity of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Security Service and Prosecutor’s Office officials to disrupt the financing of terrorist networks and to apply sanctions pursuant to relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions concluded on 15 June 2018 in Astana.

The event was organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Astana in partnership with the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the Prosecutor General’s Office, the  Transnational Threats Department of the OSCE Secretariat, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The training course, led by OSCE and UNODC experts, focused on examining terrorist financial networks, disrupting financial flows, and conducting vulnerability and impact analyses. How to formulate and submit proposals for UN sanctions was also covered. Based on localized scenarios, the trainers identified specific instruments used during investigations to counter terrorist financial networks and to enhance inter-agency co-operation. The trainers focused in particular on compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1988, 1989, 2253, 2255 and 2368.

The event builds on the Programme Office’s multi-year efforts to promote good governance and is part of its multi-year efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE promotes rule of law in Kazakhstan

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 14:29
Colin McCullough, OSCE Programme Office in Astana

Current challenges and solutions for the ensuring the rule of law topped the agenda of this year’s annual Shaikenov Readings, which took the form of an OSCE-supported international conference on 15 June 2018 in Astana.

The event, named in honour of Nagashbay Shaikenov, former Minister of Justice and one of the most prominent legal scholars and state figures in the modern history of Kazakhstan, was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Legislation Institute.

Some 150 high-level government officials, parliamentarians, legal practitioners, and representatives of academia, international organizations and NGOs discussed a wide range of issues related to importance and role of the rule of law in the administration of justice. They reviewed existing practice in relation to the execution of administrative acts, and the improvement of Criminal Code provisions on responsibility for environmental criminal offenses. The development of legal education and legal expertise were also discussed.

Legal experts from Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation presented their perspectives on the development of the rule of law in the so-called digital era, as well as the existing trends in reforming administrative, commercial and family law in their countries.

Separate sections of the conference were devoted to the role of the public in the legislative process, as well as to enhancing the effectiveness of public law branches, such as the implementation of international criminal law norms in national legislation.

The event was co-organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Astana in partnership with the Justice Ministry’s Legislation Institute.

The conference is part of the Programme Office’s long-term activities in supporting the process of legal system reform in Kazakhstan.

Categories: Central Europe

Statement by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Italy, Enzo Moavero Milanesi

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 14:02

ROME, 15 June 2018 – It is an honour to be the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In a world of complex and inter-linked challenges that require effective multilateral solutions, the OSCE has a crucial role to play in fostering inclusive dialogue and improving our regional security. As the world’s largest regional security organization, the OSCE is a unique platform for political co-operation.

The concept of comprehensive security, upon which the OSCE is based, is today more topical than ever. It means that domestic and international security, economic and environmental co-operation, political and military dialogue, as well as respect for human rights and fundamental principles are intimately interconnected and must be pursued with a holistic approach. It is at the core of our vision for an innovative international security architecture.

This is the reason why “Dialogue, Ownership and Responsibility” is the motto of the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, reflecting the main principles which inspired the establishment of our Organization four decades ago and which can guide us on the way ahead.

Italy will do its utmost to build bridges and promote consensus. To relaunch the spirit of Helsinki, we need to strengthen the effectiveness of our Organization. Making the OSCE stronger, more responsive, more transparent, more resilient and open to new and effective collaboration, also with our Mediterranean and Asian Partners, is essential for the European and global security architecture.

As holder of the OSCE Chairmanship, Italy will continue to give great importance to the many challenges and opportunities emanating from the Mediterranean region, including migration. This is why intensifying dialogue and co-operation with the countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is essential for us.

We will continue to give top priority to the crisis in and around Ukraine, fully supporting the diplomatic efforts of the Normandy Format and of the Trilateral Contact Group to find a peaceful solution through the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

As for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process, the positive outcome of the 5+2 talks, which took place in Rome on 29 and 30 May, proves that proactively supporting existing negotiation frameworks can contribute to delivering continued progress and tangible results for the benefit of people.

We will also encourage a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by supporting the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. And we will continue to ensure an active OSCE contribution as Co-Chair of the Geneva International Discussions, which deal with the consequences of the 2008 war in Georgia.

The Italian Chairmanship will continue to work intensively to strengthen the three security dimensions of the OSCE: the politico-military dimension, the economic and environment dimension, and the human dimension.

We will maintain the strong focus on transnational threats. This includes fighting terrorism and radicalization, with a focus on combating the use of the Internet by terrorist groups; cybersecurity; and combating all forms of illicit trafficking. Fighting corruption will also remain high on our agenda, as corruption undermines the relationship - built on trust - between governments and their citizens.

The respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is our greatest common good. We therefore encourage the participating States to pay greater attention to countering trafficking in human beings and protecting the rights of victims, especially women, children and unaccompanied minors. We will counter all forms of racism, xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination.

In the OSCE we need a long-term, positive vision: to inspire and guide our actions; to defuse tensions through dialogue; to fully utilize the tool-kit of co-operative security; and to rediscover the bonds of civility that unite 57 participating States, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, despite their differences.

As OSCE Chairmanship, we will apply all our efforts, our determination and our resources to drive this vision forward. And we look forward to co-operating with all participating States and Partners for Co-operation to achieve these common goals.

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Categories: Central Europe

Spot Report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM): Warning shots fired 50m from SMM in Pikuzy

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:17

This report is for the media and the general public.

At 14:03 on 14 June, an SMM patrol consisting of six members and two armoured vehicles was in Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol) on the corner of roads T-0519 and C-051235, where it stopped to observe fresh tracks from what it assessed to be an infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-type) on the asphalt.

One of the patrol members exited his car, after which the entire patrol heard two short bursts of small-arms fire. From inside one of the vehicles, one of the SMM patrol members saw two men in military-style clothing standing about 50m south on the road. One of the men was armed with an assault rifle (AK-74) and firing his weapon, pointed in the general direction of the SMM, at an upwards 45-degree angle. The armed man then took two to three steps in the direction of the SMM, and fired another shot into the air in the general direction of the SMM, at an upwards 45-degree angle. After the last shot, both men turned and walked south along road C-051235.

The SMM assessed that the shots were fired to warn the patrol and force it to leave the area. The SMM immediately departed and returned safely to its base in Mariupol.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE assists law enforcement authorities in setting up an Advance Passenger Information System in Uzbekistan

OSCE - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:02
Communication and Media Relations Section

The Border Security and Management Unit (BSMU) of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, in close co-operation with the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, organized a workshop on establishing an Advance Passenger Information (API) system in Uzbekistan from 13 to 14 June. The event was aimed at detecting and preventing the movement of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), particularly those returning or relocating from conflict zones.

An API system is an electronic system through which biographic data from a traveller’s passport and flight details are collected by airlines. They are then transmitted to the relevant national authorities at the border before the departure or arrival of a specific flight. By checking the data against law enforcement watch lists, such as those of INTERPOL, border officials can know in advance whether FTFs or other passengers with suspicious profiles are attempting to enter their country.

The event brought together 45 representatives from all the national agencies involved in passenger processing.  They included the Head of the Aviation Security Department, police and customs officers, members of the State Security Service and the State Personalization Centre, as well as representatives from the INTERPOL National Central Bureau.

The main purpose of the workshop was to draft a tailored action plan outlining the relevant technological and operational procedures for setting up an API system in Uzbekistan. The workshop was also attended by border control officers from Australia, Hungary and the United States, as well as commercial services providers and representatives from Uzbekistan Airways, who shared their experience in implementing and using API systems.

Ambassador John MacGregor, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, said: “Establishing an API system can play a crucial role in enhancing border management and ensuring a more efficient co-ordination between national law enforcement authorities in the fight against organized crime and terrorism, which is one of the commitments included in Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2017-2021.”

The path to the establishment of an API system in Uzbekistan was paved by the adoption on 21 December 2017 of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, which grants border and customs officers the authority to collect, store and process passenger data while fully respecting citizens’ right to privacy. The Decision sets 2020 as the deadline for the establishing of the API system in the country.

The event in Uzbekistan was the eighth workshop on API that has been organized in the OSCE region since December 2016. TNTD/BSMU will conduct one more workshop in 2018, which will take place in Chișinău (Moldova) from 10 to 12 July.

Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 13 June 2018

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:03

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties in Holubivske. It observed fresh damage caused by shelling in a residential area of Pikuzy as well as damage to a school in Betmanove. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it observed military hardware inside the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three areas. The SMM observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near residential areas in Tarasivka as well as in Oleksandropil, Novoaidar and Topolyne. The Mission continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to the Donetsk Filtration Station through monitoring the security situation around the station. It continued to monitor and facilitate repairs to water pipelines near Holmivskyi and mine clearance at the entry-exit checkpoint near Maiorsk.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including, however, fewer explosions (about 150), compared with the previous reporting period (about 230 explosions).

On the evening and night of 12-13 June, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, three projectiles in flight from north-east to south-west, an undetermined explosion and eight projectiles from west to east, followed by totals of 23 undetermined explosions, two shots and about 155 projectiles (146 from west to east and nine from east to west), all 1-3km south, as well as an explosion assessed as an impact of a mortar or other artillery round less than 1 km south.

On the evening and night of 12 June, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard an explosion assessed as an outgoing mortar round 4-5km south-east, as well as 61 undetermined explosions and about 250 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-9km at directions ranging from east to west.

On the evening and night of 12-13 June, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two projectiles in flight from south to north, three undetermined explosions, two projectiles from south to north and six projectiles from north to south, followed by totals of 12 undetermined explosions and 286 projectiles (212 from south to north, 69 from north to south, one from south-east to north-west and four from south-west to north-east), all 3-6km east. During the day on 13 June, positioned in Maiorsk, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 3-5km south.

During the day on 13 June, positioned on the northern edge of Holmivskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions and 20 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 0.5-5km north-east and west-north-west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 21 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (two explosions).

During the day on 13 June, positioned in Komyshuvakha (government-controlled, 68km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 10-12km south.

The SMM continued to follow up on reports of civilian casualties. At the hospital in Holubivka (formerly Kirovsk, non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk), medical staff told the SMM that two patients were still being treated for injuries sustained during an explosion in a bus on 7 June (in which seven people were reportedly injured, see SMM Daily Report 13 June 2018). Medical staff added that one of the patients was a man (about 20 years old) who had suffered a concussion and the other was a woman (late fifties) who had a shrapnel wound to her right elbow, but that both were in stable condition. Medical staff said that another man (about 50 years old), the driver of the bus, had first been admitted to the hospital on 7 June with shrapnel wounds to his left eye and remnants of shrapnel in the bridge of his nose and then had been re-admitted on 12 June.

The SMM observed fresh damage caused by shelling in a residential area of Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol). On 13 June, the SMM saw a fresh crater (about 2m in diameter) 4m west of the west-facing wall of the school gym building, about 6m east of a barn in the yard of a house and 12m east of a residential building at 10 Pobedy Street. Shrapnel pieces were visible in the crater. The SMM also saw fresh shrapnel scarring on the west-facing wall of the gym (at least 50 marks) and on the east-facing wall of the barn (about ten marks), as well as corrugated asbestos panels that had been blown off the roof of the barn. Branches from trees and bushes 2-3m from the impact site showed fresh shrapnel marks. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by a 120mm mortar round fired from a west-south-westerly direction. A male resident (in his fifties) of 10 Pobedy Street told the SMM that he had heard explosions the evening of 12 June, one of which had impacted near his home.

In Betmanove (non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM followed up on reports of damage from gunfire to a school on Haharina Street. The SMM saw a broken north-west facing window in the ground floor office, a broken north-west facing window in the stairwell to the first floor and a bullet hole in the north-west facing wall. The SMM assessed the damage to have been caused by bullets fired from a north-westerly direction. According to a community representative and the head of the school, the damage had occurred on 11 and 12 June.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted, but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

After midnight on 8 June, the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded, in sequence, four bursts from west to east, a projectile from north-west to south-east and a projectile from west-north-west to east-south-east, all 200-500m south and south-south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On 13 June, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) inside the disengagement area near Petrivske, about 1.5km inside the south-western edge.[2] On the same day, at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Petrivske and east of the north-eastern edge of the disengagement area, the SMM saw a stationary armoured combat vehicle (ACV) (BTR variant) and several men in military-style clothing loading or unloading ammunition, small arms and a small recoilless gun (SPG type) on a tripod, as well as an IFV (BMP variant) heading east.

On 12 June, an SMM mini-UAV again spotted two IFVs (BMP-1) and a member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces within a residential area on the southern edge of Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk) and an IFV (BMP-1) on the south-western edge of Katerynivka, all inside the disengagement area near Zolote (see SMM Daily Report 26 April 2018 and SMM Daily Report 13 June 2018).  

On the night of 12-13 June, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded four undetermined explosions 5-15km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 13 June, positioned in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, the SMM observed a calm situation.

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

In violation of withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas, an SMM mini-UAV on 12 June spotted five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) about 100m from an abandoned school and residential buildings in Tarasivka (43km north-west of Donetsk), two self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and two anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in a residential area of Oleksandropil (43km north of Donetsk) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S3), two of which were probable, near Oleksandropil. On 13 June, the SMM saw six multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in a military compound near Topolyne (19km north-west of Mariupol) and a self-propelled howitzer (2S3) loaded on a flatbed truck heading west near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, an SMM mini-UAV on 12 June spotted eight tanks (T-64) near Zelene Pole (40km north-west of Donetsk) and three surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10) about 80m from an abandoned school and residential buildings near Tarasivka (see SMM Daily Report 24 May 2018).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw three tanks (two T-64 and one T-72) at a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in Donetsk region, the SMM noted for the first time that two weapons holding areas were abandoned with eight towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing, including five towed howitzers (2A36) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[3] in the security zone. In a government-controlled area, on 12 June, an SMM mini-UAV spotted an IFV (BMP-1) near Kriakivka (38km north-west of Luhansk). In a non-government-controlled area, on 13 June, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP) and an ACV (BTR) near Petrivske (see above).

In Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, non-government-controlled, 67km south-east of Donetsk), at the gate of a house, the SMM saw an advertisement by the armed formations (a poster with a picture of a tank) of vacancies for tank operators and free courses for operating tanks.

The SMM continued to facilitate the access of Voda Donbassa water company employees to and from the DFS, as well as demining activities around the station, through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire. Positioned in areas near the DFS, the SMM heard ceasefire violations, despite explicit security guarantees (see above and the table below for ceasefire violations). The SMM noted that a previously reported 82mm mortar shell tailfin located between the DFS and Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report 11 June 2018) had been removed.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs to 3km of a water pipeline near Holmivskyi by a Voda Donbassa repair team. It also facilitated mine clearance at the entry-exit checkpoint near Maiorsk by an international organization. 

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for 30 minutes, the SMM saw a bus and a minibus (both with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine and six cars (five with Russian Federation and one with Ukrainian licence plates) and a bus and a minibus (both with Ukrainian licence plates) entering Ukraine. The SMM also saw, among other vehicles, 20 trucks with semi-trailers (eight with Ukrainian licence plates, of which two were uncovered empty trailers and the remainder had covered cargo areas, including two cooler trailers; two with Russian Federation licence plates, three with Belarusian licence plates and covered cargo areas, including one cooler trailer, as well as seven with “DPR” plates and covered cargo areas, including one cooler trailer) in a queue to exit Ukraine.

While at a pedestrian border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for 20 minutes, the SMM observed no pedestrians present.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), 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. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (see SMM Daily Report 12 June 2018). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. [4]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. [4]
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An armed formation member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. The SMM cameras at the entry-exit checkpoints in Marinka and Pyshchevyk were not operational during the reporting period.

[2] Addendum: In reference to the SMM Daily Report of 12 June 2018, the relevant part should read “On 10 June, an SMM mini-UAV spotted for the first time a 70m-long extension of a trench system about 100m north of the disengagement area, about 150m north-west of Petrivske (not visible in imagery from 7 February 2018)”, not 150m north-east.

[3] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

[4] The SMM informed Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the JCCC have withdrawn from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE media freedom representative says proposed amendments to Albania’s Law on Audio-Visual Media could negatively affect public broadcaster RTSH

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 17:43

VIENNA, 14 June 2018 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir today said he was concerned about recent proposals to amend the Law on Audio-Visual Media in Albania.

The country’s Audio-Visual Media Authority transmitted several amendments to the Law on Audio-Visual Media to the Ministry of Finance and Economy on 8 June. The amendments were drafted by the owners and directors of four local and two national television stations in Albania. One of their key demands is that the private broadcasters should be allocated part of the TV licence fee that is currently funding the public service broadcaster, RTSH.

“I am concerned that this proposal could affect the financial sustainability of the RTSH,” said Désir. “Public service broadcasters have an important role in providing quality information and nationwide coverage and must have the adequate resources to perform their duties.”

“Any system of state subsidies to media needs to be subject to a public consultation including all the media stakeholders. It should also have a clear and broad objective of support to all media sectors, including online, print and local press, with transparent criteria and procedure, no political interference and with the aim to strengthen media plurality,” he added.

The Representative offered the support of his Office in providing a legal analysis of any media-related draft legislation once it is officially proposed by the government.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. He 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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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media deeply worried by disappearance of journalist in Bela Crkva, Serbia

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:47

VIENNA, 14 June 2018 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir today expressed his concern following last night’s disappearance of Stefan Cvetković, a journalist from Bela Crkva in Serbia.

According to the police, who already started an investigation, Cvetković’s car was found in Bela Crkva with the doors open and headlights switched on.

In addition, journalists who tried to contact him report that all his mobile phones were turned off.

“I’m deeply worried by Cvetković’s disappearance and urge the Serbian authorities to do their utmost to find him,” Désir said, welcoming the fact that the police have deployed substantial resources and that President Vučić is closely following the case.

Cvetković was reportedly working on a story lately related to the murder of Oliver Ivanović, a politician assasinated in Kosovo in January this year.

Moreover, he has been the subject of several threats in the past. In March last year the journalist was sentenced by the Basic Court in Vršac to two years and three months in prison and given a fine of 2,150,000 million dinars following a lawsuit filed by three local politicians. These verdicts were annulled by the High Court.

Désir also noted concerns regarding the disappearance of the journalist raised by many local journalists’ associations and foundations including, UNS, NUNS, NDNV, LP, AM, ANEM, AOM and Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation.

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Categories: Central Europe

Human rights situation in Crimea focus of OSCE/ODIHR expert meeting in Kherson

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:08
Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Report of the Human Rights Assessment Mission on Crimea (6–18 July 2015)

The current human rights situation in Crimea and the challenges faced by human rights defenders working on and in Crimea were discussed at an expert meeting on 14 June 2018 in Kherson, Ukraine. The meeting was organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in co-operation with the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

The event brought together 28 participants (15 women and 13 men) from leading civil society organizations working on Crimea human rights issues, intergovernmental organizations and the presidential Mission. Participants examined the current human rights situation in light of the recommendations provided in the 2015 Report of the Human Rights Assessment Mission on Crimea, prepared by ODIHR and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM).

“The ODIHR/HCNM report highlighted a number of human rights challenges and provided a list of recommendations to address them. It is important to revisit together the recommendations and assess their implementation,” said Jennifer Croft, Deputy Head of the Human Rights Department at ODIHR. “ODIHR’s aim with this event is to facilitate the dialogue between Ukrainian civil society and relevant authorities, with the aim of strengthening joint and co-ordinated responses to the identified challenges and issues.”

Eskender Bariiev, Director of the Crimean Tatar Resource Centre, said: “Co-operation and collaboration among human rights organizations, minority communities and state authorities in Ukraine are at the core of timely and efficient response to pressing challenges that residents of Crimea, including minority and indigenous communities and other vulnerable groups, face.”

“The expert meeting is of great importance for enhancing co-operation between human rights defenders and the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” said Borys Babin, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. “This will further the efforts of my office to promote and monitor the observance of the human rights of Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea and of internally displaced persons from the peninsula.”

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug to hold news briefing on Friday

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:53

KYIV, 14 June 2018 – Alexander Hug, the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, will hold his regular news briefing on Friday, 15 June, in Kyiv.

He will talk about the security situation throughout Ukraine and the Mission’s recent activities.

Journalists are invited to attend the news briefing tomorrow, 15 June, at 12:30 (Kyiv time), at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, at the Ukrainian House, 2 Khreshchatyk Street.

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

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Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR concludes support to electoral reform working group in Skopje, will support review of electoral code

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:22

A team of experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) visited Skopje from 13 to 14 June 2018 to provide assistance at the final meeting of the working group on electoral reform, which is mandated to review the country’s electoral code.

The working group was established by the Ministry of Justice, and the meeting was co-organized with the civil society organization MOST. The group included representatives of parliamentary political parties, relevant institutions and civil society organizations, and met five times since it was set up in May. Previous ODIHR electoral recommendations were an integral part of the discussions.

The ODIHR team shared expertise and good practices for effective electoral reform, including on the benefits of broad engagement, inclusiveness and transparency in the group’s work. Experts supported the group by providing technical and legal expertise, particularly in the areas of election administration, voter registration and media coverage of campaigns.

The output of the sessions will serve as the basis for the Ministry of Justice to either draft amendments to or prepare a new electoral code in the coming months. ODIHR will continue to support this process by offering technical expertise and a legal review.

All OSCE participating States have committed themselves to promptly following up on ODIHR’s electoral recommendations, and ODIHR has consistently supported these efforts.

The support to the working group was provided under the project Support to Elections in the Western Balkans, which aims to strengthen ODIHR’s assistance to the electoral follow-up processes in the region. The project is funded by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency. The visit was co-ordinated with the OSCE Mission to Skopje.

Categories: Central Europe

Press Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group following their meetings with Armenian officials

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 13:32

YEREVAN, 14 June 2018 - The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk, met with Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, and President Armen Sarkissian during an introductory visit to Yerevan on 12-14 June.

The Co-Chairs and the Armenian officials reviewed the status of negotiations and discussed next steps to move the process forward, including a ministerial meeting in the near future. They also exchanged views on the current situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the line of contact, underscoring the importance of maintaining a constructive environment. ‎

The Co-Chairs reiterated their commitment to helping the sides find a peaceful solution to the conflict based on the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, including the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

Armenian officials expressed their support for the work of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Personal Representative and their willingness to continue working productively under the auspices of the Co-Chairs.

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Categories: Central Europe

Draft National Strategy and Action Plan for combating trafficking in human beings focus of OSCE-supported workshop held in Podgorica

OSCE - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:58
Karen Gainer

The OSCE Mission to Montenegro, in partnership with Montenegrin National Coordinator’s Office for Combating Human Trafficking, organized a workshop dedicated to the preparation of the 2019-2024 Draft National Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) and the 2019 Action Plan from 11 to 13 June 2018 in Podgorica.

Topics discussed in the workshop, led by international expert Bistra Netkova, included the legal framework against THB; analysis of the results from 2012 to 2017 and recommendations for the next five years; European Union strategy on combating THB; THB prevention; THB victims’ identification and protection, and strategy co-ordination and implementation.

Some 20 practitioners, representing the national inter-agency working group for THB strategy, Higher Court, Justice Ministry, State Prosecutor’s Office, Interior Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry, Finance Ministry, Education Ministry, Tourism and Sustainable Development Ministry and NGO sector, participated.

“Co-operation on this level is considered essential for the development of a legal framework for combating trafficking in human beings and advancing with the activities in this area,” said OSCE Robert Kucharski, OSCE Programme Manager for Security Co-operation and Governance.

The Strategy and the Action Plan are expected to be adopted by the end of 2018. The activity is part of the Mission’s efforts to address transnational threats to security and is a continuation of support provided in the preparation of the key documents.

The second workshop will be held from 25 to 27 June in Podgorica.

 

Categories: Central Europe

Press Statement of Special Representative of OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sajdik after Meeting of Trilateral Contact Group on 13 June 2018

OSCE - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:15

MINSK, 13 June 2018 – The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Ambassador Martin Sajdik, made the following statement to the press after the meeting of the TCG ‎and its Working Groups in Minsk on 13 June 2018:

“As you know, the Normandy Four Foreign Ministers meeting took place in Berlin the day before yesterday. The sides expressed their recommitment to the Minsk agreements and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. I am convinced that the activation of the Normandy Four at different levels will also give significant political impetus to our work here in Minsk.

Today I would like to note a few important trends. This year, to date, the number of civilian casualties has been significantly reduced compared to the similar period of 2017. The total number of casualties declined by 55%, and the number of fatalities by 37%. I want to say, however, that even a single casualty is too much. Regrettably, this year the number of child fatalities is bigger by one child compared to the last year; this raises my indignation. 

As regards the Donetsk Filtering Station (DFS), I am glad that all the repair works have been completed thanks to the security guarantees provided to the employees. I hope that in the future I will not have to talk again about the DFS in my briefings. 

This topic was discussed today in the Security Working Group. Besides, issues related to the disengagement of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement areas were duly considered.

The Economic Working Group continued its discussion on the way to restore and improve the mobile communication of Vodafone-Ukraine in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (CADR and CALR). It was noted that more time and considerable technical investments are required to restore full-fledged high-quality communication services.

The participants also considered the issues of water deliveries in the supply systems "Karbonyt" and "Voda Donbassa".

The Working Group on Humanitarian Issues continued its discussion on the exchange of detainees as well as on the issue of missing persons.

Another important topic for the Working Group was the improvement of conditions for crossing the contact line via checkpoints, including the one in Stanytsia Luhanska. In particular, the repairs of the access pathway to the bridge on the northern bank of the Seversky Donets were discussed.

The Working Group on Political Issues further considered the implementation of the so-called ‘Steinmeier formula’, amnesty and modalities of local elections in CADR and CARL. As I have already mentioned, active interaction with the Normandy Four is of particular importance for the activities of the Political Working Group.”

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Categories: Central Europe

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