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

OSCE - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 18:36

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 recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas and observed enhanced military and military-type presence inside the Petrivske disengagement area. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as in Staromykhailivka and near Bezimenne.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of agreed withdrawal lines near Pyshchevyk. The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station; it also facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including about 300 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 200 explosions).

On the evening of 18 October, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 95 undetermined explosions and 140 shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-6km at directions ranging from east to west.

On the evening and night of 18-19 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded 58 explosions (35 assessed as impacts and the remainder undetermined) and about 125 projectiles in flight (most from west to east), all 1-4km south-south-east, south and south-south-west.   

On the same evening and night, the SMM camera in Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol) recorded two undetermined explosions and about 340 projectiles in flight (most from south-west to north-east), all 2-5km south and south-east.

On the same evening and night, the SMM camera 1.5km north-east of Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol) recorded 29 explosions (six assessed as impacts and the remainder undetermined) and about 440 projectiles in flight (most from south to north and from north to south), all 2-4km in easterly directions.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 13 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (11 explosions).

During the day on 19 October, positioned 1.5km south-west of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 3-5km west-south-west.

The SMM continued to monitor 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[2] (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.*

Positioned about 2km north of Petrivske, the SMM saw a recently deepened trench leading to a position assessed as belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, inside the Petrivske disengagement area, about 500m south of its northern edge and about 2km east of its western edge. About 700m north-east of that trench, also inside the disengagement area, the SMM saw another recently deepened trench and fortified position, assessed as belonging to the armed formations, about 150m south of the northern edge of the disengagement area and about 500m west of its eastern edge. From the same location, the SMM saw three members of the armed formations, one armed, outside the disengagement area moving to positions in a treeline north of its north-eastern edge.

Positioned inside 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 agreed withdrawal lines, on 19 October, the SMM saw a towed howitzer (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) near Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, on 18 October, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted 18 self-propelled howitzers (11 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm and seven 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm), three towed howitzers (D-30), six anti-tank guided missile systems (9P148 Konkurs, 135mm) and six anti-guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) at a railyard near Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk). The same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) near Predtechyne (58km north of Donetsk), 12 tanks (T-64), 13 self-propelled howitzers (11 2S3 and two 2S1) and a self-propelled anti-aircraft system (2K22 Tunguska) near Rubizhne and a tank (T-64) near Siversk (99km north of Donetsk). On 19 October, the SMM saw four tanks (T-72) loaded onto trailers on the western outskirts of Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), five tanks (T-72) loaded onto trailers on the south-eastern outskirts of Sievierodonetsk, 17 tanks (T-72) being loaded onto trains in Rubizhne, a surface-to-air missile system (9K33) near Memryk (33km north-west of Donetsk) and a self-propelled howitzer (2S1) at the train station in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV)[3] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 18 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted seven armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) near Leonidivka (41km north of Donetsk) and an SMM long-range UAV spotted four ACVs (type undetermined) 2km north-west of Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1) in Zolote, and three IFVs (BMP-1) and two ACVs (type undetermined) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk). The same day, the SMM saw an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Toretsk (government-controlled, 43km north of Donetsk), an ACV (type undetermined) inside a compound of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Zolote-4/Rodina (59km west of Luhansk). On 19 October, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-2) in Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) and an IFV (BTR-4) at a checkpoint of the Ukrainian Armed Forces west of Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk).

In non-government-controlled areas, on 18 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted seven IFVs (BMP-1) and one armoured personnel carrier (MT-LB) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk). On the same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an ACV (type undetermined) near Smile (31km north-west of Luhansk) and an ACV (type undetermined) near Znamianka (36km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and at the Krasnohorivka gas distribution station between Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk)[4]. It also monitored adherence to the ceasefire to facilitate demining in the area of Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk). The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire.

The SMM monitored a border area outside of government control. While at a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk) for about 45 minutes, the SMM observed 12 cars (four with Ukrainian and eight with Russian Federation licence plates) entering Ukraine and eight cars (three with Ukrainian and four with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “DPR” plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates) and three covered cargo trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine.

The SMM observed nine stationary gasoline tank railcars with inscription “RZhD” and 70 stationary coal railcars on tracks in Rovenky (non-government-controlled, 54km south of Luhansk).

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 (for example, see SMM Daily Report 17 October 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:

  • At a checkpoint in Staromykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 15km west of Donetsk), a member of the armed formations denied the SMM passage, citing “the need to submit a request to the armed formations for crossing the checkpoint”. The SMM observed that civilian vehicles were allowed to pass the checkpoint in both directions.
  • At a checkpoint near Bezimenne (non-government-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol), an armed member of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage, citing “ongoing demining activities in the area”. The SMM observed that civilian vehicles were also refused passage west at the checkpoint, however civilian vehicles were allowed to turn north towards Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol). 

Regular restrictions 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 informed 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.[5]
  • 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 informed 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.6
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A member of the armed formations informed 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 south across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) due to the possible presence of mines. 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.6

Other impediments:

  • On the evening of 18 October, an SMM long-range UAV temporarily lost communications[6]  on five occasions, assessed as due to jamming, near Ivanopillia (government-controlled, 51km north of Donetsk), between Predtechyne and Klishchiivka (government-controlled, 60km north of Donetsk), between Pokrovske (government-controlled, 74km north of Donetsk), Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk), Novotoshkivske and Trokhizbenka (government-controlled, 32km north-west of Luhansk), near Kudriashivka (government-controlled, 83km north-west of Luhansk) and near Pryvillia (government-controlled, 90km north-west of Luhansk).
  • At a school in Koshary (non-government-controlled, 51km south of Luhansk), staff refused to speak with the SMM, citing the need for written permission from the armed formations. 
 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

* 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] Due to the presence of mines, including on a road between Bohdanivka and Petrivske, the SMM’s access to its camera in Petrivske remains limited, and thus the SMM has not been able to access observations from the camera since 22 June 2018.

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

[4] The region of Oleksandrivka was incorrectly referenced in SMM Daily Report 19 October 2018 and should read 20km south-west of Donetsk.

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

[6] The interference could have originated from anywhere within a radius of several kilometres of the UAV’s position.

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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, 18 October 2018

OSCE - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:22

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission followed up on a civilian car carrying a family that was struck by a ricocheted bullet at the entry-exit checkpoint in Marinka. The Mission recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas and observed military presence in the Zolote disengagement area. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as near Verkhnoshyrokivske and Kovske.* The SMM observed weapons in violation of agreed withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station; it also facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM observed public gatherings marking the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day in Kyiv, Sievierodonetsk, Mariupol, Lviv and Chernivtsi.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 200 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 260 explosions).

On the evening and night of 17-18 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded about 13 undetermined explosions, about 45 projectiles in flight (mostly from west to east) and 24 muzzle flashes, all 1-4km at southerly directions.

On the evening and night of 17-18 October, the SMM camera 1.5km north-east of Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol) recorded seven undetermined explosions, about 330 projectiles in flight (most from northerly to southerly directions) and six muzzle flashes, all 2-4 east-north-east, east and east-south-east. The following day, the same camera recorded about eight undetermined explosions, 30 projectiles in flight (all from southerly to northerly directions) and a muzzle flash, all 3-4km east-south-east.

On the evening and night of 17-18 October, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions about 20 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-4km south-south-east and south-west. On 18 October, from the same location, the SMM heard 34 undetermined explosions and 135 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-4km at south-east and south-west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations and no explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (seven explosions).

Positioned in Holubivske (non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 14 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire and ten shots of small-arms fire, all 5-7km north-east.

The SMM saw damage to a civilian car carrying a family of a man, woman and two children at the entry-exit checkpoint in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk). In the line for traffic traveling east, the SMM saw a white Skoda Octavia with an 8mm hole in the upper left corner of the rear windshield. About 1.5-2m east of the car, the SMM observed a tall metal support pole that serves as part of an open shelter structure at the checkpoint. About 3.5m high the SMM saw a scratch on the pole about 8mm in diameter, which it assessed was caused by small-arms round (7.62mm) hitting the pole. The SMM assessed that the hole in the rear windshield was caused by a small-arms round (7.62mm), fired from a north-easterly direction in a downward trajectory, which had ricocheted off the nearby metal pole and penetrated the rear windshield. The Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint commander said that the car had been struck by a bullet about two minutes prior and that he had immediately notified the SMM for observation. The Ukrainian Armed Forces commander told the SMM that the driver (male, late twenties) of the vehicle had been standing outside the car with a State Border Guard Service official who was inspecting the car at the time of the incident and that the woman (late twenties) and two children (boys, 18 months and seven years old) had all been in the back seat. The SMM saw the family standing nearby and observed that they appeared to be in shock and none of them could speak.

The SMM continued to monitor 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[2] (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.*

During the night of 18 October, the SMM camera positioned at the Prince Ihor Monument south-east of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded two projectiles in flight from west to east 2-4km north (assessed as outside the disengagement area) and ten projectiles in flight from north-east to south-west 3-5km north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, on 17 October, the SMM saw two Ukrainian military personnel walk south into a field on the northern edge of the disengagement area. On 18 October, the SMM saw a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer carrying a chainsaw exit the disengagement area on the north-eastern edge near Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk) and a black Volkswagen sedan with two Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel inside drive into the disengagement area from Katerynivka and travel west. The same day, the SMM observed an IFV (BMP-1) on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area.

Positioned about 2km north of Petrivske, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 2-3km south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and four bursts of small-arms fire 1-2km south-west (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

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, on two separate occasions, the SMM observed four self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in the same area  being transported on trucks on road T-1306 2-3km east of Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk).

In violation of withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area, on 17 October, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted 15 tanks (T-72) in a known training area near Boikivske (formerly Telmanove, 67km south-east of Donetsk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, on 17 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted seven tanks (T-64), six anti-tank-guided missile systems (9P148 Konkurs, 135mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in a railyard in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk). On 18 October, the SMM observed four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Rivnopil (65km south-west of Donetsk), eight MLRS (BM-21) near Peredove (68km south-west of Donetsk), six trucks each loaded with a tank (T-72) on the north-western outskirts of Sievierodonetsk and 13 self-propelled howitzers (2S3) and four towed howitzers (type undetermined) at a railway station in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk).  

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and an anti-aircraft gun[3] and other indications of military presence in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 17 October, an SMM long-range UAV spotted two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1) near Hnutove (90km south of Donetsk) and an IFV (BMP-1) and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) near Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). On 18 October, the SMM observed an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-4) near Sukha Balka (36km north of Donetsk), five IFVs (BMP-2) on the northern outskirts of Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), three IFVs (BMP-2) north-west of Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol) and an IFV (BMP-1) in Zolote-4/Rodina (60km west of Luhansk).

On 17 October, an SMM long-range UAV spotted at least 25 fresh craters, assessed as caused by (82mm) mortar rounds, in a residential area of Vodiane (government-controlled, 94km south of Donetsk) (some of the impacts were 200m away from the closest house).

On 17 October, about 4km south of Naberezhne (non-government-controlled, 77km south of Donetsk) and 100m north-west of military-type positions, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted four fresh craters, assessed as caused by mortar rounds. The SMM could not assess the direction of fire.

On 18 October, the SMM observed two members of the armed formations reinforcing a trench north of a road about 1km west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM was restricted three times in this area.*

The SMM continued to observe mines for the first time. On 17 October, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted at least newly laid six anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid across a road on the north-eastern outskirts of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk). 

The SMM observed marking of mines and demining. On the western side of road P-66 between Myrna Dolyna (government-controlled 67km north-west of Luhansk) and Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw six workers wearing clothing with the logo of an international demining organization. They were working in an area about 20m west of the road where the vegetation had been cut and stakes and marking tape were being put in the ground.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk), to water wells near Krasnyi Lyman (non-government-controlled, 30km north-west of Luhansk), to electrical infrastructure in Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk) and at the Krasnohorivka gas distribution station between Marinka and Oleksandrivka (non-government-controlled, 20km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire.

The SMM monitored a border area outside of government control. While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM observed 26 pedestrians exit Ukraine and seven cars (two with Ukrainian, three with Russian Federation and two with Georgian licence plates) and 29 pedestrians enter Ukraine.

In Kyiv, Sievierodonetsk, Mariupol (government-controlled, 102km south of Donetsk), Lviv and Chernivtsi the SMM observed gatherings marking the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day. The SMM observed between 20 and 300 people (men and women, mainly young adults) in each city gather and march through central squares, some people carrying banners reading “Walk for Freedom” and “People are not for sale.” The SMM observed peaceful situations at each gathering.

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

*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 (for example, see SMM Daily Report 17 October 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.

Denials of access:

  • On two separate occasions, at a checkpoint about 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol), three armed members of the armed formations again prevented the patrol from traveling east to non-government-controlled area, on one occasion citing “orders from a superior”.
  • At the northern entrance of Kovske (non-government-controlled, 91km south of Donetsk), two armed men in camouflage clothing at a checkpoint of the armed formations denied the SMM access to the village, citing “ongoing special operations in the area as well as attempting to capture some criminals”.

Regular restrictions 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 informed 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 informed 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.5
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A member of the armed formations informed the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

Delay:

  • At the same checkpoint about 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske where two others patrols had again been denied access, three armed members of the armed formations stopped the SMM and prevented it from traveling east. After 60 minutes, the SMM was allowed to travel east.
  • At a military compound near Rivnopil, a Ukrainian Armed Forces commander told the SMM that he had orders from his superiors not to allow anyone into the compound. After 50 minutes, the SMM was granted access.

Other impediments:

  • On the evening and night of 17-18 October an SMM temporarily lost communications[5] with an SMM long-range UAV near Vodiane (government-controlled, 94km south of Donetsk), Pikuzy (non-government-controlled, 92km south of Donetsk), Vershynivka (non-government-controlled, 62km south-east of Donetsk), Novozarivka (non-government-controlled, 47km south-east of Donetsk), Panteleimonivka (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Donetsk), Petrivka (43km north of Donetsk).  
 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

* 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] Due to the presence of mines, including on a road between Bohdanivka and Petrivske, the SMM’s access to its camera in Petrivske remains limited, and thus the SMM has not been able to access observations from the camera since 22 June 2018.

[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 withdrew from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

[5] The interference could have originated from anywhere within a radius of several kilometres of the UAV’s position.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative deplores death threats against Novaya Gazeta journalists, urges Russian authorities to ensure journalists’ safety

OSCE - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 14:52

VIENNA, 19 October 2018 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today deplored the intimidation and death threats directed at journalists with the well-known Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He urged the authorities to swiftly and fully investigate these incidents and ensure journalists’ safety.

“Threats to media workers are completely unacceptable, as they undermine independent and investigative journalism, sow fear and affect freedom of expression and the free flow of information,” said Désir. “I deplore the latest death threats directed at Novaya Gazeta’s staff and urge the authorities to ensure the journalists’ safety and bring the responsible to justice.”

On 17 and 18 October, the editorial office of Novaya Gazeta received a funeral wreath and a dead lamb’s head, and the accompanying notes “Denis Korotkov – traitor of the motherland” and “To chief editor of Novaya Gazeta, greetings to you and Korotkov”. Korotkov is a journalist with Novaya Gazeta, who previously worked as an investigative reporter with the St. Petersburg-based online media outlet Fontanka.Ru. His recent investigative stories published by Fontanka.Ru uncovered the participation of mercenaries from Russia in the Syrian conflict, for which he reportedly has received threats. Additionally, on 17 October, Korotkov received a bouquet of four carnations with a mourning ribbon and a note stating “We will not forget you”.

According to Novaya Gazeta, there is also an ongoing online campaign accusing the newspaper of allegedly divulging the data about Russian pilots in Syria, which placed their families in danger, and calling for reprisals against journalists. The newspaper rejects these accusations and says that no such data has ever been published.

“I understand that law enforcement officials have already been notified of these incidents and have started looking into them,” said Désir. “I call on the authorities to prioritize the investigation into this case and find all those behind the attacks. If not addressed in a timely manner, such threats can easily escalate and incite hostility and violence.”

The journalists working with Novaya Gazeta have been subjected to intimidation, harassment and threats on numerous occasions in the past. Several of the newpaper’s journalists were murdered for their work, including Anna Politkovskaya, Igor Domnikov and others. 

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, Italian Embassy train law enforcement agencies in Kosovo on combating corruption

OSCE - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 11:13

PRISHTINË/PRIŠTINA, 19 October 2018 – Over 40 representatives of law enforcement agencies in Kosovo concluded today an advanced anti-corruption training programme, organized by the 2018 OSCE Italian Chairmanship, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and the Italian Embassy in Prishtinë/Priština.

The three-day event, held under the auspices of the 2018 OSCE Italian Chairmanship, included officers from the Kosovo Police, Police Inspectorate, Anti-Corruption Agency, Financial Intelligence Unit and various judicial institutions. It was designed to strengthen capacities for fighting corruption through the presentation of experiences and best practices of the Italian Guardia di Finanza and Prosecution Service.

“We were happy to contribute by sending our best people to Prishtinë/Priština. Corruption is, unfortunately, a pressing issue throughout the world, but I believe my country, and the Guardia di Finanza in particular, have an edge on this matter, as we are quite advanced in investigating and prosecuting corruption,” said Alessandro Azzoni, Permanent Representative of Italy to the OSCE.

In the course of the programme, the participants attended modules on preventive and repressive activities; tracking of financial flows in money laundering investigations; international legal tools for investigations into corruption; investigative techniques; and criminal asset recovery.

“Kosovo is making progress on its track record in combating corruption and organized crime, but these efforts need to be sustained and further strengthened,” said Jan Braathu, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. “The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is a partner for our counterparts in the Kosovo Police, Judiciary and Prosecutorial Services. Together with the Italian Embassy and the OSCE Chairmanship, we seek to support, encourage and enable Kosovo institutions in their efforts against corruption through specialized training.”

Piero Sardi, Italian Ambassador to Prishtinë/Priština, said that Italy supports the fight against corruption, which falls within the wider fight against organized crime as well as within the overall effort to reinforce, implement and, where needed, enforce the rule of law. “Fighting against corruption is an essential part of strengthening the rule of law, since corruption is detrimental to citizens, distorting the effective functioning of the institutions. It puts a financial burden on the economic system and entails the disruption of the social fabric. In the medium and long term, corruption hampers Kosovo’s development potential, both in the economic and in the social fields.”

As a follow-up, from November 2018 through March 2019, the Italian Government will support a project aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo in conducting criminal investigations into allegations of misconduct by members of Kosovo Police. The project will enhance the capacity of the Inspectorate to protect the identity of informants and whistle-blowers, investigate financial irregularities, conduct risk analysis of corruption in the police and strengthen integrity testing in the police.

The Italian OSCE Chairmanship has identified anti-corruption as one of its top priorities.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE co-organizes training seminar on risk profiling in Kazakhstan

OSCE - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 11:12
400331 Colin McCullough, OSCE Programme Office in Astana

An OSCE-supported five-day training seminar on risk profiling at border checkpoints concluded in Zharkent, Kazakhstan on 19 October 2018.

Nineteen officers of the Border Service of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee took part in the event. The training seminar was organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Astana together with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US Embassy in Astana and the Border Service of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee.

The workshop was led by experts from the Central Asian Regional Information Co-ordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC) and the Academy of the Border Service of the Committee for National Security of Kazakhstan. They instructed personnel in employing statistical instruments to analyse information on criminal incidents and develop an actionable in-depth risk profile to assist in countering transnational threats. 

The curriculum included techniques for in-depth psychological analysis of a suspect’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour as well as ways to identify specific risk indicators. A number of practical exercises provided the participants with an opportunity to use their newly acquired knowledge.

The event is part of a series that builds on training events for border guards, organized in different locations around Kazakhstan for more than 200 border service officers since 2016. It is part of the Office’s activities aimed at enhancing the host country’s border security and promoting integrated border security management while countering transnational threats.

Categories: Central Europe

Justice for Children focus of OSCE-supported study visit to Georgia by Tajik government delegation

OSCE - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 09:54
400316 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

The implementation and monitoring of Georgia’s Justice for Children System Reform Strategy and National Action Plan were the focus of an OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe-supported study visit by members of the Tajik Inter-Agency Working Group for Juvenile Justice Reform to Tbilisi from 8 to 12 October 2018.

Georgia was chosen as the destination of the visit because of its successful implementation of system reforms in the sphere of Justice for Children. Topics highlighted during the visit included Georgia’s development of the Juvenile Justice Code, the Diversion and Mediation Programme, the specialization of justice system professionals to deal with child suspects, witnesses and victims, data collection, individualized rehabilitation and reintegration plans, and child-friendly environments and approaches in police and court settings.

“This trip was very beneficial for us, as we visited various Georgian agencies and institutions gaining insight into important implementation issues relevant to the reforms envisioned in the 2017-2021Tajik National Action Plan on Juvenile Justice Reform,” said Navruz Shohiyon, representative of the Juvenile Justice Department of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Justice who was one of the participants of the trip.

The visit was organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe in co-operation with UNICEF Georgia.

Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 17 October 2018

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 19:19

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region, compared with the previous reporting period. Small-arms fire was directed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle near Zolote-5/Mykhailivka. The Mission recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. The SMM observed weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as near Verkhnoshyrokivske and Valianivske.* An SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle again spotted vehicles in a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region moving on a dirt road in the middle of the night away from and towards the border with the Russian Federation where there are no border crossing facilities. The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station; it also facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering in relation to public service and economy and observed it disperse peacefully.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, a similar number of explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 260 explosions).

On the evening of 16 October, the SMM camera at the entry-exit checkpoint in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) recorded an undetermined explosion and five projectiles in flight from south-east to north-west, all 0.5-1km east-south-east. Immediately thereafter, the camera recorded an explosion assessed as an impact of either a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG-7) or a recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) about 100m east-north-east within the premises of the entry-exit checkpoint.

On the evening and night of 16-17 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded about 30 undetermined explosions and about 110 projectiles in flight (mostly from west-north-west to east-south-east and from south to north), all 0.5-4km at southerly directions.

On the evening and night of 16-17 October, the SMM camera 1.5km north-east of Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol) recorded 22 undetermined explosions and about 500 projectiles in flight (mostly from north-west to south-east and from south-west to north-east), all 3-5km at easterly directions.

On the evening and night of 16-17 October, the SMM camera in Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol) recorded 30 undetermined explosions and about 130 projectiles (mostly from west-south-west to east-north-east and from east-north-east to west-south-west), all 1-7km at directions ranging from east-south-east to south-south-west.

On the evening of 16 October, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 4-5km north-east as well as about 80 undetermined explosions and about 40 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-4km at south-westerly directions.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including seven explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 20 explosions).

On 17 October, while conducting a mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight near the southern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard eight shots of small-arms fire 0.5-1km north, assessed as aimed at the UAV. The SMM landed the UAV, which was undamaged, and departed the area.*

The SMM continued to monitor 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[2] (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 night of 16-17 October, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard six shots of small-arms fire 4-5km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 17 October, positioned in Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 59km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 8-12km east-south-east, followed by 16 bursts of small-arms fire 0.6-1.5km east-north-east, all assessed as outside the disengagement area.

The same day, positioned in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area and near the Petrivske disengagement area, 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 in a government-controlled area, on 17 October, the SMM saw four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) being transported by trucks on the eastern edge of Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk).

In violation of withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw ten stationary multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 56km south-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage areas in government-controlled areas, on 16 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted three towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1) in a railyard in Khlibodarivka (65km south-west of Donetsk) and four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) in a compound about 400m south of the aforementioned railyard. The same day, the SMM saw six self-propelled howitzers (2S7 Pion, 152mm) at the railway station in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk). On 17 October, the SMM saw four self-propelled howitzers (2S1) near Khlibodarivka.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage areas in a non-government-controlled area, on 17 October, the SMM saw eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1) in firing positions at a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM revisited a heavy weapons permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region and noted that four MLRS (BM-21), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and six towed howitzers (five D-30 and a 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV)[3] and a UAV in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 16 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) near Hranitne (60km south of Donetsk). The same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an armoured personnel carrier (MT-LB) near Troitske (69km west of Luhansk). On 17 October, the SMM observed an unmarked, fixed-wing UAV flying from south-west to north-east about 2km south-west of Chermalyk at an altitude of about 100m and then turn west towards Kyrylivka (26km north-east of Mariupol).

In non-government-controlled areas, on 16 October, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted two armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) in Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol). The same day, an SMM long-range UAV spotted two IFVs (BMP-1) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk). On 17 October, the SMM saw an ACV (BMP or MT-LB variant) near Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk).

In a non-government-controlled area of Donetsk region, an SMM long-range UAV again spotted vehicles on the unpaved road moving north-east towards the border with the Russian Federation and then south-west away from it where there are no border crossing facilities. At around 23:00 on 16 October, the UAV spotted a truck (Ural) and a car (SUV) near Manych (non-government-controlled, 76km east of Donetsk) heading north-east on an unpaved road until it reached a parking area in a field about 3.5km east-north-east of Manych. The truck then moved in reverse on the dirt road a few metres further north-east and stopped there with its rear cargo deck facing north-east towards the border with the Russian Federation. About one hour later, the UAV spotted a group of at least 12 people walking from the border to the parked truck and some of them entering the rear of the truck, which remained in the area. At around 00:20 on 17 October, in the same area, the UAV spotted three trucks separately moving south-west from the border: one of them continued to travel south-west along the aforementioned dirt road while the others remained in the aforementioned parking area.

The SMM continued to observe unexploded ordnance (UXO). On the asphalt road about 1.5 km east of Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM noted that a previously observed anti-tank mine (TM-62M) was no longer present. (See SMM Daily Report 17 October 2018.) However, the Mission continued to observe anti-tank mine fuses scattered on the southern part of the road.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and to electrical infrastructure in Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk) and near Zolote-5/Mykhailivka. The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire.

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored about 5,000 people (mixed ages and genders) gather at Shevchenko Park and walk to the Cabinet of Ministers building at 12/2 Mykhayla Hrushevskoho Street. Participants were demanding lower utility costs and higher salaries. On the way to the Cabinet of Ministers building, the SMM saw police officers surround and detain two participants. The SMM saw approximately 400 police officers securing the building. After about four hours, the gathering dispersed peacefully.  

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

*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 (for example, see SMM Daily Report 17 October 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.

Denials of access:

  • At a checkpoint about 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol), two armed members of the armed formations again prevented the patrol from traveling west, citing “orders from superiors.”

Regular restrictions 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 informed 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 informed 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.5
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A member of the armed formations informed the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • While conducting a mini-UAV flight near the southern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka, the SMM heard small-arms fire 0.5-1km north, assessed as aimed at the UAV.
  • An SMM mid-range UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming[5], near Chermalyk.
  • An SMM mini-range UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming, near Novohnativka (government-controlled, 40km south of Donetsk).

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

[2] Due to the presence of mines, including on a road between Bohdanivka and Petrivske, the SMM’s access to its camera in Petrivske remains limited, and thus the SMM has not been able to access observations from the camera since 22 June 2018.

[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 withdrew from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

[5] The interference could have originated from anywhere in a radius of several kilometres of the UAV’s position.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE regional meeting in Albania highlights critical role of civil society in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:42
Communication and Media Relations Section The Role of Civil Society in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism: A Focus on South-Eastern Europe

Civil society has a critical role to play in preventing violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (VERLT) and more can be done to strengthen partnerships between government and civil society in order to address this security challenge, said speakers at a two-day regional meeting in Tirana on 17 and 18 October 2018. A new OSCE guidebook that focuses on the role of civil society in addressing VERLT in the context of South-East Europe was also launched at the event.

More than 60 participants from across the South-East Europe region including both government officials and civil society groups participated in the meeting. They discussed and shared emerging good practices in strengthening the role and the voice of civil society and focused on building their capacity.

“Effective counter-terrorism efforts are critical but insufficient without an emphasis on prevention,” said Albanian Deputy Minister of Interior Romina Kuko. “Engaging civil society organizations through a trust-based relationship with government actors creates an understanding of a shared responsibility for security.”

The Albanian National Co-ordinator for countering violent extremism, Agron Sojati, observed that increased efforts had been made at both the national and regional levels to improve co-operation, co-ordination and communication in practice and policy concerning preventing and countering VERLT. He highlighted the example of a newly established multi-agency platform in Albania.

The Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Bernd Borchardt, noted that in tackling VERLT “engagement with civil society actors– giving them the tools and support they need to flourish– enhances the value of individuals, communities and civil society in strengthening security.”

Participants also learnt about the new Guidebook on Good Practices in Strengthening the Role of Civil Society – a Focus on South-Eastern Europe, developed by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, which aims to promote  inclusive, multi-stakeholder processes in developing strategies and programmes to prevent and counter VERLT through safe, impactful and sustainable initiatives..

The guidebook, funded by the Austrian Government, is one of the first in a planned series of regionally-focused guidebooks by the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department on challenges in developing and implementing effective programmes in this area.

The Head of the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, Argo Avakov, said the guidebooks highlight the OSCE’s ongoing role in supporting its participating States with good practices to prevent and counter VERLT.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE holds national table top exercise in Turkmenistan on protecting critical energy infrastructure from cyber-related terrorist attacks

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:32
400289 Communication and Media Relations Section

Strengthening protection and preparedness against terrorist attacks aimed at critical energy infrastructure was the focus of a risk-assessment and crisis management exercise held in Turkmenistan’s capital on 17 and 18 October 2018, organized by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.  

The exercise was held as part of the OSCE’s efforts to advance the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2341 (2017) on the protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks, and is the eighth national exercise on enhancing the capacities of OSCE participating States to mitigate terrorist attacks emanating from cyberspace on their critical energy infrastructure.

The exercise sought to raise awareness on the threat and vulnerabilities of critical energy infrastructure and to improve interagency co-ordination and collaboration in order to increase resilience. Through a simulation, 28 national experts, including representatives from the state and the energy sector tested the effectiveness of their existing protection and crisis management systems, including co-ordination with external crisis management mechanisms to mitigate the impact of a terrorist cyber-attack.

“The use of ICT to conduct disruptive attacks on critical infrastructure is an increasing possibility,” said Koen De Smedt of the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department. “This exercise will help test and develop Turkmenistan’s national, sectoral and company-level capabilities to respond to a terrorist cyber-attack directed at industrial control systems.“ 

The training is based on the OSCE Good Practices Guide on Non-Nuclear Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection from Terrorist Attacks Focusing on Threats Emanating from Cyberspace.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE media freedom representative expresses concern regarding new registration system and threat of potential closure of online portals in Albania

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:06

VIENNA, 18 October 2018 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today expressed concern about the announcement of a new registration system for 44 websites in Albania and their potential closure.

On 15 October, the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority in Albania published a list of 44 media websites required to register with the National Business Centre and to acquire their tax number (business registration number) within 72 hours, which they must then publish online. Failure to comply would result in the websites being closed down. This initiative, supported by the government, reportedly aims to address concerns about online defamation.

“States should not impose mandatory registration to online media as a precondition for their work which can have a very negative effect on media freedom. This practice, when applied, could seriously restrict public access to diverse sources of information, the plurality of voices, and erode the right of freedom of expression and information online,” said Désir.

The Representative appealed to the Albanian authorities to reconsider these actions, to examine all possible alternatives to address the defamation issue and launch an inclusive debate with relevant civil society and media stakeholders.

“It is of crucial importance to have more information about the exact objectives of the announced measures, as well as the criteria based on which these 44 websites have been selected,” said Désir. He further asked for clarification on the legal basis for requiring these websites to publish their business company’s tax number and the legal basis for the closure of websites.

In a letter addressing this issue sent to the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, the Representative offered his legal assistance. Désir also recalled his Office’s recommendations on protecting media freedom and freedom of expression in the regulation of online content in South-East Europe, emphasizing that any regulation of online content needs to take into account international obligations, including OSCE commitments.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE organizes roundtable discussion on Tajikistan’s legislation for transition to digital broadcasting

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 11:36
400247 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

A roundtable discussion of Tajikistan’s legislation on the country’s transition to digital broadcasting was jointly organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe and the Parliament of Tajikistan on 18 October in Dushanbe. The discussion focused on a legal analysis of the existing relevant Tajik law conducted by legal experts of the OSCE in the summer of 2018.

Some 50 representatives of the Parliament, civil society, media community and international organizations attended the discussion.

The legal analysis of Tajik law was conducted at the request of Tajikistan’s Parliament, in relation to the revision of existing legislation and preparation of the legal ground for the transition to digital broadcasting. 

In his opening remarks, Scott Kearin, Head of the Human Dimension Department of the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, underlined the importance of the transition to digital broadcasting. “Transition to digital broadcasting is not a simple switch from an old to a new technology. It is an important opportunity to accelerate the convergence process, whereby information technology, broadcasting and telecommunications can interact and provide new opportunities to develop the economy, empower citizens, and provide the whole society with new tools of communication,” he said.

Olim Salimzoda, Chairperson of Tajikistan’s Parliamentary Committee on International Relations, Public Organizations and Information, thanked the OSCE for its continuous support in improving the country’s legislation and emphasized the importance of preparing a legal basis for the digital switchover. He said: “Based on the analysis prepared by the OSCE experts, our Committee will develop a draft law on amendments and additions to legislation on media by the end of 2018, which will establish a good legal basis for the transition to digital broadcasting, in line with the OSCE standards and principles.”

Categories: Central Europe

The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe highlights its support for business development in the regions of Tajikistan at international entrepreneurship forum

OSCE - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 08:35
400016 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

On 15 October over 2,000 participants from 21 countries gathered at the fourth annual International Entrepreneurship Forum in Dushanbe. High-level government officials, financial institutions, businesses, diplomats and representatives of international organizations discussed the development of entrepreneurship and investment, as well as contemporary economic trends.

In his speech to the Forum, President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, highlighted the investment opportunities in the country, the need to develop entrepreneurship and embrace modern communication technologies and innovative economic processes.

Addressing the Forum, Edward Safaryan, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe’s Economic Officer highlighted the OSCE’s contribution to entrepreneurship and business development. “We are supporting the realisation of new business ideas through a network of Business Resource Centres operating in Garm, Shaartuz and Kulyab.”  Safaryan added that the establishment of Business Resource Centres was the result of joint work by the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe and the State Committee on Investment and State Property Management of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Safaryan also referred to the Office’s recent initiative of organizing three start-up weekends, during which young people had the opportunity to work with mentors to shape and present their business ideas for further development and implementation. He stressed that “private initiatives driven by the younger generation of entrepreneurs” deserve to be supported in order to stimulate young people’s interest in business.

During the Forum, several agreements on investments and collaboration, including in the food and beverage industry, textile production, urban infrastructure and agribusiness were concluded.

Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 October 2018

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 19:44

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 reporting period. Small arms were again fired near an SMM patrol and towards an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle near Mykolaivka Druha. The Mission observed weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. The SMM recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote disengagement areas. The SMM’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas as well as near Yuzhna-Lomuvatka, Novoazovsk, Zaichenko and Siedove, near the border with the Russian Federation.* The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station. It also facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to and maintenance of critical infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, repairs to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne, as well as demining in the area of Zolote-2/Karbonit. In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering in relation to electoral legislation.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1]including about 260 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 420 explosions).

While conducting a mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight on the morning of 16 October near Mykolaivka Druha (government-controlled, 55km north of Donetsk), an SMM patrol heard three bursts of small-arms fire 1km south-east, followed four minutes later by five shots of small-arms fire approximately 100-200m south-east, assessed as aimed at the UAV. The SMM landed the UAV, which was undamaged, and departed the area.*

On the evening of 15 October, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk) recorded 13 explosions (one assessed as an impact of an undetermined weapon and the remainder undetermined) and about 85 projectiles in flight (mostly in vertical flight), all 1-4km at directions ranging from south-south-east to south-south-west. 

On the evening and night of 15-16 October, the SMM camera 1.5km north-east of Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol) recorded about 30 undetermined explosions and about 280 projectiles in flight (mostly from north to south and south to north), all 2-5km at directions ranging from east-north-east to south-east.

On the evening and night of 15-16 October, the SMM camera in Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol) recorded 13 explosions (one assessed as an impact of an undetermined weapon and the remainder undetermined) and about 210 projectiles (mostly from west-north-west to east-south-east and from east-north-east to west-south-west), all 1-4km at southerly and easterly directions.

On the evening of 15 October, while in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 38 undetermined explosions and about 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-6km south-east and south-south-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 20 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 60 explosions). 

Positioned on the north-western outskirts of Holubivske (non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk) for about 25 minutes, the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions and about 15 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-5km north-east.

The SMM continued to monitor 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[2] (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 of 15 October, positioned on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 5-7km south-south-east and five shots of anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2, 23mm) fire 3-5km south-west, all assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On the evening of 15 October, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded three projectiles in flight from south to north 2-4km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area), followed about 15 minutes later by two projectiles from east-north-east to west-south-west 2-4km south-south-east and a projectile from north-east to south-west 2-4km south (all unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area). On the morning of 16 October, positioned on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM saw a wheeled military-type vehicle (type unknown) inside the disengagement area, in its north-eastern part.

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 linesin a non-government-controlled area, on 14 October, aerial imagery revealed the presence of 20towed howitzers (undetermined variants) and 19 self-propelled howitzers (undetermined variants) in a training area about 2km south-east of Buhaivka (37km south-west of Luhansk).

In violation of withdrawal linesin government-controlled areas, on 15 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted six tanks (T-64) near Loskutivka (72km west of Luhansk). On 16 October, the SMM saw two towed howitzers (a probable D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm and a 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) near Smolianynove(61km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage areas in non-government-controlled areas, on 14 October, aerial imagery revealed the presence of 16 tanks (undetermined variants) and four surface-to-air missile systems (undetermined variants) in a training area about 2km south-east of Buhaivka, 12 tanks (undetermined variants) in a training area near Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk), 30 tanks (undetermined variants) in a training area near Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk), 20 tanks (undetermined variants) in a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) and 59 tanks (undetermined variants) in a training area near Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk) (for previous observations in these areas, see SMM Daily Report 4 October 2018).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage areas in government-controlled areas, on 16 October, the SMM saw four tanks (T-64) in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk),five anti-tank guided missile systems (9P148 Konkurs, 135mm) near Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk) and a towed howitzer (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) near Rodynske (59km north-west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and an anti-aircraft gun[3] in the security zone. In non-government-controlled areas, on 14 October, aerial imagery revealed the presence of an ACV near Svobodne (73km south of Donetsk), in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014, and an ACV near Novoselivka (37km north-east of Donetsk). On 15 October, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-80) near houses in Petrivske, aninfantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) near Petrivske, an APC (BTR variant) andtwoIFVs (BMP-1) near Bila Kamianka (51km south of Donetsk)and anIFV (BMP-1) near Styla (34km south of Donetsk). On the same day, an SMM mini-UAV spotted an ACV near Bezimenne (100km south of Donetsk). On 16 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted five IFVs (BMP variants) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk). On 16 October, the SMM saw an IFV (BMP-1) being towed by a truck near Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk).

In government-controlled areas, on 15 October, an SMM long-range UAV spotted three armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2), a probable ACV and an IFV (probable BMP-2) near Nevelske (18km north-west of Donetsk), an IFV (BMP-2) and an ACV near Slavne (26km south-west of Donetsk) and six ACVs (type undetermined) near Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk). It also spotted two IFVs (BMP-2), an APC (MT-LB) and three ACVs near Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk), two ACVs near Novohryhorivka (55km south of Donetsk), three ACVs and an IFV (BMP-1) near Mykolaivka (40km south of Donetsk), an IFV (BMP-1) near Novohnativka (40km south of Donetsk), an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) in Olhynka (40km south-west of Donetsk) and an IFV (BTR-4) near Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk).On 16 October, an SMM mini-UAV spotted an ACV near Ozarianivka (formerly Pershe Travnia, 52km north of Donetsk). On the same day, the SMM saw an IFV (BTR-4)near Novobakhmutivka and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol).

The SMM continued to observe mines. On the asphalt road between Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol) and Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 85km south of Donetsk), about 1.5 km east of Pyshchevyk, the SMM saw for the first time an anti-tank mine (TM-62M) without fuse as well as more than 15 anti-tanks mine fuses scattered (two of them recently and the remainder partly burned) on the southern part of the main road.

The SMM saw demining activity. At the intersection of roads P-22 and T-1309, 4km south-west of Shyrokyi (government-controlled, 38km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw people wearing clothing bearing the logo of an international demining organization carrying out demining activities.

The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the Petrivske pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk), to electrical infrastructurein Betmanove (formerly Krasnyi Partyzan, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Donetsk)and to water distribution infrastructure in Krasnyi Lyman (non-government-controlled, 30km north-west of Luhansk). It also monitored adherence to the ceasefire to facilitate demining in the area of Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk). The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS, including through monitoring adherence to the ceasefire.

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. While at a border crossing point near Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) for about ten minutes, the SMM saw three cars (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence places) entering Ukraine and two cars (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine.

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering in favour of the adoption of a new electoral code before the next parliamentary elections. Around 150 people (mixed ages and genders) carrying flags of various political movements and paper signs with messages critical of the current electoral system blocked entrances to the Parliament building at 18 Mykhaila Hrushevskoho Street and 3A Sadova Street. The SMM observed about 50 police officers and 75 National Guard officers standing around the premises of the Parliament and near Mariinskyi Park. The protest ended peacefully.

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

*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 (for example, seebelow). 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.

Denials of access:

  • At a checkpoint in Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (non-government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations denied the SMM passage, citing “demining and engineering works ongoing in the area”. 
  • At a checkpoint near Siedove (non-government-controlled, 33km north-east of Mariupol), near the border with the Russian Federation, two armed members of the armed formations denied the SMM access to the village, citing an “event going on in the area”.
  • At a checkpoint near Novoazovsk, two members of the armed formations again prevented the SMM from passing through, citing “orders from their superiors”.
  • At a checkpoint about 1km north of Zaichenko (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol), two armed members of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage south to Zaichenko and Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol).

Regular restrictions 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 informed 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 informed 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.5
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A member of the armed formations informed the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.

Delay:

  • At a checkpoint north of Slovianoserbsk (non-government-controlled, 28km north-west of Luhansk), an armed member of the armed formations denied the SMM passage, citing the need to obtain a “permission”. After 16 minutes, the SMM was allowed to proceed but was told “not to launch any UAV flights within 200m of any armed formations positions”.

Conditional access:

  • At a checkpoint near Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), two members of the armed formations allowed the SMM to proceed only after visually inspecting its trailer.

Other impediments:

  • During the evening of 15 October, an SMM long-range UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal on five occasions, assessed as due to jamming[5], near Stepanivka (government-controlled, 54km north of Donetsk), Zoloti Pisky (government-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk), between Novolaspa (non-government-controlled, 50km south of Donetsk) and Petrivske, between Bohdanivka and Buhas (government-controlled, 44km south-west of Donetsk) and between Liubivka (non-government-controlled, 20km south of Donetsk) and Semenivka (government-controlled, 24km north-west of Donetsk).
  • In the morning of 16 October, an SMM long-range UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming7, near Stepanivka.
  • In the morning of 16 October, an SMM mini-UAV temporarily lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming7, near Starohnativka. 
  • Onthe morning of 16 October, whileconducting a mini-UAV flight near Mykolaivka Druha, the SMM heard three bursts of small-arms fire 1km south-east, followed four minutes later by five shots of small-arms fire approximately 100-200m south-east, assessed as aimed at the UAV.
  • Staff at a school in Pervomaisk refused to provide the SMM information without prior approval from senior members of the armed formations.

[1]For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. 

[2]Due to the presence of mines, including on a road between Bohdanivka and Petrivske, the SMM’s access to its camera in Petrivske remains limited, and thus the SMM has not been able to access observations from the camera since 22 June 2018.

[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 withdrew from the JCCC as of 18 December 2017.

[5]The interference could have originated from anywhere in a radius of several kilometres of the UAV’s position.

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Categories: Central Europe

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

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 17:36

KYIV, 17 October 2018 – Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug will hold his regular news briefing on Thursday, 18 October.

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

Journalists are invited to attend the news briefing tomorrow, 18 October, at 14:15 (Kyiv time), at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, at the Ukrainian House, 2 Khreshchatyk Street, Kyiv.

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

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE, Italian Embassy organize advanced anti-corruption training for law enforcement agencies in Kosovo

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 17:12

PRISHTINË/PRIŠTINA, 17 October 2018 – The 2018 OSCE Italian Chairmanship, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, and the Italian Embassy in Prishtinë/Priština today began an advanced anti-corruption training programme for law enforcement agencies in Kosovo.

The three-day training will be delivered by senior anti-corruption experts from Italy: the Head of the Guardia di Finanza Anti-Corruption Special Unit, Gaetano Luigi Cosimo Scazzeri; the Guardia di Finanza Expert on Anti- MoneyLaundering seconded to the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, Roberto Magni; and the Chief Prosecutor of the Italian Province of Asti, Alberto Perduca.

Officers of the Kosovo Police, the Police Inspectorate, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Financial Intelligence Unit and judicial institutions will hear about Italy’s experience in fighting corruption, such as: preventive and repressive activities; tracking of financial flows in money laundering investigations; international legal tools for investigations into corruption cases; investigative techniques; and criminal asset recovery.

The Italian OSCE Chairmanship has identified anti-corruption as one of its key priorities.

On the second day of training course, a joint press conference will be organized, at which Italian Ambassador Piero Sardi, OSCE Mission Head Jan Braathu, Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri and Anti-Corruption Agency Director Shaip Havolli, and the Italian experts conducting the training programme, will address the journalists.

Media are cordially invited to cover the press conference tomorrow, Thursday, 18 October 2018, at the Italian Embassy in Prishtinë/Priština, starting at 16:00 hrs.

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Categories: Central Europe

The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe supports economic connectivity in Central Asia

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 14:52
400013 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe contributed to the development of regional economic connectivity by supporting the annual International Economic Forum “Sughd-2018” which took place on 11 October 2018 in Khujand, northern Tajikistan. This year, the forum was dedicated to the achievements and tenth anniversary of the Free Economic Zones (FEZs) in Tajikistan.

At the International Economic Forum, the Government of Tajikistan hosted 500 entrepreneurs and foreign business entities from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to discuss co-operation and perspective projects.

A special session was dedicated to maximising the potential of FEZs, with best practices shared by neighbouring countries, as well as visit to three local companies operating in the Sughd FEZ. The Forum concluded with the signing of a memorandum of collaboration between Sughd FEZ and its counterpart in Ontustik, Kazakhstan.  

Edward Safaryan, Economic Officer at the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, said in his opening remarks: “Tajikistan’s FEZs host leading local companies that are capable to move the country’s international economic growth forward. The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe is proud to support the country’s FEZs to expand their potential.”

The annual International Economic Forum was organized and co-ordinated by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan. It was supported by the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, UNDP Tajikistan and the mobile phone operator Megafon Tajikistan.   

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE- supported Women's Entrepreneurship Fair concludes in Sarajevo

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 13:53
400031 Željka Šulc

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in co-operation with the Regional Association of Women Entrepreneurs, organized a one-day Women’s Entrepreneurship Fair on 17 October 2018 in Sarajevo.

The fair gathered 30 female entrepreneurs from Sarajevo and Istocno Sarajevo with the aim of empowering women entrepreneurs, strengthening their co-operation, and promoting their products and businesses.

“As part of this event, a group of successful female entrepreneurs will offer their insights into what it takes to launch, sustain and grow a small business. We hope to improve the links between women-led businesses in the area, to connect them with potential markets, and to promote their impressive collection of products and services,” said Bruce G. Berton, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH.

Adrijana Rac, Project Assistant at the City Development Agency Istocno Sarajevo, said that there is a need to support women and give impetus to their business ideas, as the entrepreneurial spirit exists but needs encouragement to grow. “The fair is an excellent opportunity for co-operation among and economic empowerment of women,” she added.

Categories: Central Europe

More international co-operation needed to counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, say speakers at OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 13:42

VIENNA, 17 October 2018 – Greater international co-operation can counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said speakers at today’s meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC), which focused on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 within the OSCE region.

Opening the discussions, Chairperson of the FSC and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the OSCE Ambassador Ulrika Funered said that 2019 will mark 15 years since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 regarding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors.

“We can probably all agree that the Resolution’s implementation remains of the utmost importance and relevance, not least due to the fact that terrorist organizations have continuously shown interest in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, in the case of Daesh, also used them,” she said. “It is my hope that we can use the upcoming anniversary of the Resolution’s adoption to further enhance the OSCE’s work to support its implementation in our region.”

Ambassador Funered added that Sweden, in its current role as Vice-Chair of the 1540 Committee, has consistently underlined the importance of co-operation with regional and sub-regional actors in the implementation of Resolution 1540.

Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Chair of the Governing Board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), former Deputy Secretary-General of the UN and former Foreign Minister of Sweden, noted that Resolution 1540 underlines the importance of implementing the resolution through regional organizations.

“It is evident that proliferation is not a problem reserved for the periphery caused by alien groups with unacceptable ideologies. It is a problem here at home. Europe has a duty, we have a duty, to get our house in order and help each other to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Regional organizations are indispensable assistance providers. We need to seek a balance between internal and external capacity-building within regions in order to be credible. This applies to the OSCE and other regional organizations.”

Ana Hinojosa, Director of the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate at the World Customs Organization, said: “International terrorism organizations use traditional supply chains to support and facilitate their activities, for example the smuggling of armaments and ammunition, or to acquire strategic goods for proliferation of improvised explosive devices or worse. Given this fact, the security of any country, or in this case the European states, is literally only as strong as its weakest link. Reinforcing the capacities within the customs and border agencies in the security arena is an important part of strengthening those links.”

Ali Rached, Policy Analyst at the Counter Terrorism Directorate of INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, provided an overview of the Organization’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and how this supports the implementation of Resolution 1540. He described how INTERPOL’s facilitation of information-sharing and cross-border inter-agency co-operation as well as the Organization’s multilateral and bilateral global partnerships work to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors.

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Categories: Central Europe

Political and electoral participation of persons with disabilities focus of ODIHR-supported regional conference in Serbia

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:54
Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Enhancing the political and electoral participation of persons with disabilities was at thecentre of discussions during a conference co-organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Balkans Independent Disability Framework on 16 and 17 October 2018 in Belgrade.

The event brought together 70 participants (43 women and 27 men), including prominent activists in the field of disability rights, current and former parliamentarians with disabilities, academics, representatives of disabled people’s organizations and experts from other international organizations, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. ODIHR invited practitioners and experts in the field from Latvia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The event helped to raise awareness about the limited participation of persons with disabilities in political and electoral life across the Western Balkan region and identify measures to facilitate more diverse and inclusive democratic institutions and decision-making processes. 

Key topics discussed included co-operation and partnership between persons with disabilities and government institutions, as well as related good practices, challenges and recommendations; inter-parliamentary lobby groups and political parties; the inclusion of women and youth with disabilities in political life; and the right to vote, including methods of advocacy for the implementation of ODIHR election observation recommendations.

“Full and effective participation of persons with disabilities, including women and youth, in all aspects of public and political life is crucial in any democratic society,” said Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah, Chief of the ODIHR Democratic Governance and Gender Unit. “It signifies respect for the human rights of all individuals and ensures that voices of all community members are equally valued and heard.”

Goran Kustura, Secretary-General of the National Council of Slovenian Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, said: “Electoral participation of persons with disabilities is not just about removing barriers and making polling stations and voting materials accessible. These are only the first steps. They should be accompanied by policymaking that includes grassroots movements and umbrella associations, and persons with disabilities themselves administering elections and running for office.”

The event was organized as part of  ODIHR’s projects “Our right to Participate – Promoting the Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Political and Public Life” and “Support to Elections in the Western Balkans”, forming part of the Office’s assistance to the participating States in promoting inclusive democratic societies and following up on ODIHR electoral recommendations. The Support to Elections in the Western Balkans project is funded by the European Unionand the Austrian Development Agency.

Categories: Central Europe

Press Statement of Special Representative of OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sajdik after Meeting of Trilateral Contact Group on 16 October 2018

OSCE - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:23

MINSK, 17 October 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 16 October 2018:

“As you know, in early October, Ukraine prolonged the validity of the law on the special status of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

For my part, I welcome this fact as evidence of Ukraine’s commitment to the Minsk agreements and the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Unfortunately, along with these good news, there are bad ones, too.

In the recent period, the number of ceasefire violations has sharply increased; this inevitably leads to new civilian casualties. You probably already know about the death of two women - a mother and daughter - last week in certain areas of Luhansk region.

In this regard, I once again solemnly urge all the sides to prevent such a development and to show full restraint.

This issue was in the focus of the Security Working Group today. The Group discussed additional measures to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire. It considered as well the issues of disengagement of forces and hardware, and practical steps to implement "humanitarian demining".

The Humanitarian Working Group further considered questions related to the exchange of detainees and the search for missing persons. One of the discussion topics concerned also the possibility to improve crossing conditions at the contact line via entry-exit checkpoints.

The Economic Working Group focused on the issues related to water deliveries in the "Karbonyt" and "Voda Donbasa" supply systems, including further steps to carry out repair works on the South Donbas water pipeline, in Avdiivka’s industrial zone.

The Political Working Group continued working on its regular agenda issues, such as the implementation of the so-called ‘Steinmeier formula’.

Today, the Principal Deputy Head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, participated in our meetings for the last time. He is leaving his position at the end of October. On behalf of all the TCG participants, I would like to express deep gratitude for all his hard work.”

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Categories: Central Europe

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