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Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 19 February 2019

OSCE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:53

This report is for the media and the general public.

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall number of border crossings by persons increased at both BCPs compared to the previous week.

OPERATIONAL REMARKS

The OM is currently operating with 21 permanent international staff members, including the Chief Observer (CO). The Mission is supported administratively by a staff member and the Chief of Fund Administration based in Vienna.

OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS

Persons crossing the border                                                                                                                                                                                        

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

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

The average number of entries/exits increased from 8,342 to 9,124 per day at both BCPs compared to last week[1].

During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to the Russian Federation, with an average net flow of plus 153 per day for both BCPs.

The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP.

Persons in military-style outfits

During the reporting period, the number of persons in military-style outfits noted crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs was eight this week (compared to 23 last week); four of them crossed into the Russian Federation, and four into Ukraine (75 per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP). They continued to cross the border individually or in groups. Most individuals crossed on foot, however, some made use of private vehicles, buses or minivans, making it more difficult for the observer teams (OTs) to observe their movement across the border, especially since some of the private vehicles have tinted windows, and buses and minivans have drawn curtains.

Families with a significant amount of luggage

The OTs continued to report on families crossing the border, sometimes with elderly people and/or children, at both BCPs with a significant amount of luggage, or travelling in heavily loaded cars. During this reporting week, six families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation and three were observed crossing into Ukraine, compared to the previous reporting period when five families were observed crossing into Russian Federation and six into Ukraine.

Bus connections                                         

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

During the reporting period, the OTs observed a decrease in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (327 compared to 352 observed during the previous week). There were 184 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 143 bound for Ukraine.

Among the bus connections observed by the OTs, the following “irregular” route or destination was noted: Luhansk - Sevastopol and Rovenky - Kyiv.

On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses, while some buses do not display their route at all. The majority of long-distance buses commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation have Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region.

Trucks

During the reporting period, the OM observed an increase in the overall number of trucks crossing the border in both directions and at both BCPs. Compared to the previous week, the total number of trucks went from 718 to 739 (216 at the Gukovo BCP and 523 at the Donetsk BCP); 378 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation and 361 crossed into Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, on a daily basis, the OTs also noted trucks registered in Belarus, the Russian Federation and some with “LPR” (sometimes “DPR”) plates.               

Among them, the OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting week, the number of tanker trucks increased to 59 (compared to 43 during the previous reporting period). These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks had hazard signs, indicating that they were transporting propane or a mix of propane and butane.

All trucks undergo systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which may include an X-ray check. Due to the unfavourable observation position at the Gukovo BCP, the OTs continued to be unable to observe any X-ray checks.

Compared to the previous week, the total number of X-ray checks at the Donetsk BCP decreased from 269 to 264: of the total number of trucks scanned, 144 trucks (55 per cent) were bound for Ukraine; the remaining 120 trucks (45 per cent) crossed into the Russian Federation.

Minivans

The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly with Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, the OTs also frequently saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation. Compared to the previous week, the number of cargo minivans increased from 129 to 170 vehicles; 86 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 84 into Ukraine.

Trains

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains running on the railway tracks located approximately 150 metres south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on four occasions, compared to five last week; the OTs assessed that three trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and one to Ukraine (more details are provided on the sections "trends and figure at a glance"). The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine was regularly informed about the trains bound for Ukraine.

Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP.

Other observations

The majority of vehicles crossing the border had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region, or Russian Federation licence plates. A significant number of vehicles with “LPR” plates were also observed crossing the border in both directions on a daily basis.

On 18 February at 14:04, the OT observed one police vehicle that arrived at Donetsk BCP from the Russian Federation. The police vehicle stopped outside the main building and was partly visible to the OT. At 14:25 the same day, the police vehicle left the BCP towards the Russian Federation.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 15 January 2019 to 19 February 2019, please see the attachment here.

[1] Based on data received from the Regional Representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

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

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative reiterates his call on Ukrainian authorities to respect journalists’ right of confidentiality of sources

OSCE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:45

VIENNA, 20 February 2019 – Following the court decision in Kyiv ordering the disclosure of documents of the news portal Novoe Vremya, including the correspondence of one of its journalists, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today reiterated his call on the Ukrainian authorities to respect the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of their sources.

On 4 February, the Pechersky District Court authorized the Prosecutor-General’s Office to access certain documents belonging to the publishing house Media-DK, which owns Novoe Vremya. The court also ordered access to some internal e-mail correspondence between the media outlet and its journalist Ivan Verstyuk. Reportedly, the judicial ruling relates to an alleged breach of the secrecy of a criminal investigation following an article published by Verstyuk in Novoe Vremya in 2016 on a corruption case involving one of the then high-level prosecutors.

“The right of journalists to protect confidential sources is key to free press and investigative journalism,” Désir said. “I call on the authorities to respect this confidentiality, especially when journalists report on issues of public interest.”

Previously, Désir expressed his concern regarding earlier decisions by the authorities forcing journalists to disclose their confidential sources in Ukraine (see https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/392555 and https://twitter.com/OSCE_RFoM/status/1037638069564973057).

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 Media Freedom Representative calls on Azerbaijan to revise state aid system for press and allow for environment favourable to media pluralism

OSCE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:36

VIENNA, 20 February 2019 – Following the recent introduction in Azerbaijan of tighter requirements for print media eligible for state funding, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today called on the authorities to focus efforts on developing a favourable media environment.

According to reports, on 31 January 2019 the Presidential Fund for State Support for the Development of Mass Media changed the eligibility criteria for newspapers to receive public funding, which may effectively cut support for about 20 media outlets that fail to meet the new criteria.

“It is important to support media outlets in their sustainability at a time when they are undergoing significant transformation processes related to digitalization and the adaptation of modern business models,” Désir said. “Such efforts, however, require both a transparent and fair economic system of support to the media and a legal environment enabling pluralistic and independent media. Among other things, this requires the introduction of laws and safeguard mechanisms that will foster media freedom and safety of journalists, transparent competition on the market, equal access to advertisement sources, free flow of information, and unhindered use of the Internet.”

The Representative expressed the readiness of his Office to provide assistance and recommendations in addressing any issues pertinent to media freedom in Azerbaijan, in line with his mandate and OSCE commitments. He also reiterated a strong interest in visiting the country in the near future to meet with high-level officials, journalists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

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 Chairperson-in-Office Lajčák discusses OSCE agenda with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 23:34

MOSCOW, 19 February 2019 – On an official visit as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajčák today met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss various issues on the OSCE agenda.

Minister Lajčák briefed his Russian counterpart on the priorities of the 2019 Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, the workplans in all three dimensions (politico-military, economic and environmental, and human) of comprehensive security, as well as his activities in the first two months, including his visits to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.

On the crisis in and around Ukraine, Minister Lajčák suggested concrete and practical measures he and his team identified to ease the humanitarian consequences of the crisis for the people most affected by it. The two Ministers also discussed the incident in the Azov Sea at the end of 2018, the upcoming Presidential elections in Ukraine and the nomination of short-term election observers from the Russian Federation.

On Moldova, the Ministers both welcomed the momentum achieved in the Transdniestrian Settlement Process; on Georgia Minister Lajčák stressed the importance of unhindered movement across the administrative boundary line; and on Nagorno-Karabakh, the current situation and possible prospects for progress were discussed.

Reiterating the importance of the Russian Federation as a partner in multilateral fora, Minister Lajčák urged his counterpart to engage constructively in the work of the OSCE, as well as in the ongoing negotiations on the Scales of Contribution.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative commends arrests in investigation of attack on Olivera Lakić in Montenegro, calls for justice to be served

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 19:22

VIENNA, 19 February 2019 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir today commended the arrest of nine persons in Montenegro who the police say are part of a criminal gang that is responsible for a series of crimes including the attack on journalist Olivera Lakić on 8 May last year. 

“I commend the arrest of nine persons linked to the attack on Olivera Lakić who was shot in the leg, in Podgorica, in May 2018. It is essential that this attack against the journalist is fully investigated and all those involved brought to justice. Today’s announcement by the authorities of Montenegro that several persons allegedly linked to this crime were arrested is an important step. I welcome it and will continue to closely follow this case until all light is shed on this attack, its motives, and until all those involved including mastermind are convicted and sentenced,” said Désir “There must be no impunity for such attacks on journalists.”

In May 2018 the Representative strongly condemned this attack and called for it to be resolved as soon as possible: www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/380440.

Participants of the OSCE South East Europe Conference also issued a declaration that month on the shooting of Olivera Lakić: www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/380689?download=true

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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 February 2019

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 16:36

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous 24 hours, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM lost a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region.
  • The SMM heard explosions and saw two craters caused by the detonation of explosive devices near its residence in Donetsk city.
  • It saw small-arms fire damage to an apartment building in Dokuchaievsk and to a former kindergarten in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka.  
  • The Mission saw military hardware inside the Zolote disengagement area; an SMM UAV also spotted probable anti-tank mines laid across the road inside the area.
  • It facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to essential civilian infrastructure on both sides of the contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • Restrictions of the Mission’s access continued in all three disengagement areas and elsewhere. It was also restricted at a checkpoint near Verkhnoshyrokivske and at a compound near Donske.*
  • A gathering in Kyiv commemorated those who lost their lives during Maidan-related events in 2014.

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 90 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (about 110 explosions). The highest number of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas south-east of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 70 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (about 200 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including about 40 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds, were recorded in areas south-east and north-east of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk).

SMM loses a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle in Luhansk region

On 18 February, an SMM long-range UAV lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming, while flying over areas near Donetskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km west of Luhansk). About 600m south-east of Berdianka (non-government-controlled, 45km west of Luhansk), the UAV began spinning uncontrollably and losing altitude. The SMM assessed that the UAV had crashed in the area. (See SMM Spot Report 18 February 2019.)*

Explosions in Donetsk city centre

On the morning of 18 February, in non-government-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM heard at least two undetermined explosions (one of which it also saw) approximately 100-150m south-south-east of the SMM’s residence on Pushkina Boulevard. The same day, the SMM saw two fresh craters about 100m and 300m south of its residence. At the location of the first crater, 2m east of a gas distribution station, the Mission observed that four bricks and an extended part of the corrugated roof on the east-facing side of the station were damaged. Near the second crater, about 7-8m north of a residential apartment building at 70 Kobozeva Street, the SMM saw dirt and small holes in the north-facing side of the building, consistent with the dirt and pebbles on the ground. The Mission assessed the damage at both sites as having been caused by detonations of explosive devices without casing (type undetermined). (See SMM Spot Report 18 February 2019.)

Small-arms fire hit an apartment building and a former kindergarten  

On 17 February, at 7/75 Vatutina Street, in a north-western neighbourhood of Dokuchaievsk (non-government-controlled, 30km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw a  hole in the outer window pane and another fresh hole in the inner window pane of a south-facing window on the fifth floor of an inhabited five-storey apartment  building. The SMM also observed glass splinters in between the two panes. It assessed the damage as fresh and caused by small-arms fire.

On 18 February, the SMM saw 11 fresh bullet holes in the north-west- and north-facing sides of a former two-storey kindergarten building on 22/23 Maryny Chumakovoi Street on the eastern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk). The SMM also saw a hole in each of two ground-floor north-west- and north-facing windows. The SMM assessed the damaged as fresh and caused by small-arms fire (probably 5.45mm or 7.62mm in calibre). The director of the kindergarten told the SMM that the building had been hit between 09:00 and 11:00 on 15 February. She added that the kindergarten had not been operational for some time.

Disengagement areas[2]

On 15 February, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted three infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1) inside the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk), assessed as belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces: one about 300m south of the disengagement area’s northern edge and about 1.5km west of its eastern edge another about 500m south of its northern edge and 2km west of its eastern edge, and an additional one about 900m south of its northern edge and 2km east of its western edge.  

The same day, the same UAV spotted for the first time eight probable anti-tank mines (TM-62) (not seen in imagery from January 2019) laid out in two rows of four across road T-1316 inside the disengagement area, about 900m south of its northern edge and about 2km west of its eastern edge. It also spotted about 30 fresh impact craters (assessed as caused by probable 82mm mortar rounds) about 250m east of the area’s western edge and about 450m north of its southern edge.

On the evening of 17 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded five projectiles in flight from west to east at an assessed range of 1-2km south-south-west (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

On 18 February, positioned on the southern-edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka, the SMM heard seven bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire at an assessed range of 3-5km west-north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a calm situation.

Withdrawal of weapons

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

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites:

Non-government-controlled areas

16 February

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), 12 towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), 21 tanks (11 T-64 and ten T-72) and 15 mortars (2B-11 Sani, 120mm) in a training area near Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) and
  • 21 tanks (11 T-64 and ten T-72) in a training area near Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report 25 January 2019 for previous observations in these areas).

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone[3]

Government-controlled areas

15 February

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • an IFV (BMP-1) near Zolote-4/Rodina (59km west of Luhansk).

17 February

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • an IFV (BMD-2) near Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk).

18 February

The SMM saw:

  • two armoured personnel carriers (MT-LB variant) near Netailove (22km north-west of Donetsk),
  • an armoured medical evacuation vehicle (MT-LB S) and three IFVs (BMP-1) in Popasna; and
  • four armoured reconnaissance vehicles (one BRM-1K and three BRDM-2) near Popasna.

Non-government-controlled areas

17 February

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • five IFVs (BMP-1) and six armoured combat vehicles (probable BMP-1) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk).

On 15 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted for the first time a 200m long trench, running from north to south west of Pervomaiske (non-government-controlled, 59km south of Donetsk), assessed as belonging to the armed formations (not visible in imagery from 22 August 2018), reducing the distance between the forward positions of the armed formations and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

On 16 February, an SMM mini-UAV spotted four fresh craters near previously reported positions of the armed formations in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka, assessed as 82mm mortar rounds (direction of fire not determined).

On the same day, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted 13 fresh craters, assessed as impacts of 120mm mortar rounds (direction of fire not determined), in the non-government-controlled southern part of Dolomitne (53km north-east of Donetsk), near previously reported positions of the armed formations and trenches leading to civilian houses.

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable inspection and repair works to water pipelines of the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and to power transmission lines near Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km north-west of Luhansk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk).

Border areas not under government control

While at a border crossing point in Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM observed no cross-border traffic.

Gathering in Kyiv commemorates those who lost their lives during Maidan-related events in 2014

In Kyiv, the SMM observed a pre-announced gathering and prayer service of about 135 people (12-75 years old, mixed gender) around a small chapel at 6 Heroyiv Nebesnoyi Sotni Alley to commemorate those who lost their lives during Maidan-related events in 2014. The SMM saw that some participants wore camouflage clothing with “Right Sector” insignias. The SMM also saw two police cars and four police officers. No incidents were observed.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 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 18 February 2019). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • On two occasions, members of the armed formations denied the SMM passage at a checkpoint about 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (non-government-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol). On the first occasion, a member of the armed formations asked the SMM to provide its patrol plan; when the SMM refused to do so, he denied it access at the checkpoint.
  • Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to a compound near Donske (government-controlled, 57km south of Donetsk).

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.
  • At a checkpoint of the armed formations about 3km south of the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations told the SMM that mines on the road leading north had not been cleared.

Other impediments:

  • On 18 February, an SMM long range-UAV lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming, while flying in areas near Donetskyi.[4] The SMM assessed that the UAV had crashed near Berdianka (non-government-controlled, 45km west of Luhansk) (see above).

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During the reporting period, the SMM cameras in Svitlodarsk and Krasnohorivka were not operational.

[2] Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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

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Categories: Central Europe

Cumhuriyet trial convictions a terrible setback for Turkey, says OSCE Media Freedom Representative, calls for end to criminalization of journalism

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 16:35

VIENNA, 19 February 2019 – Yesterday’s decision to uphold convictions and severe sentences handed down to dozens of Cumhuriyet journalists is a terrible setback and detrimental to Turkey’s commitments to free speech and independent media, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir said today.

“I am deeply alarmed by the decision of a Turkish court to uphold the convictions and harsh sentences against journalists and executives of the newspaper Cumhuriyet. Criminal prosecution of those with differing views violates the fundamental human right to free expression and the country’s OSCE commitments to advance and safeguard free media,” Désir said.

Representative Désir urged the immediate release and dismissal of all charges against these journalists. “Having dissident views or reporting on issues of public interest should not be criminalized. I call on the Turkish government to promptly review the legislative framework which enables such wrongful criminal convictions of journalists, for merely doing their work.”

On 18 February, an Istanbul court upheld a ruling to jail journalists and executives from the newspaper Cumhuriyet. According to the court ruling, many journalists will have to return to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences.

Journalists Kadri Gürsel and Hakan Karasınır were sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment. Cumhuriyet’s lawyer, Bülent Utku was sentenced to two years and four months in prison. The newspaper’s cartoonist Musa Kart was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. The newspaper’s accountant Emre İper was convicted to three years, one month and 15 days in prison. Güray Tekin Öz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, and Önder Çelik were sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

Most of these journalists and media workers have already served some of their sentences in pre-trial detention. However, all but Gürsel and Utku still have remaining time to serve and will have to return to prison.

Several other journalists and media workers, all of them convicted to more than five years in prison, will appeal against their sentences at a higher court.

Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, prominent journalist Ahmet Şık, and Aydın Engin were sentenced to seven years and six months in prison. Hikmet Çetinkaya and Orhan Erinç were sentenced to six years and three months in prison. Akın Atalay was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison.  Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu remains in prison, with a ten-year sentence.

“The accusations against the Cumhuriyet journalists of supporting terrorism are groundless as was demonstrated in previous hearings,” Désir said. “These journalists have been convicted for what is their fundamental human right: for reporting, expressing their view, investigating on issues of public interest, in a word for doing their work. I call on Turkey to reverse the sentences and to respect the freedom of the media.”

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has followed the Cumhuriyet trials closely. See his previous statements here: www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/378883; www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/375619; www.osce.org/fom/219021.

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 to launch report on violence against women and girls living in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, in Brussels on 6 March

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:43

VIENNA, 19 February 2019 – The OSCE will publish the results of a large-scale survey on violence against women and girls living in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, in Brussels on 6 March 2019.

The survey results are based on interviews with 15,179 women and girls. It is aimed at providing high-quality research and data to increase the understanding of women’s experience of violence in conflict and non-conflict situations. The report gives a unique insight into the prevalence and consequences of violence against women and into persistent harmful norms and attitudes in the region.

The survey covers seven OSCE participating States: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine. The research was also conducted in Kosovo.[1]

The report will be presented by OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, and the European Union External Action Service’s Principal Advisor on Gender and on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, Mara Marinaki.

Media will also have the opportunity to interview some NGO and governmental representatives from the regions covered by the research.

This project was supported by the European Commission, the United Nations Population Fund, UN Women and UNICEF, as well as by the governments of Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United States of America, Italy, Austria and Finland.

Media representatives are invited to cover the event from 10:00 a.m. onwards on 6 March 2019 in the Strasbourg and Luxembourg room, Copernico Science 14, 14b Rue de la Science, 1040 Brussels.

Those wishing to attend are kindly asked to register by sending an email to press@osce.org by 12:00 noon, Friday, 1 March 2019.

[1] All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro donates servers and software for electoral data processing to State Election Commission

OSCE - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 09:07
411815 Marina Živaljević

On 18 February 2019 in Podgorica, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro handed over to the State Election Commission software developed to process electoral data along with IT equipment. This marks the completion of a two-year project, providing technical assistance to the State Election Commission (SEC).

“The project, worth over €170,000, embedded two international electoral experts to provide advice to the SEC and commissioned the development of software for electoral data processing,” said Daviet. “Our technical support included upgrading and standardization of SEC’s websites as well as the procurement of IT equipment A modern and sophisticated software will help administer elections in a more simple, efficient and transparent manner.”

The acting Chair of the SEC, Mersudin Dautović thanked the Mission for the support provided, improving SEC’s capacities as well as invaluable staff training. He said that this support is of great importance and comes at the right time to enable the SEC to respond to its obligations in an efficient way. “The application will improve the capacity of the SEC and will enable citizens to be informed of the election results in real time.”

This project was the result of strategic and financial support from some participating states: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The OSCE Mission to Montenegro remains committed to working with the State Election Commission to improve its transparency and public trust.

Categories: Central Europe

Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM): SMM loses long-range unmanned aerial vehicle near Berdianka

OSCE - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 22:11

This report is for the media and the general public.

Between 13:27 and 13:38 hrs, 18 February, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) experienced dual GPS jamming while flying at an altitude of approximately 6,000ft in an area near Donetskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km west of Luhansk), in proximity of the contact line.

At 13:38 hrs, about 600m south-east of Berdianka (non-government-controlled, 45km west of Luhansk), the UAV began spinning uncontrollably and losing altitude. The SMM assessed that the UAV had crashed in the area.

The SMM flew a mini-UAV near Berdianka, but could not locate the long-range UAV. The Mission will continue to follow up.

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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, 17 February 2019

OSCE - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 20:45

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk regions.
  • Compared with the previous 24 hours, between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region.
  • The SMM saw gunfire damage to residential properties in Yasynuvata and a destroyed house in Novoluhanske. 
  • It saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Luhansk region.
  • The Mission recorded ceasefire violations inside and near the Zolote disengagement area, and military hardware and personnel inside the Petrivske disengagement area.
  • It heard small-arms fire assessed as aimed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle near non-government-controlled Zhovte, Luhansk region.
  • The SMM saw an aircraft flying over non-government-controlled areas in the security zone.
  • It facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to essential civilian infrastructure.
  • Restrictions of the Mission’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. It was also restricted near Zaichenko and near Izvaryne, an area close to the border with the Russian Federation*
  • The Mission continued to observe hardship faced by civilians at checkpoints.
  • The SMM observed a public gathering against parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church changing affiliation in Storozhynets, Chernivtsi region.
  • It observed public gatherings in Kyiv, including commemorations of recent events in eastern Ukraine.

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 190 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 160 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at south-easterly directions of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol); at south-easterly, south-westerly and north-easterly directions of Svitlodarsk; and at southerly directions of the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk).

Between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 110 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at south-easterly directions of Chermalyk, near Lebedynske (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Mariupol) and at southerly directions of the DFS.

In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 15 and 16 February, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 130 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (210 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas east-south-east, south-south-east and north-west of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) and inside the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk).

Between the evenings of 16 and 17 February, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 200 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas north-east and west of Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), west-south-west of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km north-west of Luhansk), as well as east-south-east and south of Popasna.

Fresh gunfire damage in residential areas of Yasynuvata

On 16 February, in a residential area in north-western Yasynuvata (non-government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM, accompanied by two members of the armed formations, saw a fresh impact (6cm hole) in the west-facing wall of a single storey house at 18/3 Hoholia Street. The owner (woman, 60-70 years old) told the SMM that she had heard an impact on 15 February at about 14:00 while she had been inside the house with two other people, including her son who was at the door near to the impact. The SMM assessed that the above damage was caused by projectiles from a probable infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP variant) fired from a westerly direction. At 45 Hoholia Street, the SMM saw repairs (two 30-40cm patches of fresh roofing) on the west and east-facing sides on the roof of a single storey house. The owner (woman, 40-50 years old) told the SMM that she and two other adults were inside the house when she had heard an impact to the roof at about 14:20 on 15 February. Due to the repairs, the SMM could not assess the cause of the damage.

About 200m south-east of 45 Hoholia Street, at 29 Ivana Franka Street, the SMM saw a fresh impact (15-20cm hole) in the lower part of a west-south-west facing fence, 3-4m from a currently uninhabited two-storey house, assessed as caused by a projectile from an IFV (BMP-1) fired from a westerly direction. The SMM also saw a west-south-west facing window with partially broken glass on the second storey of the house, assessed as likely caused by shrapnel from the above-mentioned projectile. 

Destroyed residential building in Novoluhanske

On 15 February, in a residential area of south-eastern Novoluhanske (government-controlled, 53km north-east of Donetsk), an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a residential building in rubble, with the walls assessed as blown outwards in all directions. A broken triangular-shaped overhang was observed on the north-west corner of the roof of an adjacent non-residential building (damage to both buildings was not visible in imagery from 3 November 2018). The SMM could not assess the cause of the above-mentioned damage.

Small-arms fire assessed as aimed at an SMM mini-UAV near Zhovte

On 17 February, while stationary about 6km south-west of Zhovte (non-government-controlled, 17km north-west of Luhansk), conducting a mini-UAV flight, the SMM heard two bursts and one shot of small-arms fire at an assessed distance of 1.3km west-north-west of its position, assessed as aimed at the UAV. The SMM UAV received minor damage from the emergency landing and the patrol retrieved it and left the area immediately.

Aircraft seen flying in the security zone over non-government-controlled areas

At 10:00 on 15 February, while positioned in the south-western outskirts of Starobesheve (non-government-controlled, 32km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw a flying object south-east of its location flying from south-west to north-east. Based on hand-held imagery, the SMM assessed it as a swept wing four-engine turbo-prop aircraft (likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142). From 10:50-11:10, positioned in an area north-west of Liubivka (formerly Leninske, non-government-controlled, 43km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw an aircraft (likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142) east of its location flying from north to south and back again.

Disengagement areas[2]

On the evening of 15 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded 11 projectiles in flight (from north-east to south-west) at an assessed range of 2-4km south-east, assessed as inside the Zolote disengagement area. During the day on 16 February, positioned near the checkpoint of the armed formations on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 40 bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 2-3km west-north-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area.   

On the evening of 16 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded a projectile in flight from east to west at an assessed range of 4-5km south-south-east, assessed as inside the Zolote disengagement area. During the day on 17 February, the same camera recorded an undetermined explosion at an assessed range of 2-4km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.  

During the day on 17 February, positioned on the western edge of Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 2-4km south-south-west, assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area. 

The same day, positioned on the southern edge of Zolote-5/Mykhailivka (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 3-4km west-south-west, assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area.

On 15 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an armoured combat vehicle (type undetermined) inside the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk) about 1km north of its southern edge and about 2km east of its western edge. Also inside the disengagement area the same UAV spotted three people, assessed as soldiers, close to defensive positions and flags of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; one in the north-central part and one in the north-western part of the disengagement area.

During the day on 16 and 17 February, positioned inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), and north of the disengagement area near Petrivske, the SMM observed calm situations.[3]

Withdrawal of weapons

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

Weapons in violation of withdrawal lines:

Government-controlled areas

17 February

The SMM saw:

  • nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) and
  • three multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Verkhnobohdanivka (54km north of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites:

Government-controlled areas

15 February

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • five tanks (T-72) near Druzhne (63km south of Donetsk).

Weapons that the SMM could not verify as withdrawn: [4]

At heavy weapons holding areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Luhansk region

17 February

The SMM observed that 40 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and 20 MLRS (BM-21) remained missing.

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone[5]

Non-government-controlled areas

15 February

An SMM mid-range UAV spotted:

  • two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (BTR-80) south-east of Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol).

Government-controlled areas

15 February

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • a probable IFV (BMP-1 or BMP-2) in Ocheretyne (31km north-west of Donetsk) and
  • an APC (MT-LB S) ambulance, an armoured combat vehicle (type undetermined) and an IFV (BMP-1 or BMP-2) near Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk).

16 February

The SMM saw:

  • an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM variant) in Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk)

Presence of mines

On 15 February, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted at least seven anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid out across road M-14 near Shyrokyne (government-controlled, 20km east of Mariupol), as well as 12 anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid out on the same road south of Sakhanka, and west of Bezimenne (non-government-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol).

Hardship for civilians at entry-exit checkpoints

Between 8:30-9:30 on 16 February, at the checkpoint of the armed formations near Kreminets (non-government-controlled, 16km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw over 100 vehicles queuing to travel towards government-controlled areas, but only one processing booth for vehicles being open. A group of five men (40-70 years old) and one woman (30-40 years old) told the SMM that they had started queuing between 02:00 and 04:00 that morning.

On the same day, at the entry-exit checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, medical staff at an emergency shelter of an international organization told the SMM that 35-40 people had been treated that day, mostly for high/low blood pressure and fainting while in the queue. At the checkpoint of the armed formations south of the bridge, a woman (50 years old) told the SMM that she travels once a month with her parents (both about 80 years old), with her father confined to a wheelchair, to collect their pensions.

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

On 16 February, the SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable inspection and repair works of water transmission lines for the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and monitored the overall security situation in the area of the pumping station in Vasylivka (non-government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk). On 16 and 17 February, the Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS.

Border areas outside of government control

On 17 February, while at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) for about 25 minutes, the SMM saw eight pedestrians exiting Ukraine and two pedestrians entering Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw 14 covered cargo trucks (eight with Ukrainian licence plates and six with “LPR” plates) and 22 cars (13 with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates, and four with “LPR” plates) exiting Ukraine. During the same time, the SMM saw four vehicles (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “LPR” plates), a covered cargo truck (with Ukrainian licence plates), a bus with Ukrainian licence plates and eight pedestrians (five women and three men, 35-50 years old) entering Ukraine. After seven minutes, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.*

While at a pedestrian border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) for about 30 minutes, the SMM saw six pedestrians exiting Ukraine and four pedestrians entering Ukraine. 

While at a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about an hour and 15 minutes, the SMM saw 29 cars (six with Ukrainian, five with Russian Federation and four with Lithuanian licence plates, and 14 with “DPR” plates), eight pedestrians, two covered cargo trucks (one with Belarus licence plates and one with “DPR” plates), two tanker trucks (one with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) and one bus with “DPR” plates entering Ukraine. During the same time, the SMM saw 31 cars (five with Ukrainian, 11 with Russian Federation, three with Georgian and one with Lithuanian licence plates, and 11 with “DPR” plates), 32 covered cargo trucks (20 with Ukrainian licence plates and 12 with “DPR” plates), a tanker truck with “DPR” plates and two buses with “DPR” plates exiting Ukraine. 

Public gathering against Ukrainian Orthodox Church parishes changing affiliation

In Storozhynets (22km south-west of Chernivtsi), the SMM observed a gathering and prayer service of up to 600 people (20-60 years old, 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women), including 20 priests, in front of the Saint George Ukrainian Orthodox Church and in the central square of Storozhynets in front of the District State Administration building. Some participants held banners against the change of church affiliation to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The SMM saw about 50 police officers present and a calm situation (for similar observations in Chernivtsi see SMM Daily Report 8 February 2019).

Public gatherings in Kyiv

On 16 February, the SMM saw about 1,000 young people (65 per cent men and 35 per cent women) in Independence Square gathered for a march organized by Sokil, the youth wing of the Svoboda political party to mark its 125th anniversary of the organization. Most participants carried torches and some held Sokil flags. The SMM saw participants march from the square to Svyatoshin District Court of Kyiv at 142 Zhylianska Street, where some gave speeches and others held pictures of former members of Sokil deceased in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014 (mostly young men). The SMM saw about 44 dialogue police officers and six police officers present. No incidents were observed.

On 16 and 17 February, the SMM observed two gatherings in Kyiv commemorating battles in eastern Ukraine in 2015. On 16 February, the SMM saw 130 boys and men (16-60 years old) at Sofiyivska Square, commemorating 2015 events in Shyrokyne and other areas near Mariupol. Some participants wore military-style clothing with Natsionalny Druzhyny and Azov insignia and chanted “Azov” and “Glory to Ukraine”. The SMM saw five police officers present. The next day, the SMM saw about 90 people (30-50 years old, 95 per cent men) marching from Kyiv City Hall at 36 Kreshchatyk Street to Sofiyivska Square, in commemoration of  Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers who had been killed and wounded in Debaltseve in February 2015. About half the participants wore military-style clothing, and some held banners and flags, including Ukrainian and red-and-black flags. The SMM saw two police officers accompanying the march. No incidents were observed at both gatherings.

The Mission continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, 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, 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 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 below). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • On 16 and 17 February, two armed members of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint north of Zaichenko (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol) after the Mission refused to show its patrol plan. These denials prevented the SMM from travelling south to Sakhanka and west to Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol). While present on 16 February, the SMM saw a civilian car pass through the checkpoint towards Pikuzy.
  • On 17 February, at a border crossing point near Izvaryne (non-government-controlled, 52km south-east of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations again told the SMM to leave the area.

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.

Other impediments:

  • On 15 February, an SMM long range-UAV lost its GPS signal, assessed as due to jamming, while flying over government and non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region.[6]

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During the reporting period, the SMM cameras in Svitlodarsk and Krasnohorivka were not operational.

[2] Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] Due to the presence of mines, including 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.

[4] The SMM visited areas previously holding weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The SMM noted that two such sites continued to be abandoned.

[5] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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

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Categories: Central Europe

Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM): Explosions occur in Donetsk city centre

OSCE - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 18:44

This report is for the media and the general public.

At about 08:00 on the morning of 18 February in non-government-controlled Donetsk city, while standing in front of the Mission’s residence on Pushkina Boulevard, two SMM staff members heard at least two explosions approximately 100-150 metres south-south-east. Other SMM personnel were in the residence. Nobody was injured.

Later, the SMM saw two fresh craters (about 70cm in diameter) in the area, about 100m and 300m south of the SMM’s residence. At the location of the first crater, 2m east of a gas distribution station (west of Pushkina Boulevard), the Mission observed that four bricks on the east-facing side of the station and an extended part of the corrugated roof on the same side were damaged. At the second crater, about 7-8m north of a residential apartment building at 70 Kobozeva Street, the SMM saw dirt and small holes on the north-facing side of the building, consistent with the dirt and pebbles on the ground. The Mission assessed the damage at both sites as having been caused by the detonation of explosive devices without casing (type undetermined).

The SMM noted no significant changes in the general security situation in the city.

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Categories: Central Europe

Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to address OSCE meeting on lessons learned from conflict resolution in Vienna on Wednesday

OSCE - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 13:24

VIENNA, 18 February 2019 - Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, will address a joint meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation and the Permanent Council in Vienna on Wednesday, 20 February. Media representatives are invited to cover Ahern’s address which will focus on lessons learned from conflict resolution, drawing on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as a case study.

Ahern, who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1997 to 2008, will reflect on his experience in achieving peace in Northern Ireland through “inclusive dialogue” and highlight the conditions that made progress in the peace process possible.

Media representatives wishing to cover the address must register by sending an e-mail to press@osce.org, by 17:00, Tuesday, 19 February.

The address will begin at 10:00 on Wednesday, 20 February in the Neuer Saal (second floor) of the Hofburg Conference Centre, Vienna (entrance through Heldenplatz). Attending media representatives should bring a valid press card and allow time for a security check.

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Categories: Central Europe

Dialogue, co-operation and multilateralism only way to safer future say OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Secretary General at Munich Security Conference

OSCE - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 22:32

MUNICH, Germany, 17 February 2019 – At the Munich Security Conference, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia Miroslav Lajčák and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, both stressed that no single country can tackle today’s security challenges alone. Dialogue, co-operation and multilateralism are the only way to a safer future they reiterated, a message shared by many participants of this leading global gathering that focuses on security policy as well as current and future security challenges.

On the agenda for the 2019 conference were discussions on the future of the European Union; trade and international security; arms control; technological innovation; climate change; and the consequences of shifting power between China, Russia and the United States.

While in Munich, Lajčák met with government representatives from around the world to brief them on his priorities for the OSCE in 2018, including preventing and resolving conflict, a safer future, and effective multilateralism. He also discussed current developments, as well as peace and security challenges.

His meetings included Milo Đukanović, President of Montenegro; Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia; Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Chyngyz Aidarbekov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic; George Camba, Minister Delegate for European Affairs of Romania; Fiona Hill, Special Assistant to the President of the United States of America and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs; and Melanne Verveer, the Chair’s OSCE Special Representative on Gender.

OSCE Secretary General Greminger had a number of meetings with representatives of international organizations and government officials including with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the first Under-Secretary for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov, Foreign Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland and the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.

He also took part in the high-level discussion on Security in Eastern Europe where he highlighted the unique role of the OSCE as a regional platform for dialogue.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Miroslav Lajčák meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin

OSCE - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 21:00

BRUSSELS, 17 February 2019 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia Miroslav Lajčák met today with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin ahead of tomorrow’s discussion on Ukraine at the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Following up on his visit to Ukraine earlier this year, Minister Lajčák suggested a range of concrete measures to ease the humanitarian consequences of the crisis in and around Ukraine for the people most affected by it. “These small but very concrete proposals would make a real difference for the people on the ground,” he stressed.

Minister Lajčák once again reiterated his deep regret about the decision of the Ukrainian authorities, which de-facto denies accreditation to ODIHR’s international observers with passports from the Russian Federation.

“Our Heads of State have all committed to invite observers from other participating States that wish to observe our elections, including through ODIHR,” the Chairperson-in-Office said. “I remain convinced that not accepting accreditation for all ODIHR’s observers is not in line with the OSCE commitments and therefore not in the best interest of the OSCE, Ukraine or its people.”

“As helping to resolve the crisis in and around Ukraine is a key priority for our Chairmanship, we count on Ukraine’s constructive engagement with the OSCE,” Lajčák said.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office intends to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine, along with other issues, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week in Moscow.

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 February 2019

OSCE - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 19:07

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region.
  • The SMM observed damage in Kruta Hora and Pikuzy as a result of shelling.
  • The Mission saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines near non-government-controlled Khoroshe, Lobacheve and Pervomaisk.
  • The Mission recorded ceasefire violations inside and near the Zolote disengagement area. It observed damage as a result of shelling in residential areas near the Zolote disengagement area. Members of the armed formations fired 10m away from an SMM patrol at an SMM UAV flying over the Zolote disengagement area.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable the operation of essential civilian infrastructure in Donetsk region.
  • Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued in all three disengagement areas and again near non-government-controlled Novoazovsk, Oleksandrivske and Verkhnoshyrokivske.*

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 160 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 550 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas south-east, south-south-east and south of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol), while the majority of explosions were recorded in the areas around the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) (15km north of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including 210 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at directions ranging from east to south of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk).

On the morning of 15 February, positioned near a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on the eastern edge of Popasna, the SMM heard 20-50 shots of small-arms fire at an assessed distance of 200m north-east.

Damage in Kruta Hora and Pikuzy as a result of shelling

On 15 February, in Kruta Hora (non-government-controlled, 16km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed an impact crater about 20m north of a one-storey house about 50m from the main street through the village. The SMM could not assess the calibre of weapon or the freshness of the crater, but assessed that the direction of fire was northerly. A female resident of the house (in her seventies) told the SMM that she had been at home on 6 February when shelling had caused the impact. The woman and another local resident (man in his seventies) separately told the SMM that there had been shelling in the area on the evening of 6 February and that as a result the village had been without electricity for three days.

On 14 February, on a dirt road about 220m north-west of Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a recent impact crater, which was about 220m north-west of houses on the edge of the settlement. The same UAV spotted another fresh impact crater near a position of the armed formations in a field about 800m south-west of Pikuzy. The SMM assessed that the impacts were caused by artillery rounds but could not determine calibre or direction of fire.

On 15 February, the SMM observed that a shop on Pobeda Street in the central part of Pikuzy had been destroyed: the tin roof had collapsed, all of the windows were shattered and the interior of the shop was burnt out. The SMM could not make further assessments due to security considerations. A local resident (a woman in her fifties) told the SMM that the area had been shelled on the morning of 13 February. On 13 and 14 February, the SMM had been prevented by members of the armed formations from accessing Pikuzy (see SMM Daily Report 14 February 2019 and SMM Daily Report 15 February 2019).

Disengagement areas[2]

On 14 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) in a compound, assessed as belonging to the armed formations, inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) about 600m south-west of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk).

On 14 February, inside the disengagement area near Zolote, an SMM mini-UAV spotted a stationary infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP variant), assessed as belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, about 900m south of its northern edge and about 1.8km east of its western edge (for previous observations, see SMM Daily Report 6 February 2019) .

On 14 February, in Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk), an SMM mini-UAV spotted two missing roof tiles on the south-eastern part of the roof of a house located about 850m west of the Zolote disengagement area (not visible in imagery from 5 November 2018). Analysis of additional SMM imagery revealed fresh probable shrapnel damage to the front yard and south-east facing fence and corner of the porch. The SMM assessed the damage as caused by a 120mm mortar round. The UAV also spotted four Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers standing in front of the house.

On 14 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted a recent impact crater, assessed as caused by a probable 120mm mortar round, in between residential homes in Zolote-5/ Mykhailivika (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), about 850m east of the Zolote disengagement area. The same UAV spotted 22 recent impact craters, assessed as caused by probable 82mm mortar rounds, near positions of the armed formations in a field north-east of Molodizhne (non-government-controlled, 63km west of Luhansk).

On 14 February, an SMM long-range UAV spotted 15 impact craters surrounding positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, assessed as likely recent and caused by 82mm mortar rounds, about 300m north of the Zolote disengagement area.

During the evening of 14 February, the SMM camera in Zolote recorded eight projectiles in flight at an assessed range of 1.5-3km south-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area) and three projectiles at an assessed range of 1.5-3km east (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

Armed formations members fire 10m away from an SMM patrol at an SMM UAV flying over the Zolote disengagement area

On 15 February, while positioned at a checkpoint of the armed formations on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM informed members of the armed formations present that an SMM mid-range UAV was flying in the area, operated by the SMM from a different location. The SMM observed five members of the armed formations standing at the same checkpoint, about 10m from the SMM, each aim an assault rifle at a UAV that was flying south of the checkpoint at an altitude of about 300m, and fire about 60 shots in total in its direction. The SMM informed the members of the armed formations that it was an SMM UAV and the members of the armed formations stopped shooting. The SMM left the area of the checkpoint. The SMM UAV was not damaged.

The same day, positioned north of the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk) and inside the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, the SMM observed calm situations.[3]

Withdrawal of weapons

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

Non-government-controlled area

14 February

An SMM mini-UAV spotted:

  • a tank (T-64) in a compound near Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk).

An SMM long-range spotted:

  • three tanks (T-64) near Lobacheve (13km east of Luhansk).

15 February

The SMM saw:

  • a tank (T-64) and an anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in Pervomaisk. 

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

15 February

The SMM saw:

  • a tank (T-64) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S5 Giatsint-S, 152mm) near a railway station in Zachativka (74km south-west of Donetsk).

Weapons that the SMM could not verify as withdrawn

At heavy weapons holding areas in government-controlled areas of Luhansk region[4]

15 February

The SMM noted that:

  • four anti-tank guns (MT-12) were present and
  • 32 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and 14 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) remained missing.

Weapons storage sites for weapons the SMM has verified as withdrawn

At a heavy weapons permanent storage site beyond the respective withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region

15 February:

The SMM noted that:

  •  seven towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) remained missing.

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone[5]

Government-controlled areas

14 February

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • a fire control vehicle (MT-LB, 1VXX-variant) near Novoselivka (31km north-east of Donetsk);
  • four IFVs (BMD-1 or BMD-2) near Heivka (27km north-west of Luhansk);
  • an IFV (BMP variant) near Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk); and
  • two armoured combat vehicles (ACV) (type undetermined) near Krymske (42km north-west of Luhansk).

15 February:

The SMM saw:

  • an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a truck west of Kriakivka (38km north-west of Luhansk) and
  • an IFV (BMP variant) east of Zolote-2/Karbonit (62km west of Luhansk).

Non-government-controlled areas

14 February

An SMM mini-UAV again spotted:

  • an IFV (BMP-1) and a trench digger (TMK-2) near Khoroshe and
  • two ACVs (undetermined variant) on the north-eastern edge of Pervomaisk.

An SMM long-range UAV spotted:

  • an IFV (probable BMP-1) near Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk) and
  • an armoured personnel carrier (MT-LB M) with a mounted anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk).

15 February:

The SMM saw:

  • an IFV (BMP-1) north-east of Sentianivka (formerly Frunze, 44km west of Luhansk) and
  • an IFV (BMP-1) in Pervomaisk and an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a military truck near Pervomaisk.

Presence of mines

On 14 February, an SMM mid-range UAV again spotted 11 anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid in two rows across road T0519 on the western edge of Pikuzy. Near Vodiane (government-controlled, 94km south of Donetsk), the same UAV again spotted nine anti-tank mines (TM-62) laid out in a row across a road leading from Vodiane to Pikuzy.

SMM facilitation of the operation of essential civilian infrastructure

The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the DFS and to monitor the overall security situation in the area of the pumping station in Vasylivka (non-government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk).

Border areas outside of Government control

At a border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about 15 minutes, the SMM did not observe any traffic or pedestrians crossing the border.

At a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 70 minutes, the SMM saw 18 cars (five with Ukrainian, five with Russian Federation and two with Lithuanian licence plates and six with “DPR” plates), four closed trailer trucks (two with Ukrainian licence plates and two with “DPR” plates), a milk tanker (with Ukrainian licence plates), two mini-busses (both with Russian Federation licence plates) and two buses (one with Ukrainian licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine. The SMM also observed 29 cars (11 with Ukrainian, ten with Russian Federation and two with Georgian licence plates and six with “DPR” plates), 11 closed trailer trucks (three with Ukrainian and four with Russian Federation licence plates and four with “DPR” plates), three mini-buses (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates and one with “DPR” plates) and two buses (both with “DPR” plates) exiting Ukraine.

The Mission continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 12 February 2019). 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

  • An armed member of the armed formations denied the SMM passage east at a checkpoint of the armed formations on the eastern edge of Oleksandrivske (formerly Rozy Liuksemburh, non-government-controlled, 90km south-east of Donetsk) due to an “on-going military exercise”.
  • Three armed members of the armed formations denied the SMM passage east, south or west at a checkpoint of the armed formations on the northern edge of Novoazovsk (non-government-controlled, 40km east of Mariupol), citing “on-going operations” in the area. The SMM observed civilian vehicles crossing the checkpoint in all directions. 

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.
  • At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC told the SMM that there had been no demining in the area.

Delay:

  • At a checkpoint of the armed formations about 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol), two armed members of the armed formations prevented the SMM from crossing the checkpoint for 23 minutes, at which time it was permitted to cross.

Other impediments:

  • While an SMM mid-range UAV was flying in the Zolote disengagement area, members of the armed formations fired in the direction of the UAV at a distance of 10m from an SMM patrol present in the area. The SMM left the area immediately.

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During the reporting period, the SMM camera in Svitlodarsk was not operational.

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

[2]Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] Due to the presence of mines, including 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.

[4] The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The SMM noted that two such sites continued to be abandoned.

[5] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative Désir and Head of Mission Berton condemn threats against journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina

OSCE - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 16:01

VIENNA/SARAJEVO, 15 February 2019 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, and the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bruce G. Berton, today condemned several threats made against journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Earlier this month, Editor-in-Chief of a Public Service Broadcaster (BHRT) news program, Marko Radoja, received a letter with threatening messages including threats to his life.

According to media reports, Adnan Jašarspahić, an FTV journalist and owner of online portal Visoko.co.ba filed charges against two persons connected to a local politician,  for threatening him on social media.

In addition, journalist Milkica Milojević, from the daily newspaper EuroBlic in Banja Luka received threats over the phone. Reportedly, a police investigation into this case has already been launched.

“These threats against journalists are unacceptable and must be condemned at the highest level. Authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must increase their efforts to guarantee safe working conditions for media professionals,” Désir said, expressing hope that all threats will be duly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

“It is clear that threats and incidents involving journalists have intensified, even since the beginning of the year, which is a worrying trend. The authorities must take all necessary measures to create an environment that enables a truly free and independent media and to end intimidation of journalists. It is unacceptable that journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina face violence and intimidation for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression, a right that is essential for democracy.  All incidences must be thoroughly investigated,” Berton said.

“For the democratic development of the country it is of paramount importance to make sure that safety of journalists is ensured at all times and that impunity not become common place,” Désir said.

The Representative recalled the need for States to fully respect the OSCE Ministerial Council decision on Safety of journalists, adopted last December in Milan.

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Categories: Central Europe

At meeting on scales of contributions, OSCE Chairmanship’s Special Representative Parízek calls on States to translate words into concrete action

OSCE - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:23

VIENNA, 15 February 2019 – At today’s second meeting of the Informal Working Group on Scales of Contributions of the OSCE, Special Representative of the Chairmanship Slovak State Secretary Lukáš Parízek, who chairs the Group, urged all participating States to focus above all else on management and finances of the OSCE.

Re-confirming Slovakia’s commitment to the OSCE Chairmanship, and to the sense of responsibility and respect that comes with the role of assuring the Organization’s good functioning, Parízek stated: “Slovakia took up the OSCE Chairmanship with humility, but also determination from the very beginning. We are ready to listen and to address all sensitive issues raised by the participating States.”

He continued by encouraging compromise and reminded all States that “putting the OSCE on a sound financial footing is a step the international community should be willing to take today.”

“The Chairmanship will not spare any efforts in finding a solution to the serious challenges we face today and which jeopardize the work of the OSCE and divert our attention from the core security issues we need to tackle,” he stressed.

Acknowledging that the issue of the expired OSCE Scales of Contributions is a long-overdue, contentious and polarizing topic, the Chair of the Informal Working Group asked all participating States to look forward instead of backwards and “translate verbal expressions of support for the OSCE into concrete steps of action.”

The OSCE Informal Working Group on Scales of Contributions aims to reach consensus on the long-standing and sensitive issue of the expired Scales of Contributions, which will define how much each of the 57 participating States annually pays for the Organization for the coming years.

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 14 February 2019

OSCE - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:38

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines near government-controlled Krasnohorivka and Kapitanove.
  • The Mission recorded a ceasefire violation near the Zolote disengagement area.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to and operation of essential civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued in all three disengagement areas and again near non-government-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske and Zaichenko.*

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 550 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 170 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas south-east and south-south-east of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol), near Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk) and near Avdiivka (government-controlled, 17km north of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (seven explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in non-government-controlled areas south-south-east of Vilkhove (government-controlled, 22km north-east of Luhansk) and at north-easterly directions of Holubivske (non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk).

Disengagement areas[2]

During the day on 14 February, positioned in Zolote-3/Stakhanovets (government-controlled, 61km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion at an assessed range of 1-2km south-east (unable to assess whether inside or outside the Zolote disengagement area).

The same day, positioned north of the disengagement area near Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk) and inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a calm situation.[3]

Withdrawal of weapons

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

Government-controlled areas

14 February

The SMM saw:

  • a surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) heading south near Krasnohorivka (24km north of Donetsk) and
  • a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) travelling south near Kapitanove (49km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Non-government-controlled areas

13 February

An SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle spotted:

  • 33 tanks (24 T-72 and nine T-64) in a training area near Ternove (15km south-east of Luhansk).

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone[4]

Government-controlled areas

14 February

The SMM saw:

  • two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-1) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk);
  • three IFVs (two BMP-1 and a BMP variant) near Zolote (60km west of Luhansk);
  • an armoured personnel carrier (Saxon) near Voitove (33km north-west of Luhansk); and
  • two armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) in Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk).

SMM facilitation of repair works to civilian infrastructure

The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to a water pipeline near Donetskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km west of Luhansk) and maintenance works to power lines in Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk) and to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk). A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and a representative of the Luhansk Energy Association told the SMM that the maintenance works in Katerynivka had been suspended due to ceasefire violations in the area (the Mission heard an undetermined explosion in the area). The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk).

On 14 February, the SMM observed seven mine hazard signs around a compound in Amvrosiivka (non-government controlled, 56 km south-east of Donetsk).

The Mission continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 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 12 February 2019). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access

  • On two occasions, armed members of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol), citing “ongoing special operations” both times (the SMM was subsequently able to cross the checkpoint and enter the village on the third attempt).
  • Three members of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint north of Zaichenko (non-government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol) after the Mission refused to show its patrol plan. This denial prevented the SMM from travelling to Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol) and Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol).

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During the reporting period, the SMM camera in Svitlodarsk was not operational.

[2]Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] Due to the presence of mines, including 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.

[4] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE/ODIHR trains Armenian police on human rights-compliant policing of assemblies

OSCE - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:06
Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Protecting and promoting human rights while policing assemblies, as well as police accountability, were the focus of a three-day training course organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) from 13 to 15 February 2019 in Yerevan.

The training event brought together 28 representatives (22 men and 6 women) of police departments from the city of Yerevan, five of the country’s provinces, as well as the Police Academy of Armenia.

Participants in the interactive workshop explored human rights standards and internationally recognized good practices in assembly policing, drawing on real-life examples.

“It is an obligation of each OSCE participating State to uphold everyone’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Anita Danka, ODIHR Human Rights Adviser and a trainer at the course. “This means that the police have a positive duty to facilitate peaceful assemblies without discrimination. ODIHR has built up vast expertise in this area by monitoring the enjoyment of freedom of peaceful assembly in the OSCE region and developing tools to support the work of legislators, policymakers, law enforcement officers and independent observers.”

Colonel Vladimir Avagimyan, Associate Professor at the Police Academy’s Faculty of Law, said: “The protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens is the most important principle of work of democratic police forces. Therefore, this training and, in particular, an opportunity to look at the work of police during peaceful assemblies through the lens of international human right law and best practices of other democratic states was very useful for Armenian police officers. We can share the knowledge obtained at the training with our colleagues already responsible for facilitating assemblies, as well as with police cadets.”

ODIHR has previously conducted similar training sessions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Poland and Ukraine.

Categories: Central Europe

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