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Latest news from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) based on information received until 18:00 hrs, 28 May (Kyiv time)
30 May 2014 03:26

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Clashes in Donetsk between the Ukrainian army and armed separatists continued. Eleven monitors of the SMM were abducted for 7 hours, four others, abducted on 26 May, are still missing. The situation also remained tense in Luhansk, whereas other parts of the country were calm. In Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv, minor members of the Right Sector were held for several hours by armed individuals.

The SMM visited different locations in Kharkiv region: Krasnohrad (106 kilometres southeast of Kharkiv), Izyum (123 kilometres southeast of Kharkiv), Velykyi Burluk (107 kilometres east of Kharkiv) and Krasnokutsk (94 kilometres west of Kharkiv). The situation in the region remained calm. The Head of Izyum District administration informed the SMM that the presence of the Ukrainian army, based in the vicinity, was initially not welcomed by the local population but since then, people have started to perceive the Ukrainian soldiers as ‘trusted protectors’. 

The SMM team in Luhansk received information that fighting between the Ukrainian army and the separatists had resumed in the Rubizhne area (about 105 kilometres northwest of Luhansk). The number of casualties and wounded is not known.

On 28 May, at 12:10, 11 SMM monitors, on the way from Donetsk to Dnipropetrovsk, were stopped at a checkpoint at the entrance to Maryinka town (35 kilometres west of Donetsk) by approximately 12 armed people. The monitors were forced to leave the vehicles and give up their mobile phones. The monitors were taken to the occupied TV station in Donetsk. After arriving there, they were provided with food and asked to provide information on OSCE activity. At 18:45 a commander of the armed group pointed out the high number of losses in recent operations and said that the OSCE was the only organization competent to provide the public with a clear picture of the ongoing events. He added that he did not wish the OSCE to leave the area. At about 19:30 the monitors were set free.

The SMM team observed Dnipropetrovsk airport where the situation was found to be calm. The SMM visited the regional office of Ukraine's Communist Party, which had been, according to media, attacked with Molotov cocktails the night before. The SMM saw the marks of Molotov cocktails that fell in a yard.

The situation in Kherson was calm.

The head of the ‘Svoboda’ party in Odesa informed the SMM that at around 03:00 on 28 May there was an arson attack on the party’s office. The fire brigade arrived and put out the fire; but the entire upper floor is now destroyed. According to the interlocutor, the police are investigating the case as a domestic incident and not an arson attack. 

The situation in Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv was calm. The representatives of the local Polish community in the town of Zhovkva (28 kilometres northwest of Lviv) complained about the over-presence in the area of monuments to Stepan Bandera (1909-1959, political leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist’s radical wing), whereas the town’s founder, Stanisław Żółkiewski (1547-1620) did not have a single monument.

The SMM team in Kyiv attended the press conference of the activists remaining in Maidan square, who stated that Maidan is ‘currently being transformed from a physical space to a spiritual place’ and protest groups would not be disbanded until their demands are met.

The SMM is trying to verify an incident, which occurred on 27 May during the Right Sector’s meeting in the city of Zhytomyr (140 kilometres west of Kyiv). The Governor of Zhytomyr region and the Head of Regional Police informed that on the evening of 27 May, the local police had received an anonymous phone call indicating a shooting in Zhytomyr City Hall, where a meeting of the Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Berdychiv branches of the organization was ongoing. When officials and police arrived on the spot, they encountered approximately 10 masked and armed male individuals, who were holding 22 young people (15-18 years old), mainly members of the Right Sector. According to the teenagers, they were held for a few hours without expressing any demands. The police detained the masked individuals and seized their weapons, including at least two submachine guns. The individuals were subsequently released, some having been charged for illegal possession and use of weapons. The Governor explained to the SMM that the incident was probably caused by an internal conflict within the Right Sector.

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