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Latest news from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received until 18:00 hrs, 17 June (Kyiv time)
19 June 2014 03:15

The situation across the country was calm, except parts of Donbas where tensions remained. Donetsk city remained outwardly calm. The police estimated that several hundred thousand people have now left the city. The mood among those that remained is uncertain and anxious. Mortar fire was reported to have continued in Sloviansk. The SMM has not reestablished communication with the four monitors from the Donetsk team and four monitors from the Luhansk team with whom it lost contact on 26 May and 29 May respectively.

In Kharkiv the situation remained calm. The SMM monitored a EuroMaidan rally on 16 June evening attended by some 600 people moving from the Shevchenko Statue to the Russian Consulate General, chanting anti-Russian slogans. Among the protestors the SMM spotted Crimean Tatars, EuroMaidan activists and about 60 ‘Right Sector’ activists with their faces partly covered. All were identifiable by their flags. The protests in front of the Consulate lasted for about 30 minutes. No damage was caused. Approximately 50 to 60 police officers were at the spot.

The SMM monitored the return to Kharkiv of the city’s mayor, Hennadiy Kernes. Arriving from Israel, where he had been for medical treatment, he was met by some 1,000 people carrying Ukrainian and Kharkiv city flags. Participants were driven to the venue in buses organized by the city administration. Some 15 activists standing on the sidelines expressed their discontent about Kernes’ return, calling for him to be tried for alleged corruption and not to be considered for the governorship of the region.

The SMM met with the deputy head of the Lozova (130 kilometres south of Kharkiv) district administration who said that 154 registered families (410 people, the majority women and children) arrived from Donetsk and Luhansk. Out of those, 14 families (42 people) were accommodated in former military barracks. The remaining families were staying with their relatives or in accommodation at their own expense. The registration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was managed by the district’s Social Services Co-ordination Centre. IDPs were directed to contact this Centre via information provided at bus stations, train stations, and markets. Of those 410 IDPs, 92 pensioners applied to receive their pensions in Lozova, signaling an expectation that they won’t be returning to their homes soon.

In southern parts of the Luhansk region the situation remained tense. Media reported that one Russian journalist had been killed in the fighting around Luhansk city. A hospital source in Luhansk confirmed to the SMM that a journalist had indeed been killed. A second Russian journalist, sources suggest, is missing, feared also to have been killed or injured.

Valeriy Bolotov, ’president’ of the so-called ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ appealed publicly for those with specific military experience to join the ‘South Eastern Army’. In particular, he asked for those who had previously handled mortars, heavy machine guns and APCs to volunteer.

Donetsk city remained calm, with no substantive change to the security situation. Police estimated that several hundred thousand people had left the city in recent months, particularly in the period from May to June. Repairs to the key water-supply system outside Sloviansk, damaged during the fighting, continued for a third day. Despite warnings of possible water shortages, rationing has not been implemented.

Sloviansk was reported by 'Mayor' Pavlenko to have again been mortared during the day. This was corroborated by returning journalists. Senior leaders of the so-called 'Donetsk People’s Republic', including 'prime minister' Boroday and 'speaker' Pushilin, have now been absent from Donetsk for ten days.

In Dnepropetrovsk the situation remained calm. The SMM visited Vasylkivka (100 kilometres southeast of Dnepropetrovsk), and met with the representatives of the local administration. Regarding IDPs, they informed that around 30 people have arrived from Donetsk, and they lived mainly in a town near Vasylkivka. No special funds have been set aside for IDPs, but the local authorities will try to assist with schooling and healthcare if the number of IDPs increases, as they expect.

The SMM met with the German non-governmental organization “Ebenezer Hilfsfond” and discussed the situation of Jewish residents wishing to leave Donetsk and Luhansk. According to the NGO, approximately 3,000 Jewish residents in Donetsk and Luhansk had the intention to leave the region. A number of them already left with transport organized by a Christian church and the NGO. A reception centre set up by the NGO in Dnepropetrovsk provided assistance to approximately 120 IDPs on one particular day.

The situation in Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv remained calm.

In Kyiv on 17 June at approximately 10:00 hrs, the SMM monitored demonstrations held in front of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) by local Ukrainian activists (Maidan Self-Defence, Maidan activists and various local civil society organizations). The SMM counted between 300 to 400 participants. The protesters demanded the “cleaning up of the Rada”. The SMM spotted a noticeable level of Ukrainian law enforcement personnel around the Parliament (at least 22 police buses and approximately 300 to 400 police personnel). At approximately 11:30 hrs, Maidan Self-Defence activists left the Verkhovna Rada area before heading to the Central Bank of Ukraine.

The SMM spotted another small demonstration (approximately 30 people) in front of the Ukrainian Government Building. All the events remained calm and no incidents were reported.

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