Monthly Archives: June 2015

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 30 June 2015

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both BCPs. The overall cross-border traffic increased at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs).

DETAIL

OM’s staff composition

The OM is currently operating with 19 staff members, consisting of 18 permanent international observers (incl. the Chief Observer) and one first-responder[1], who is performing the duties of administrative assistant. Four staff members are currently on leave.

Cross-border movements common to both BCPs

The profile of the people crossing the border remains unchanged and can be categorised as follows:

  1. Families on foot, by car or by bus, with a lot of luggage, often accompanied by elderly people;
  2. Adults (usually of younger age) with no luggage or empty cars;
  3. People wearing military-style clothes with or without backpacks, crossing the border on foot or in vehicles.

As compared to last week, the average number of entries/exits increased overall from  9,795 to 10,153 per day for both BCPs; the average net flow went from plus 259 to minus 17 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation). The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for just under 34 percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The majority of the vehicles crossing the border have number plates issued in the Luhansk region. The number of articulated trucks and long-distance coaches commuting between Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation continues to be considerable.

Common observations at the BCPs

The situation at both BCPs remained calm. The OM continued to observe the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Services perform checks and controls.

Regular bus connections continued to operate between the Luhansk region and the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the Observer Teams (OTs) continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often those buses do not display their route or just have a sign on the windshield stating “Irregular”.

During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style dress, crossing the border in both directions, increased from 241 to 292 at both BCPs. Approximately eighty-five per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. These people continued to cross the border individually or in groups and on foot or using different transportation means (passenger cars, minivans, busses, bikes and motorbikes). Some of the people in this category are using busses to cross the border, making it more difficult for the OTs to observe their movement. The OTs also continued to observe physically fit young and middle-aged men dressed in civilian clothing. Often times, these men have short haircuts, carry camouflage-coloured backpacks and travel through the BCPs individually or in groups.

Furthermore, the OTs continued to observe vehicles (passenger cars, minivans, cargo trucks, buses) registered in Ukraine, with “Donetsk People’s Republic / Lugansk People’s Republic” (“DPR/LPR”) stickers on their license plates replacing the Ukrainian flag.

During the reporting week, the OTs continued to observe a high number of trucks. Cargo and dumper trucks transporting coal from Luhansk region to the Russian Federation crossed the border in both directions through the Gukovo BCP. While the majority of the trucks are registered in Luhansk region, the OTs also observed that trucks registered in the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus crossed the border. The OTs have also noted that during the reporting week the number of trucks registered in Republic of Belarus crossing the border has decreased from 69 to 48. In addition, the OTs also observed 37 tanker trucks; these trucks for the most part had the word “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tankers in Russian.

Throughout the week, the OTs observed a noticeable increase in aircraft activity in the vicinity of the BCPs.

The OTs also observed four ambulances provide assistance to civilians at the two BCPs.

Military movement

At both BCPs the OM did not observe military movement, apart from usual vehicle movements of the Russian Federation Border Guard Service.

Observation at the Gukovo BCP

The traffic flow at the Gukovo BCP has increased compared to last week. A daily average of 2836 entries and exits was recorded, which accounted for just over nine per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow went from plus 90 to plus 57 (i.e. more entries to the Russian Federation) on average per day.

During the reporting period, the OM observed a total of 34 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Gukovo BCP, 19 of whom left for Ukraine while 15 entered the Russian Federation.

As in previous weeks, the OM observed dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation. The OT also observed tanker trucks with the word “Propane” or “Flammable” and orange articulated fuel trucks crossing the border in both directions.

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains running on the train tracks located approximately 150 meters south-west of the BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on fourteen occasions; the OTs estimated that seven trains went to Ukraine and seven trains went to the Russian Federation. Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees in between the train tracks and the BCP.

On two occasions (both on 24 June) OTs observed a helicopter flying along the border. According to the OTs, as far as observed without technical means, the aircrafts did not violate the Ukrainian airspace.

The OTs continue to observe on occasion that long-distance buses, arriving to the BCP from Russian Federation, have to wait for several hours before being allowed to enter the BCP

On the 27 June, at 11:29 hrs, the OT heard 28 single shots from a light calibre weapon coming from the south-east. The distance was estimated to be approximately one kilometre from the BCP.

On the 28 June, between 21:04 and 21:11 hrs, the OT heard 23 single shots coming from a south-eastern direction. The sound of the shots was clear and the estimated distance was one to two kilometres away.

Observation at the Donetsk BCP

During the reporting period, the activity at the Donetsk BCP has increased compared to last week. The daily average of 7318 entries and exits accounted for just over twenty four percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow changed from plus 169 to minus 74 on average per day (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation). During the reporting week, the OT observed 258 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP individually or in groups; 141 persons in military-style clothing entered the Russian Federation while 117 of them left for Ukraine.

During the reporting week, the OTs observed three ambulances at the Donetsk BCP. On all three occasions, the ambulances arrived from Ukraine carrying elderly people. All ambulances returned to Ukraine.

In addition, during the reporting week the OTs observed the movement of buses with children crossing the border in both directions.

As previously mentioned, the OTs observed an increase in aircraft activity in the vicinity of the BCP. On 25 and 26 June, helicopters were observed flying on the Russian Federation side and the OTs also picked up the sound propeller planes. The OTs did not have a visual contact of the mentioned propeller planes.

CONVOY

On 25 June 2015 at 06:05hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk BCP (see the OM Spot Report of 18 June). A total of 47 vehicles (40 cargo trucks and 7 support vehicles) were visually checked from the outside by the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Services; one Russian service dog was used to check most of the cargo trucks. Ukrainian officials were present during the checks both on its outward and inward journeys. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 16:31 hrs on the same day.

 

[1] First-responders are OSCE staff or mission members deployed to another mission for a short period of time.

Media Advisory – Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, June 30, 2015 –Members of the media are invited to attend an important infrastructure funding announcement. Participating government representatives include Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margaret’s, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Lunenburg; and Rachel Bailey, Mayor of Lunenburg.

Date:

Time:

Location:
Lunenburg Academy,
97 – 101 Kaulbach Street,
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

For more information, please contact:

Vincent Rabault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
613-943-1838

Brian Taylor
Media Relations Advisor
Province of Nova Scotia
902-424-1750
Brian.Taylor@novacotia.ca

Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll-Free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: media@infc.gc.ca
Twitter: @INFC_eng
Website: Infrastructure Canada

Media Advisory – Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, June 30, 2015 –Members of the media are invited to attend an important infrastructure funding announcement. Participating government representatives include Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margaret’s, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; the Honourable Mark Furey, Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of Business, Minister of Service Nova Scotia, and Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Business Incorporated; and David Walker, Mayor of the Town of Bridgewater.

Date:

Time:

Location:
Town Hall,
60 Pleasant Street,
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

For more information, please contact:

Vincent Rabault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
613-943-1838

Brian Taylor
Media Relations Advisor
Province of Nova Scotia
902-424-1750
Brian.Taylor@novacotia.ca

Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll-Free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: media@infc.gc.ca
Twitter: @INFC_eng
Website: Infrastructure Canada

Living history: staff member of UN anti-Apartheid radio unit retires

Listen /

Derrick S. Mbatha (right), United Nations Radio Producer, interviews Charlize Theron, United Nations Messenger of Peace. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Human rights are for everyone to enjoy, a former anti-Apartheid activist has concluded after 36 years of service at the United Nations.

The UN led a campaign from 1950 onwards to eliminate South Africa’s system of legalized racial discrimination known as Apartheid.

Derrick Mbatha, a former producer at the underground Radio Freedom, the broadcast arm of the now ruling African National Congress (ANC), moved to New York in 1977 at age twenty-four to work for the UN’s Anti-Apartheid Radio Unit.

When South Africa became a democracy in 1994, Derrick joined the English Radio team.

He shares some of his history with his colleague, Jocelyne Sambira.

Duration: 5’00”

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 29 June 2015

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. The SMM conducted crater analysis. The overall situation in Luhansk remained tense.

The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. Between 08:42 and 12:21hrs, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard and saw 69 explosions (mortar and artillery fire, mainly incoming), 34 bursts, and two shots from small arms and light weapons at distances between 5-10km west, northwest, northeast, south and southwest of the SMM location.[1] Between 12:45 and 16:53hrs, the SMM heard 96 incoming and outgoing explosions from mortar, anti-grenade launcher, bursts of heavy machine gun and small arms fire, and saw 21 airbursts of 82mm mortars at a distance between 2.5-7km of the SMM position in directions west, north-west, north-north-west, north-east, and north. Both representatives of Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC observation post reported that there had been heavy shelling in Horlivka with fire thought to be from 120mm mortar, both outgoing and incoming, in the early hours of 29 June.

At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the JCCC presented the SMM with two separate logbooks for both 27 and 28 June. For both days, both logs indicated a majority of ceasefire violations committed by the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”).

Following up on information about shelling in Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39 km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 27 June, the SMM visited the area and conducted crater analysis at six sites on Shashurina Street. At four of these sites, the SMM was not able to determine the exact type and calibre of the projectile, since either the shrapnel could not be found or had been removed. The SMM, however, was able to assess that three of these impacts must have been caused by a 120mm weapon, while the fourth by a weapon of at least 122mm calibre. On the same street, a group of around 30 residents (mostly middle-aged and elderly women), visibly upset, spoke to the SMM in the presence of local media. The residents insisted that the SMM observe also damage inside the flats, accusing the SMM of insufficient reporting on the civilian suffering in Horlivka area. A woman (late 50s) told the SMM that her neighbour (female) had been killed on 8 June. The SMM visited the victim’s flat and spoke to another neighbour who said that she had found the victim on her kitchen floor, killed by shrapnel. The SMM observed several other flats on Shashurina Street, in close proximity to the line of contact, most of which were damaged in prior shelling. Three flats had been hit directly and damaged severely. The SMM was unable to determine the direction or the type of weapon. Several interlocutors said the majority of the residents have no other place to go. According to them, there are many children in this area and the local primary school and kindergarten are operating, despite continuous shelling.

In Shakhta 6/7 (“DPR”-controlled, 43km north-north-east of Donetsk), on 27 June, the SMM spoke to a man (aged 59) who said his brother had been killed on 27 June as a result of a direct hit on his garage. The SMM spoke with a number of eye-witnesses and photo documented the impact site. The garage was completely destroyed and burnt out.

The situation in Luhansk remained tense. The SMM heard 30 explosions in Bobrove (government-controlled, 56km north-west of Luhansk) caused by rounds of 82 or 120mm calibre weapons. Near Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 76km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard artillery fire. The JCCC posts at Lysychansk (government-controlled, 90km west of Luhansk) and Novoaidar (government-controlled, 57km north of Luhansk) jointly informed the SMM of a total of 17 ceasefire violations – all attributed to the “LPR” – including the use of small arms, automatic grenade launchers, heavy machine-guns, mortars (82mm), anti-aircraft machine-gun and grenade launcher.

On 28 June, in government-controlled Bobrove (56km west-north-west of Luhansk), a woman (40 years old) told the SMM that, in the early hours of 28 June, she had heard continuous shelling from approximately 2km to the south and south-east, followed four to five seconds later by an impact at a location around 30m from her house. The SMM visited the site of an impact, where a round crater was observed in the sand (diameter 3m, depth 2m, approximately); however, the SMM could not ascertain the type of weapon since the remnants appeared to have been removed.

On 29 June in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM was informed by two women (aged 30) that, on the night of 28 to 29 June, there was an exchange of fire from rocket-propelled grenades. They said three pieces of grenades were found in a house next to the bus station. The SMM observed remnants of a grenade in front of a nearby shop.

On 29 June, three staff (women, middle-aged) of the village council’s office in Buhaivka (“LPR”-controlled, 38km south-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that an international aid organisation visits the village once every two to three months and raises mine awareness among children. According to them, so far none of the children had been injured by a mine or a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM also spoke to three women (around 60), who stated that pensions are paid in Russian roubles and some products are three times more expensive than in government-controlled areas.

The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which complied with the respective withdrawal lines. At two of them, all weapons previously recorded were in situ. At a third site, the SMM was asked to wait and later was allowed in but was not permitted to verify the serial numbers*, but only to visually inspect the weapons.

Despite claims by all sides that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements/presence in areas that are non-compliant with the respective withdrawal lines: in government-controlled areas, the SMM observed three main battle tanks (MBTs) T-64, dug into the ground, in the immediate vicinity of a settlement.

On 27 June (on the occasion of the Constitution Day), on the Liberty Square in the centre of Kharkiv city, the SMM monitored a peaceful pro-unity rally, which gathered around 250 participants (mixed gender and age). Participants displayed two big flags – of Ukraine and of the EU – as well as numerous smaller flags of Ukraine and the Solidarity political party. The rally was organized by the Solidarity party. Approximately 120 police officers were present.

On 29 June, the SMM met the representatives of the regional branch of the non-governmental organization UKROP in Ivano-Frankivsk, who stated that last week they facilitated the transportation of the remains of fallen soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) by a non-governmental organization (unspecified) based in Dnepropetrovsk, which has more specialized vehicles at its disposal.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv.

* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM by both the “DPR” and “LPR”. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.

Delay:

– At a checkpoint in Olhynka (government-controlled, 42km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was asked to present national passports. The showed the SMM IDs and after ten minutes was allowed to proceed.

– Upon arrival at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, an armed “DPR” member said that in order to allow SMM inside to inspect weapons he had to call his commander for permission. After approximately 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed inside; however, the SMM was not permitted to verify the serial numbers of the weapons therein but only to check the weapons visually.

 

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.

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