Vienna, July 6, 2017
Over the last two weeks, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine reported on new manifestations of radicalism in Ukraine. Extremists are trying to influence government decisions, and are seeking to destabilise the Ukrainian state. Between June 19 and 24, the SMM witnessed rallies by former Aydar battalion members held after their former commander, member of the Ukrainian parliament Sergey Melnichuk, was called in for questioning on terrorism charges. On June 21, the SMM reported an attempt in Kharkov to prevent journalists from entering the city council. On June 24, monitors witnessed protests staged by the Right Sector in Dnepropetrovsk against the appointment of a local police chief who used to be a Berkut commander.
The government has given the green light to rewriting history, and turns a blind eye to neo-Nazism which it is spreading among young people. From June 30 until July 2, in Lvov, as the city marked 76 years since Jewish pogroms by the Nazi troops and Ukrainian nationalists, the Shukhevichfest was held to honour a Nazi collaborationist and war criminal, Roman Shukhevich. SMM reports only briefly mention that monitors “continue observing” the situation in Kiev as well as in Lvov. Not only do they have to control, but also to report on what they see in every detail. The SMM has the budget to do this.
The situation continues to deteriorate. Quotas were introduced for the use of the Russian language and other minority languages. As a result, at least one half of Ukraine’s population has limited access to information. Journalists and civil society activists are regularly harassed. Where are the results of the investigations into the killing of Oles Buzina and Pavel Sheremet? Journalist Ruslan Kotsaba once again faces attacks. Igor Guzhva, Editor-in-Chief of Strana.ua news website, was detained. We also remember journalists Igor Kornelyuk, Anton Voloshin, Anatoly Klyan, Andrea Rocchelli, plus many others who were also killed.
There is a push to enact laws that would legalise church raids and infringe upon the rights of Orthodox Christians. Arrests of people expressing dissenting views on accusations of ‘everyday separatism’ have become a thing which is all too common, and so did arbitrary detention, and torture by the Security Service of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government knows no boundaries when it comes to deploying anti-Russian efforts. A draft law is currently being reviewed to prevent Russian artists from performing in Ukraine and Ukrainian artists from performing in Russia. At the same time, Ukrainian officials recognise that doctors use Russian medical drugs that are officially banned in Ukraine to save people from illnesses such as botulism.
Despite all these efforts, the society rejects the label of an “aggressor state” imposed by the official Kiev propaganda.
Not only Kiev is unable to take decisive action to stop violence along the line of contact, but provokes its escalation. The so-called bread-harvesting truce failed to bring about a complete ceasefire. On June 26, SMM monitors reported damaged buildings in Vesyolaya Gora and in Kominternovo following artillery fire coming from the area of deployment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On June 29, a large-scale firing incident took place near Yasinovataya, and on June 30 in the Popasnaya-Pervomaysk section. According to SMM data, over the last two weeks, from June 19 until July 3, artillery fire coming from the areas of deployment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine killed three civilians in Staromikhaylovka, Kominternovo and Yasinovataya, and wounded four in the Kuybyshevsky District of Donetsk, Dokuchaevsk and Stakhanov. Buildings were damaged in Vesyolaya Gora, Zaychenko, Kominternovo, Kirovsk, Leninsk and Sakhanka.
Nevertheless, the total number of violations has declined. Efforts to strengthen the bread harvesting truce should carry on.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine refuse to withdraw from Stanitsa Luganskaya. The monitors reported that between June 26-30, they did not respond to the signals from the self-defence units on the beginning of withdrawal. Nevertheless, the SMM expressly confirmed that there were no shelling incidents during a period of seven days.
Kiev is obviously afraid not only to begin a discussion of the political aspects of the settlement, but even to engage in direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. The Contact Group meeting in Minsk was another missed opportunity to make progress on the enactment of the law granting special status to these regions and arranging local elections.
It is obvious that the implementation of the Minsk Agreements presents a major challenge for the current Kiev authorities, but this is the only way for appeasing tension in the country and preserving its integrity within its current borders.
Russia condemns any attempts to frighten or threaten SMM monitors. Those responsible for such acts on both sides should be held accountable. The mobility of monitors is being restricted on both sides of the line of contact to a similar extent. The Armed Forces of Ukraine used the landmine threat as a pretext for completely shutting off access to Stanitsa Luganskaya, Schastie, Popasnaya, Bogdanovka and Katerinovka, as the SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug confirmed on June 12. Over the last two weeks, the Kiev armed forces opened fire twice against SMMs UAVs in Podgorny on June 16 and in Zatishny on June 26. On June 28, monitors were unable to launch a UAV from the territory controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Popasnaya due to jamming efforts. SMM did not report on these incidents separately, and the Mission did not provide the latest statistics related to patrols on both sides of the contact line. The SMM has to be guided by its core principles, i.e. to act in an impartial, unbiased and transparent manner.
Thank you for your attention.