OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

06/19/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/19/2020 10:52

Spot Report 32/2020: Members of the armed formations continued to deny SMM patrols passage at checkpoints in Donetsk and Luhansk regions

From 13 to 19 June, members of the armed formations again denied SMM attempts to cross into non-government-controlled areas along official crossing routes: four times in Donetsk region and four times in Luhansk region, while further attempts to cross into government-controlled areas were also denied, twice in Donetsk region and four times in Luhansk region.

On 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 June, at a checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), members of the armed formations continued to deny the SMM passage towards non-government-controlled areas on four occasions, and passage towards government-controlled areas on four other occasions, each time referring to the closure of the checkpoint due to COVID-19.

On 14 and 16 June, at a checkpoint near Olenivka (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), members of the armed formations continued to deny the SMM passage towards government-controlled areas on two occasions, stating that 'the SMM did not have permission to pass' and the need for 'permission from superiors', respectively. On the same days and on 19 June, members of the armed formations denied the Mission passage towards non-government-controlled areas, twice referring to quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19 and once without providing any reason.

In addition, on 15 June, at a checkpoint near Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), a member of the armed formations denied the Mission passage towards non-government-controlled areas, referring to restrictions due to COVID-19. The SMM continued to observe the presence of a metal barrier and spikes laid across the road, and of a mine hazard sign.

The Mission began facing repeated denials when attempting to cross into non-government-controlled areas at checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk region on 21 March and Luhansk region on 23 March (see previous SMM Spot Reports). They restrict the SMM's freedom of movement across the contact line, thus impeding the implementation of its mandate throughout the country.

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With regard to COVID-19, the SMM has introduced a number of stringent mitigation measures into its operational procedures. These include strict adherence to social distancing rules both internally and with external interlocutors, daily temperature checks, use of PPE and minimizing the number of personnel in vehicles.