On Friday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported several instances in which members of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) were denied access to important investigative areas in parts of the Luhansk region not controlled by the Ukrainian government.
During a press statement on Friday, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE’s SMM to Ukraine Alexander Hug reported that the monitoring mission has found it increasingly difficult to gain access to areas in the so-called Luhansk Peoples Republic (LPR). In particular, there were four separate occurrences this week in which SMM members were prevented from passing checkpoints controlled by the pro-Russian separatists.
“Many interlocutors in public institutions controlled by the so-called LPR have been insisting that we receive permission… before we visit or even speak to them,” Hug stated.
The OSCE Deputy noted that the SMM had always had limited access to certain areas in the Donbas region, but a new challenge emerged this week at checkpoints controlled by LPR militants.
“In what is now a near systematic practice, armed members of the so-called LPR have been insisting on unspecified authorization… We always had problems going through these checkpoints, but until now a call to people higher up on the chain was usually sufficient to resolve the situation,” Hug explained.
Freedom of movement for the OSCE’s monitoring mission was one of the key components of the Minsk II Agreement, which was signed by the various parties involved in the conflict including the leaders of the so-called LPR. The Deputy noted that if this is not fixed, the OSCE’s ability to carry out its mission will be severely compromised.