Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Matilda Bogner who is visiting the Lugansk People’s Republic travelled to LPR frontline settlements that often come under Ukrainian forces fire.
She was accompanied by LPR Foreign Minister, the Republic’s representative at the Minsk talks Vladislav Deinego and LPR representative in the Contact Group subgroup on humanitarian issues, head of the Republic’s working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva.
The UN delegation led by Bogner visited the frontline settlements of Donetsky and Golubovskoye, the Berezovskoye village and Zolotoye-5 where she talked with local residents and inspected war damage. The Mission representatives visited the Zolotoye-5 school and kindergarten damaged by strikes.
Bogner privately talked with a Donetsky resident who had been seriously wounded in a strike by Ukrainian forces.
“I cannot comment right now. We saw damage to the school, kindergarten etc. We recorded it and will show it in our report,” she said after the visit to the contact line.
Kobtseva said that it was the first such visit by UN Mission representatives to LPR frontline settlements in several years.
“We visited settlements along the contact line where Mission representatives saw with their own eyes how much the LPR territory is shelled by Ukrainian forces,” she said.
Kobtseva expressed the hope that the UN Mission representatives’ reports would present an objective assessment of the contact line situation.
“The UN human right monitoring mission have international format, and the most important thing is that they reflect the real picture of what is happening in the Republic, in particular on the contact line where the population lives under constant fire,” she said.
Not all residents of frontline settlements wanted to talk with Mission representatives one-on-one fearing that they won’t be heard or that their words will be twisted.
For example, Donetsky pensioner Lidia believes that the visit by the UN Mission personnel can hardly stop the Ukrainian army aggression.
“They will stop the war? They won’t. They can’t help in any way. We hope that Russia will recognize us eventually,” Lidia said.
The pensioner said that a majority of residents have obtained Russian citizenship and are confident that Russia won’t leave them in trouble.
Earlier in the day, Kobtseva and Bogner visited prisoners in a Lugansk penitentiary.
The Ukrainian government launched the so-called anti-terrorist operation against Donbass in April 2014. Conflict settlement relies on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarussian capital by the Contact Group members and coordinated by the Normandy Four heads of states (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine). The document provides for ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line.
The document provides for comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the contact line, starting a dialog on reconstruction of social and economic ties between Kiev and Donbass. It also envisages carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization and adopting permanent legislation on a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. *i*s