01.01.2017 – the birthday of Stepan Bandera
On 1 January, the SMM observed marches marking the birthday of Stepan Bandera. In Kyiv the SMM observed a crowd of about 2,500 (men and women of different ages) who gathered in Shevchenko Park and marched to Maidan Square. Some carried torches, red and black flags and the flags of the Svoboda political party, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, the youth organization Sokil, Bilyi Molot, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Kholodnyi Yar and those of the non-governmental organizations, Banking Riot and Protection of Ukrainian People. Approximately 1,000 law enforcement officers were present. In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM observed approximately 500–600 persons (mostly middle-aged or elderly men) march to a Bandera monument. In Lviv the SMM saw about 300 people (75 per cent men, mostly middle-aged and elderly) gathered at a Bandera monument. In Odessa the SMM observed about 300 people (about 70 per cent men, with an average age of around 30 years-old) march from the Shevchenko Monument to the city centre. The flags of the Right Sector, Svoboda, Sokil and the Odessa Maidan Self-defence were visible in the crowd. About 60 National Guards and 20 police officers escorted the march. Apart from a scuffle at the Odessa march, all events passed off peacefully.
20.01.2017 – the "active phase” of the Maidan protests
The SMM monitored a march in central Kyiv marking the third anniversary of what the participants called the "active phase” of the Maidan protests. About 100 people (90 per cent men, mostly young and middle aged) gathered on Independence Square. The SMM observed red-and-black flags emblazoned with "OUN” (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), blue and yellow flags (not national flags), and others with skulls and "Bank Rebellion” written on them. Some participants held signs with "White Hammer” and "Warrior Hammer” written on them. Marchers walked to Mykhaila Hrushevskoho Street, where the SMM saw about 100 National Guards and 50 police officers. One marcher attempted to set tyres on fire but was stopped by riot police. Soon after, riot police forcibly entered the crowd and seized tyres. Protestors then walked back to Independence Square and dispersed peacefully.
21.01.2017 – Unity Day
On 21 January the SMM monitored gatherings to mark Ukrainian Unity Day. About 150 people (60–70 per cent male, aged 20–60) gathered in Kyiv’s central square, protesting against what they said was Russian involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. The event took place without police presence and ended peacefully. The SMM monitored similar gatherings near the Russian Federation consulates in Odessa (about 80 people, with the presence of about 25 National Guards and 25 police officers) and Kharkiv (about 45 people, with the presence of about 300 police officers). The SMM monitored other peaceful Unity Day gatherings in Kyiv, Odessa, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk.
19.02.2017 – the third anniversary of Maidan events from 2013–2014
The SMM observed numerous public gatherings in Kyiv. On 18 February, a four-day series of commemorations began to mark the third anniversary of Maidan events from 2013–2014. Throughout the day, the SMM observed between 350–600 people (mixed gender and age) attend various speeches at prominent sites during the events including Mykhailovskii and Sofiivskii squares and Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. The SMM saw large screens with images of the 100 men who died during the events, called the Heavenly Hundred, being projected and people gathering on Instytutska Street in front of memorials for each of the men along the side of the road. Police and National Guard of Ukraine were stationed throughout the city centre, and all entry/exit points to Independence Square and surrounding areas were equipped with portable walk-through metal. The SMM noted hundreds of police officers patrolling and some were accompanied by dogs. Throughout the day the SMM noted a peaceful situation.
In the afternoon on 19 February, approximately 1,000 people gathered (mixed gender and age, about ten per cent wearing camouflage and insignia of the former Donbas battalion) at Maidan Nezalezhnosti and walked up Instytutska Street to Bankova Street. The SMM observed people carrying Ukrainian and red-and-black flags and several activists and a politician gave speeches in front of the group on Bankova Street in favour of the current railway blockades in eastern Ukraine, which according to them have been undertaken to expose and halt what they said were corrupt business practices and profiteering.
20.02.2017 – "Heavenly Hundred"
The SMM monitored peaceful demonstrations commemorating the third anniversary of the Maidan events. On the evening of 19 February, the SMM saw a gathering of about 300 people (mostly men aged between 20 and 35) in front of the Duke Monument in Odessa (overseen by two police officers and ten guards of city council). On 20 February, the SMM monitored a gathering of 300 people (men and women different age groups) near the Shevchenko monument in Kharkiv (overseen by 150 law enforcement officers), a gathering of 800 people (men and women different age groups) in front of the building of the regional administration in Ivano-Frankivsk (overseen by five police officers), and a gathering of 1,500 people (men and women different age groups) in front of the monument to the "Heavenly Hundred” (overseen by about 400 officers of police and National Guard present) in Kyiv.
23.02.2017 – the Defender of the Fatherland day
In Odessa, on 23 February the SMM monitored a commemoration of the Defender of the Fatherland day at the monument of the Unknown Sailor. At 10:45 a police officer present told the SMM that there was an announced bomb threat. The SMM observed the monument and its surrounding areas were cordoned by about 80 officers of the police and National Guard, and a bomb squad vehicle and a fire truck were parked nearby. In front of the cordon there were a group of some 50 people (mostly elderly men and women) waiting to lay flowers, and another group of some 40 men (aged between 18 and 45), most of them wearing military-style clothes. The SMM saw two police officers taking an elderly woman, who was shouting at National Guard officers, to a police car, and driving away. A police officer told the SMM that it was a "measure to prevent violence”. At 11:45, police informed the SMM that the area was clear of any explosive devices and started to let small groups (10–20) of people approach the monument and lay flowers. Other than exchange of verbal arguments between the two groups the SMM did not observe any incidents.
10.04.2017 – Odessa’s liberation in 1944
On 10 April, in Odessa, the SMM monitored several events coinciding with the anniversary of the city’s liberation in 1944. In Shevchenko Park about 500 people were gathered and the site was secured by about 250 police and about 100 National Guards. After an official ceremony, about 100 people (men and women, 35–65 years old), escorted by about 50 police officers, marched to the monument shouting anti-Maidan slogans. The SMM saw another group comprising of participants carrying Right Sector symbols and recognised some of them. The SMM saw the police intervene several times, detaining some of the participants of the latter group. A police official told the SMM that a total of 16 activists had been detained. On the same day, in front of the Prymorskyi district police station at 42 Hretska Street, about 60 activists from the same two groups were gathered, and the station was guarded by ten police officers in riot gear, with two buses of similarly dressed police nearby. Both police and activists told the SMM that some of the detained activists had been released. At a monument in the Arcadia area of the city, the SMM monitored another gathering (of about 600 people and 300 police officers), which ended peacefully. A smaller gathering in Victory Park also ended peacefully.
28.04.2017 – the 70th anniversary of Operation Vistula
On 28 April in Lviv the SMM monitored a gathering marking the 70th anniversary of Operation Vistula, attended by about 250 people (men and women aged 15–75). Twelve police officers were present at the event, which took place peacefully.
02.05.2017 – commemoration of the events of 2 May 2014 in Odessa
The SMM monitored the commemoration of those who lost their lives during the events that took place on 2 May 2014 in Odessa. The SMM monitored events at Kulykove Pole in Odessa where some 300 police and National Guard officers were present at and around the square, which was cordoned off by police tape and vehicular traffic was closed. The SMM observed police officers close the square for about half an hour due to, what they said, was a bomb alarm. At around 14:00 about 400–500 individuals entered the square for a commemoration ceremony. The SMM also observed about 70 individuals—some wearing insignia of and others known to the SMM as different pro-Maidan groups—gathered in small groups outside the square. Some of them said that they were observing and would report any provocations to the police. Throughout the day, the SMM saw a few thousand people (men and women, different age groups) visiting the square. The SMM did not observe any incidents.
The SMM also monitored a ceremony at the corner of Derybasivska and Preobrazhenska Streets in Odessa. The SMM saw about 100 persons (men and women, different age groups), including about 40 people who were wearing clothes or arm-bands with Right Sector insignia. About 40 police and National Guard officers were present in the area. Several speeches were delivered at the event, which concluded peacefully.
In Kherson, the SMM monitored a similar commemoration event at the Heroes Square. The SMM saw about 50 individuals (men and women, different age groups), including 12 individuals who identified themselves as members of the Right Sector and about 15 young men who identified themselves as affiliated with the Azov movement. About 150 police officers were present at and around the square, including groups of riot police in the vicinity.
The SMM continued monitoring the commemoration of the events of 2 May 2014 in Odessa. (See Externer Link: SMM Daily Report 3 May 2017.) On the evening of 2 May, in Hretska Square, the SMM saw about 300 people (mostly men, 20–60 years old), some of whom identified themselves as members of the Right Sector, Right Youth, National Corps, and State Initiative of Yarosh. About 150 police officers were present at the square. The SMM did not observe any incidents.
08.05.2017 – Reconciliation and Commemoration Day
On 8 May, the SMM monitored gatherings and events marking "Reconciliation and Commemoration Day” in Kharkiv, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk and Odessa. In Kharkiv, the SMM observed about 1,000 people (mixed gender, all ages), including representatives of local government, religious communities and the diplomatic corps, gathered at the city centres. About 600 police officers were present. In Odessa, the SMM monitored a commemoration event at the Alley of Glory where about 300 people (mixed gender, all ages), including local government officials and NGO groups, attended. About 50 police officers were present. In Dnipro, the SMM observed an event held at the Memory and Reconciliation Park where about 200 people (mixed gender, all ages), including local government officials, veterans and civic groups, attended. Only a few police officers were observed. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the SMM observed about 150 people (mixed gender, all ages) gathered at the city centres. A dozen police officers were present. The Mission observed no security incidents at any of these events.
09.05.2017 – Victory Day
The SMM also observed a number of gatherings marking 9 May across Ukraine. In Kyiv the SMM monitored as up to 5,000 people gathered near the Park of Eternal Glory and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The SMM assessed that around 3,500 law enforcement officers were present during the course of the day. Outside Arsenalna metro station the SMM observed a group of 20 persons, some known to the SMM as Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist (OUN) members and members of the Committee for liberation of political prisoners (mostly men, aged 20–50 years-old) confront people making their way to the march. The SMM saw heated arguments and some brief scuffles. Later, the SMM observed as at least six OUN members threw rotten potatoes, smoke grenades and glass bottles at marchers. A short time later the SMM saw a group of around 15 people, some carrying yellow-and-blue flags and black-and-red flags, confront marchers at the Park of Eternal Glory. The SMM witnessed a young man hitting an elderly marcher. Security officers promptly tackled the young man. Several other verbal confrontations were seen by the SMM.
In Odessa the SMM monitored a "March of the Immortal Regiment" (attended by about 650 persons at its height). Some participants carried pictures of deceased WWII veterans. At the Alley of Glory, thousands of visitors (many more than participated in the march) laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Sailor. Thirty riot police and National Guard personnel were present. The SMM observed as police removed some St. George ribbons and Communist symbols from marchers, which led to minor scuffles. Near the Alley of Glory small groups of pro-Maidan activists shouted at the marchers. The SMM later observed scuffles between activists from pro-Maidan groups (the SMM recognized members of Street Front, Svoboda, and Right Sector) and people attending the march. In all instances observed by the SMM, security forces (40 National Police and 15 National Guards) quickly intervened and deescalated the situation. Also in Odessa the SMM saw flowers being laid at the Wings of Victory monument on April 10th Square in a ceremony attended by about 500 persons. About 200 police officers and cadets were present.
In Kharkiv the SMM saw around 10,000 people gathered at the Monument of Glory with about 1,000 law enforcement officers present. The SMM observed shouting and scuffles between elderly people laying flowers at the memorial and uniformed individuals who told the SMM that they were ATO veterans. Police intervened and separated the two groups. The SMM also monitored ceremonies in Solonytsivka (23km west of Kharkiv) attended by about 400 people and in Kremenchuk (250km west of Kharkiv, Poltava region), attended by some 2,000 people. About 100 law enforcement officers were present at each ceremony.
The SMM also observed 9 May events in Mykolaiv (attended by 4,000 people), Kherson (attended by 3,000–4,000 people), Chernivtsi (about 500 persons) and in Lviv (about 30 persons). The SMM also monitored gatherings marking "Reconciliation and Commemoration Day" in Lviv and in Chernivtsi. In Lviv the SMM observed about 200 people gather in memory of the victims of the Shtalah-328 concentration camp. In Chernivtsi the SMM observed about 130 persons gathered at the monument of the "Bukovynskyi Kurin".
18.05.2017 – the Soviet deportation of the Crimean Tatars
The SMM monitored public gatherings marking the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars near the administrative border line between Kherson and Crimea. (…) On 18 May, the SMM monitored public gatherings near the administrative border line between Kherson and Crimea. In the city of Henichesk (176km east of Kherson), the SMM monitored a gathering near the city square attended by about 300 people, mainly Crimean Tatars from surrounding areas. The SMM saw some 100 police officers and twelve Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel (unarmed) present. The SMM also noted a group of three men in camouflage attire and green berets as well as around 30 young Crimean Tatars, some of whom were masked and in camouflage attire. Kherson region’s high-ranking officials and Crimean Tatar activist leaders participated in the event and gave speeches.
Later the same day, at an event held near and at the crossing point of Chonhar (167km south-east of Kherson), the SMM observed about 300 people (mixed gender, all ages), an extensive police presence of approximately 100 police officers (unarmed) outside the crossing point and an increased number of armed border guards inside the crossing point. The SMM saw the so-called Asker-mobile group, with a cargo truck with metal plates welded to its exterior, attempting to proceed inside the crossing point towards the bridge that divides Kherson region and the Crimean Peninsula, which was subsequently blocked by the border guards’ off-road vehicles about 50m from the bridge. A group of about 25 people, including high-ranking officials of the Kherson region and Crimean Tatar regional Mejlis, then walked towards the bridge; once the group crossed the bridge’s halfway mark, guards on the other side of the bridge stretched razor wire across the road and with two military trucks stopped the group’s advancement two–three metres from their position. After 35 minutes of rallying on the bridge, during which the group sang the Ukrainian anthem several times, raising the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar flags on the flagpole located at the mid-bridge point, they proceeded back and soon vacated the crossing point. The gatherings then ended peacefully.
21.05.2017 – victims of political repression under the Communist regime
On 21 May in Lviv, the SMM monitored an event in memory of the victims of political repression under the Communist regime. The SMM observed about 200 people (men and women between 35 and 75 years old), including representatives of local authorities and law enforcement agencies, participating in a commemoration event where speeches were held commemorating victims of political repression. At the end of the event, flowers and candles were placed at the foot of the monument of the Victims of Communist Crimes and a memorial service was conducted by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The SMM saw four police officers present. The event was peaceful.
28.05.2017 – "Day of Heroes"
On 28 May, the SMM monitored a range of events on the occasion of the "Day of Heroes” in Lviv. The commemorative event started with the laying of flowers at Lychakiv cemetery and was followed by reciting of a prayer by the local clergy. The SMM observed approximately 1,000 participants, including civil society activists, members of youth organizations as well as local and regional authorities. Another commemoration took place in front of Taras Shevchenko monument with approximately 2,200 people. The SMM observed approximately 20 police officers and one ambulance on the site. All events passed peacefully.
28.06.2017 – Constitutional Day
The SMM monitored celebrations of Constitutional Day in Dnipro and Kharkiv. In Dnipro the SMM observed two separate events, one at the Taras Shevchenko monument in central Dnipro where about 300 participants, including members of Parliament and local authorities, were present. The SMM also saw 20 unarmed police officers. Another event took place in front of the regional state administration building with the participation of about 200 people. Each of the events lasted for about 20 minutes. In Kharkiv the SMM observed an official ceremony where about 1,000 people were present, including representatives of the regional authorities. The SMM saw 50 police officers present.
22.07.2017 – the inauguration of a monument dedicated to Ivan Mazepa
On 22 July, in the centre of Kolomak (90km south-west of Kharkiv), the SMM monitored a gathering to mark the inauguration of a monument dedicated to Ivan Mazepa, who had been elected as the Hetman of Zaporizhzhian Host 330 years ago. The SMM saw about 3,000 people (men and women of different ages), many of whom were wearing traditional Ukrainian clothes, as well as regional government officials and religious representatives attend the ceremony. Some participants were holding Cossack flags. About 230 police officers were present. The event ended peacefully.
27.–28.07.2017 – the adoption of Christianity by the Kyivan-Rus state
Also in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a procession of between 15,000 and 20,000 people (about 80 percent older women) organized by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to commemorate the adoption of Christianity by the Kyivan-Rus state. The SMM assessed about 3,000 police officers and National Guards secured the route as marchers walked between Volodymyrska Hill and Pechersk Lavra. The SMM did not observe any security incidents, and police also reported that there had been no serious incidents.
In Kyiv, the SMM continued monitoring commemorations of the adoption of Christianity by the Kyivan-Rus state. (See Externer Link: SMM Daily Report 28 July 2017.) The Mission monitored a procession of between 4,000 and 5,000 people (mostly middle-aged and elderly, about 40 per cent women) organized by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate. The SMM assessed that about 1,000 police and National Guard officers provided security as the marchers walked between St. Volodymyr Cathedral and Volodymyrska Hill. The SMM did not observe security incidents.
24.08.2017 – National Flag Day and Ukrainian Independence Day
On 23 and 24 August, the SMM monitored public gatherings in commemoration of National Flag Day and Ukrainian Independence Day in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Ivano‑Frankivsk, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Shchastia, Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), Sloviansk (95km north of Donetsk) Stanytsia Luhanska, Poltava, and Zaporizhzhia; the SMM observed no incidents during the events, which gathered on average, 500 to 100 individuals. The SMM also monitored a gathering of about 4,000 people in Kharkiv marking the liberation of the city in August 1943.
On 24 August, in Kyiv, the Mission saw thousands of people gathered to observe a military parade on Khreshchatyk Street, which was secured by a large law enforcement presence. Following up on information released by Kyiv City Police regarding an explosion in Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv that resulted in injuries, the SMM observed one forensic team examining the scene, which was cordoned off.
30.08.2017 – Illovaisk battle
In Poltava region, the SMM monitored four public gatherings in commemoration of the "Ilovaisk battle" that took place in August 2014. On the morning of 29 August, in Kremenchuk (225km south-west of Kharkiv), the Mission saw a gathering of 150 people (mixed gender and ages), including regional state administration representatives, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers and ATO veterans, at a park at 2 Pushkina Street. Some of them were carrying Ukrainian national flags and ATO veteran association flags. About 20 police officers were present. During the event, participants gave speeches, noting those volunteers from Kremenchuk who had lost their lives in the "Ilovaisk battle”. One hour later at the city cemetery in Svishtovska Street in Kremenchuk, the SMM saw a similar gathering of about 100 people (mixed gender and ages), including government officials, religious representatives, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers and ATO veterans. Two police officers were present.
The same day, in Poltava (86km south-east of Kharkiv), the SMM monitored a gathering in front of the regional state administration building. The Mission saw about 50 people (mixed gender and ages), some of whom laid flowers in front of the building. About 30 participants then walked to the city cemetery, as announced during the event, to honour four Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers from Poltava who had lost their lives in the "Ilovaisk battle”. Later the same day, the SMM saw about 80 people (mixed gender and ages) gathered in front of the Mazepa Monument at Soborna Square in the centre of Poltava, including about 30 men in uniforms (ten in National Guard and 20 in Ukrainian Armed Forces uniforms) holding flags of different former battalions. Five police officers were present. All events ended peacefully.
15.10.2017 – Defender of Ukraine Day and the 75th anniversary of the founding of UPA
On 14 October, the SMM monitored events around the Defender of Ukraine Day holiday and an announced "Glory to the Heroes” march dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The SMM saw about 20,000 people (mainly under 40-years-old, and 90 per cent young men) marching through Bessarabska Square, along Khreshchatyk Street to Kontraktova Square. The SMM saw flags of National Corps, Svoboda, Right Sector and two flags of the group "Wotan Jugend”. Police officers, including about 250 wearing riot gear, walked in front of the march. The SMM saw and heard several instances of small firecrackers or smoke canisters being set off during the march, as well as small, hand-held torches that some marchers lit and burned briefly as they passed along Khreshchatyk Street. The SMM did not observe any incidents.
07.11.2017 – October Revolution
In Donetsk city the SMM observed about 200 people—some carrying red flags—gathered in front of the public library on Artema Street. The gathering, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, had been announced online. The SMM also observed preparations being made in Lenin Square in Donetsk for an event to celebrate the same event.
21.11.2017 – the Day of Dignity and Freedom
The SMM monitored gatherings, as previously announced, in commemoration of the Day of Dignity and Freedom in Kyiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Chernivtsi. In Kyiv, the SMM observed that on this occasion an event marking Paratroopers Day was organized on Mykhailivska Square by the Government. The Mission saw about 300 people (men and women of different ages), including government officials, and about 100 paratroopers at the event. At least 50 National Guard and 20 police officers were present. Later in the day, the SMM saw about 250–300 people (20–50 years old, mainly men) gathered on Independence Square; some of them were carrying Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and red-and-black flags and flags with the word "New Fire", along with Ukrainian national flags. About 250 police officers were present nearby. The SMM saw shoving between some of the participants and police officers in a short period of time but did not observe any further incidents.
In Kherson, the SMM observed about 400–500 people (men and women, aged 20–60, and children), including about 20 people in military-type clothing, gathered at Freedom Square. About six to ten police officers were present. The SMM also observed similar gatherings of about 400 people in Mykolaiv (58km north-west of Kherson) and Chernivtsi. All these events ended peacefully.
30.11.2017 – the fourth anniversary of the Maidan events
In Kyiv, the SMM observed a gathering to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Maidan events. On the evening of 29 November the SMM saw about 60 people (all ages, 70 per cent men) gathering in Independence Square to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Maidan events as well as about 100 police and riot police officers. The participants lit torches and marched up Heroiv Nebesnoi Sotni Alley and Instytutska Street, where they were joined by 50 men dressed in black (some with balaclavas) wearing patches of the Donbas battalion and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The SMM saw participants throwing flares at police officers. The participants continued towards the Ministry of Internal Affairs building, followed by about 200 police officers. Another 100 police officers were seen standing outside the ministry building. Also outside the ministry building, some of the participants gave speeches, and others were seen lighting up flares and smokescreens. The participants wearing black outfits marched towards the Parliament building. When one of these tried to set up a small tent, police officers intervened, which led to multiple small clashes and participants throwing flares, firecrackers and snowballs at police. The SMM observed a participant being detained by police. When the SMM departed about 20 minutes later, a dozen participants remained near the ministry building.
Gedenkpraktiken im Jahr 2015 laut den Berichten der OSZE-Beobachtermission, Ukraine-Analysen 162, 27.01.2016, Externer Link: http://www.laender-analysen.de/ukraine/pdf/UkraineAnalysen162.pdf