Residential areas of my hometown of Gorlovka (Horlivka) have been subjected to consistent and indiscriminate shelling by the Ukrainian military throughout the spring of 2015 for the entire duration of the so-called ceasefire. Damage from the shelling can be seen in every part of the city. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has failed to report most instances while the few instances it has reported are spun in ways that go against its stated purpose "to observe and report in an impartial and objective way on the situation in Ukraine; and to facilitate dialogue among all parties to the crisis."
Here are just two examples of OSCE "reporting".
On May 26, Gorlovka's soutwestern suburb of Ozeryanovka was shelled from the town of Dzerzhinsk, which is controlled by the Ukrainian troops and is located to the north-north-west of the suburb. The house of the Touv family sustained a direct hit, which killed the father and his 11-year-old daughter, maimed the mother, and sent the two surviving children (one of them a two-week-old baby) to the hospital. You can view the interview with the mother, Anna, recorded by Graham Phillips to whose video I added English subtitles, posting it here and here.
OSCE observers visited the scene and did state that "the craters were caused by incoming artillery from the north-north-west." (http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/160611)
Then OSCE decided to qualify this report with the following statement:
The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, head of the Ukrainian side to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk) alleged that the 26 May shelling of Horlivka came from Mine 6-7 (42km north-north-east of Donetsk and 7km north-west of Horlivka respectively), in areas controlled by “DPR”. The Major General alleged that the shelling was observed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC office in government-controlled Volnovakha (35km south-west of Donetsk)."
This immediately raises the following questions:
- How is Ukrainian general's allegation (hardly an unbiased party) from Soledar (50 kilometers from Ozeryanovka) referring to a supposed observation by another Ukrainian military representative in Volnovakha (100 kilometers away from Ozeryanovka!) objective and impartial?
- OSCE publishes allegations from a Ukrainian general and a Ukrainian "Armed Forces" representative who were in far-away locations. Why did OSCE choose not to publish what the local residents, who witnessed the shelling or one of the victims herself OSCE had spoken to (see Part 2 of the interview with Anna for some of that), were saying?
- OSCE publishes allegations from a Ukrainian general and a Ukrainian "Armed Forces" representative from far-away locations. Why does OSCE not point out what rebel commanders in the city that was shelled had to say?
- Why does OSCE directly mention that the shelling may have come from the areas controlled by "DPR" but does not directly mention "government-controlled areas", which is in fact what the areas to the north-north-west of Ozeryanovka are?
- Why is "DPR""emergency services" in quotation marks?
- Did OSCE bother to look at the map to see where Mine 6-7 is located? First, Mine 6-7 is in fact in Horlivka - not outside of it. Second, Mine 6-7 is to the north of Ozeryanovka, while Ukrainian-controlled Dzerzhinsk is indeed to the north-north-west.
- Did OSCE bother to point out that the rebel-controlled neighborhood of Mine 6-7 is one of the most devastated parts of the city? Who has been shelling Mine 6-7 - also the rebels?
I sent these questions to OSCE and received only an automated response and no answers to any of the questions.
On the night of June 10-11, Gorlovka's City Block 245 was shelled by the Ukrainian military from the Dzerzhinsk-Mayorsk area, killing three women and wounding at least three people. OSCE observers came to the city, inspected the damage, talked to the local residents and published the following in their report: In Horlivka [...] the SMM was approached by around 70 local inhabitants, visibly upset and distressed and verbally aggressive and critical towards the SMM. Some members of the crowd made violent threats. The SMM left the scene after the OSCE flag was broken off the vehicle and thrown to the ground. A Russian Federation Armed Forces representative of the JCCC’s office in Horlivka was present when the incident occurred. [...] the water supply continues to be problematic due to the damage of the water pipe in Horlivka.
That's all they wrote on that day!
Fortunately, a local television crew shadowed the OSCE observers and published the video (the relevant portion with English subtitles along with the link to the original video can be seen here. Note one of the OSCE observers' repeated threats "to leave", her attitude, and the way she speaks to the local residents.
I sent the following letter to a number of OSCE contacts:
On Sat, Jun 13, 2015 at 7:00 AM, Captain Fifteen wrote:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Iryna.Gudyma@osce.org, email@example.com, Ertugrul.Apakan@osce.org
Dear OSCE representatives,
I received only an automated response to the previous email I sent to a number of you at OSCE and no answers to any of my questions.
My hometown of Gorlovka (Horlivka) has been shelled pretty much every day by the Ukrainian military, including this morning, yet none of you seem to take much notice of it. The only thing you could write about Gorlovka in your recent reports was this: "In Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-north-east of Donetsk) the SMM was approached by around 70 local inhabitants, visibly upset and distressed and verbally aggressive and critical towards the SMM. Some members of the crowd made violent threats. The SMM left the scene after the OSCE flag was broken off the vehicle and thrown to the ground."(http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/164126) Is that all your people saw in Gorlovka? Do you not have any shame?! Do your people not see the damage the regular shelling of the city has caused?! Would you like me to explain why the locals were "upset and distressed and verbally aggressive and critical towards the SMM" or can you perhaps figure it out on your own?
Your mission has been intentionally ignoring the level of suffering of local residents and the degree of destruction on the DPR- and LPR-controlled territory. Your mission has been covering up the criminal actions of and further emboldening those in Kiev who ordered and have been conducting this brutal military campaign in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, thus achieving the opposite of what your stated purpose is. Well, let it be on your conscience, if you have any left. Shame on you!
After this, OSCE ended up backtracking and adding more detail about the shelling incident on the next day's report (backdating it to June 11: http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/164141), but here are the questions I have:
- Why did OSCE not publish these findings on the day it was supposed to and instead required a prod sent to a number of contacts throughout the organization in order to publish their findings?
- In the backdated report, OSCE does admit that "most of the impacts originated from a north to south direction", which, for the area that was hit, implicates the areas controlled by the Ukrainian government troops. Why isn't that part mentioned in the report?
- How many other instances of shelling of rebel-controlled areas go un- and underreported or completely distorted as we saw in OSCE's June 12 report?