OSCE monitor handcuffed & blindfolded by Kiev's security agents, released 'with apologies'

An OSCE representative checks on the presence of heavy artillery in the place of its deployment in the village of Ulyanovskoye, Amvrosiyevsky District, Donetsk Region.(RIA Novosti / Sergey Averin)
Ukrainian Security Services “agents” have detained, blindfolded and handcuffed an OSCE monitor in the Kiev-controlled city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. Having found out his identity, the three men in balaclavas released the monitor “with apologies.”

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in its daily report confirmed that as soon as one of its members disembarked the train in Kramatorsk on Thursday, he was immediately apprehended by men in civilian clothes wearing sky-masks.

“An SMM monitor was approached by three men in civilian clothes, two of them wearing balaclavas and holstered weapons. The monitor was handcuffed and hooded before being asked to identify himself,” the report says.

The organization does not provide any details as to how long the monitor was held handcuffed or how the person was treated. OSCE notes, however, that once the identity was established, “he was released with apologies.”

“The men identified themselves as members of the State Security Services of Ukraine (SBU),” the mission revealed.

Meanwhile, the March 19 report mentions a number of violations of the fragile ceasefire on both sides – the Ukrainian army and the Donetsk and Lugansk People Republic (DPR and LPR) forces.

For instance, some five kilometers west of DPR controlled Shyrokyne village, for two hours the observers witnessed “three Ukrainian Armed Forces tanks firing approximately 90 tank rounds at ‘DPR’-held positions.” In return the SMM heard“30 incoming tank rounds impacting close to Ukrainian Armed Forces positions” as well as mortar shells.

Overall, OSCE representatives were stopped at two separate Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints near Volnovakha and prevented from accessing their surveillance drone launching site. In the LPR-controlled Stakhanov SMM monitor was delayed at a checkpoint for 20 minutes and refused entry to a repair facility.

The report concludes that the security situation in Donbas remains “fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere.”

READ MORE: ‘Glaring breach’: Minsk ‘violation’ sees Russia urge France, Germany to act on Ukraine

The OSCE is currently employing 460 monitors from 42 countries across ten cities in Ukraine, including 350 in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The mission observes the implementation of the Minsk agreement that envisages a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons followed by a political dialogues between the sides to resolve the crisis.

Kiev however did not make an attempt to even start dialogue with the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

“Immediately after the withdrawal of heavy weapons, a dialogue on the modalities of the election in the respective regions of Donetsk and Lugansk was supposed to begin,” Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov said. “The modality of the elections, in line with the Minsk agreements, must be in accord with Donetsk and Lugansk. Nobody even tried to do it.”

Instead of introducing a special order of government in Donbass until the elections are held there in accordance with Ukrainian laws, Kiev declared them to be temporarily occupied territories.

Meanwhile Russian President, Vladimir Putin after a meeting with the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan on Friday expressed hopes that Kiev will strictly adhere to the Minsk Accords. “We do expect that the authorities in Kiev will fully comply with the Minsk Accords,” Putin said according to TASS.