SMM’s freedom of movement in Donbas still restricted – report.

On March 26, members of the armed formations again denied attempts of the SMM to cross into non-government-controlled areas – three times in Donetsk region and once in Luhansk region, all along official crossing routes.

According to an OSCE report, at about 09:35 at the checkpoint of the armed formations south of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations denied an SMM foot patrol – comprising four members walking from government-controlled areas – passage into non-government-controlled areas, citing “orders from superiors”.

At about 10:10 at a checkpoint near Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 85km south of Donetsk), three members (two visibly armed) of the armed formations denied an SMM patrol – comprising two vehicles and six members travelling from government-controlled areas – passage into non-government-controlled areas, without providing the reason for denial.

At about 10:14 at a checkpoint near Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 38km north-east of Donetsk), two armed members of the armed formations denied an SMM patrol – comprising two vehicles and six members travelling from government-controlled areas – passage into non-government-controlled areas, citing “restrictions due to quarantine”.

At about 11:35 at a checkpoint near Olenivka (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), an armed member of the armed formations denied an SMM patrol – comprising two vehicles and six members travelling from government-controlled areas – passage into non-government-controlled areas, citing “the closure of the checkpoint due to COVID-19”.

The Mission began facing repeated denials when attempting to cross into non-government-controlled areas at checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk region on 21 March and Luhansk region on 23 March. These restrictions to the SMM’s freedom of movement across the contact line are an impediment to the implementation of its mandate throughout the country.

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