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OSCE observers still being blocked in occupied Donetsk.

Russian-backed forces continue to block the hotel in occupied Donetsk where OSCE observers reside, according to daily report 245/2021 published by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine on October 19, 2021.

"The SMM continued to observe a gathering in front of the hotel where Mission members reside in the central part of non-government-controlled Donetsk city. There was no patrol movement in and out of its premises in Donetsk city on 18 October," the report reads.

It says that throughout the day, around the hotel, the SMM observed a gathering of between 20 and 60 people (mixed genders and ages). At the same time, the "protesters" were playing extremely loud music over a speaker. The SMM measured that sound levels reached up to 110 decibels.

"[The SMM] observed that some of them communicated with handheld radios and that they placed wooden pallets on the driveway of the hotel, which could hamper vehicle access to the hotel entrance," the OSCE Mission said.

The report also states that observers saw "several protesters arriving during the morning of 18 October examining, exchanging, and signing papers with what appeared to contain lists of names."

"In the morning of 18 October, three Mission members exited the hotel to perform vehicle checks in the parking lot of the hotel. Ten participants of the gathering (men in their twenties and thirties) in civilian clothes allowed the Mission members to approach the SMM vehicles only after about 2-3 minutes, and one of them (a man in his thirties), informed the Mission members that they would monitor the SMM's maintenance activities," the report said.

At the same time, several of the participants used their mobile devices to record these activities of Mission members. After checking the vehicles, the Mission members returned to the hotel.

"On several occasions during the reporting period, the SMM observed different vehicles blocking the gate leading to the parking lot at the rear of the hotel and the presence of members of the armed formations around the hotel, some of whom were visibly armed)," the report said.

It also notes that due to the situation, the SMM was not able to conduct the regular COVID-19 tests for its staff because of dwindling stocks in addition to not conducting patrols.

According to the report, the gathering near the hotel in Donetsk continued on October 19.

On October 17, via CCTV cameras, the SMM saw two civilians (a woman and a man, in their thirties) attaching a hand-written cardboard poster to the fence of the Mission's office premises in Luhansk city with a message critical of the Mission's activities. The SMM removed the poster.

On October 13, Russian occupation forces resorted to a gross provocation as an armed group wearing armbands of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination were caught red-handed on a reconnaissance mission under the guise of a demining effort near the abandoned positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. One of the group members, Russian national Andrey Kosyak born in 1978, was detained on the spot. Weapons and ammunition were seized from him. Ukraine's law enforcement agencies suspect the man of committing a serious crime in 2010 in accordance with Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine

After that, on October 15, the Russian occupation administration in Donetsk staged a "protest" in front of the hotel where OSCE SMM members reside, criticizing the SMM's activities and specifically events that occurred inside the disengagement area near Zolote on October 13, when a member of the armed formations was reportedly detained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

On October 17, Russian-backed forces blocked the exit from the OSCE SMM's forward patrol base in the temporarily occupied city of Horlivka. Observers were also not allowed to leave the hotel. OSCE monitors were told that "they were not allowed to leave the hotel premises until the member of the armed formations reportedly detained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces inside the disengagement area near Zolote on 13 October had been released."

The OSCE SMM resumed patrolling from its base in Horlivka in the afternoon on October 18.

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