20 September 2015
On 20 September, in Kherson region the SMM monitored blocking of three crossing points to Crimea, namely Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar organized by the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body, the Mejlis. While no trucks were allowed to pass, passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic were allowed through in both directions at all three crossing points. The situation was occasionally tense but there were no incidents. In Kalanchak (95km south-east of Kherson) the SMM observed uniformed members of the Right Sector and Sich Cossacks along with Crimean Tatars. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), regular police, Kherson volunteer police battalion and special police forces were also present. In Kalanchak, there were tensions between protesters and truck drivers after the protesters accused drivers of supporting the Russian army. Truck drivers claimed that the protesters threatened to set their trucks on fire if they did not turn back. The head of the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body, Mr. Chubarov visited the gathering and told the SMM that the blockade would continue indefinitely.
Ten kilometres north of Chaplynka crossing point (90km south-east of Kherson), the SMM observed Crimean Tatars and approximately 25 members of the Right Sector and 50 Sich Cossacks in camouflage clothes. Six regular police officers and 20–25 Kherson police battalion volunteers were present. A group of 20 civilians demonstrated peacefully. In Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson) the roadblock was manned by approximately 50 members of the Right Sector, Maidan Self-Defence and Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Defence and Donbas volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Twenty members of Kherson volunteer police battalion were present. Crimean Tatar representatives blocked the road by walking in circles over the pedestrian road crossing. The SMM observed two empty trucks (with Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia license plates) being stopped by the protesters and prevented from proceeding towards the mainland. The protesters threatened to slash the trucks’ tyres if trucks do not turn back. At the end of its observation, the SMM observed several empty trucks pass the blockade towards Ukraine mainland.
23 September 2015
At the three crossing points to Crimea—Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar (95, 90 and 162km south-east of Kherson, respectively)—the SMM observed a calm situation. The SMM observed fewer cargo trucks queuing at Kalanchak and Chaplynka than on previous days. At Kalanchak, the SMM also observed that about 20 protesters, including Right Sector and Avtomaidan members, Crimean Tatars and a man bearing Chechen insignia, were stopping and searching private vehicles.
27 September 2015
The SMM continued to monitor the situation at the three crossing points to Crimea—Kalanchak, Chaplynka, and Chonhar (95, 90 and 162km south-east of Kherson, respectively)—which was relatively calm and stable. The head of Kalanchak border guards unit told the SMM that an informal co-ordination committee, consisting of the Kherson regional state administration and the local law enforcement agencies assessed on 23 September the practice of protesters checking the trunks of the passenger vehicles and travellers’ belongings (see the SMM Daily Report 24 September 2015) as “wrongful and unlawful”. The SMM did not observe law enforcement preventing protesters from searching vehicles. The SMM observed that protesters continued to check passenger cars on a random basis at the Kalanchak crossing point, even though most of the vehicles could travel unhindered.
30 September 2015
In Kherson, the SMM followed up on media reports about damage caused by an explosion at the Office of the Representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea. The SMM saw a damaged wooden door and a broken window located over the entrance door as well as a small amount of debris. The SMM saw a group of police forensics specialists on site conducting investigation of the premises. A police officer told the SMM that a small explosive device detonated at the doors to the Office around 3:00hrs on 30 September. The police officer said that the investigation department of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kherson region has taken over the investigation.
1 October 2015
Near the Kalanchak checkpoint at the Administrative Boundary Line to Crimea (95km south-east of Kherson), the SMM saw five members of the Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Right Sector, and several Crimean Tatars, checking cars going to and from Crimea. In an area 6km north of the Kalanchak checkpoint, the SMM saw two road blocks, each manned by five or six men wearing camouflage fatigues, some wearing the insignia of Right Sector, Odessa Avtomaidan, Self-defence and the Union of Anti-Terrorist Operation Veterans. Approximately 25 activists from the aforementioned groups (mainly men) were in the vicinity. Nearby, the SMM observed the construction of a checkpoint, supervised by armed men who identified themselves as members of the Kherson volunteer battalion under the MIA.
8 October 2015
At the Kalanchak and Chaplynka crossing points (77 and 70km south-east of Kherson, respectively) on the administrative boundary line with Crimea, district police and the border guard shift commander, respectively, told the SMM on 7 October that many drivers passing through the checkpoints had both officially and unofficially complained about activists searching their vehicles. Activists at both crossing points told the SMM that drivers generally agreed to have their vehicles searched. The border guard shift commander at Kalanchak told the SMM on 7 October that four drivers attempting to cross the administrative boundary line had the previous day refused to allow activists to search their vehicles. He said in one instance, activists had smashed the rear window of one car. A Right Sector member confirmed the allegation to the SMM but claimed the action had come after the car had driven over an activist’s foot.
15 October 2015
On 12–13 October the SMM monitored the situation at Chonhar and Kalanchak crossing points (160km and 92km south-east of Kherson respectively) at the administrative boundary line with Crimea. The SMM observed activists logging the licence plates of the travelling vehicles into a notebook computer, while an interlocutor had told the SMM that the activists also run these numbers through a computer programme.
The SMM also observed that the law enforcement personnel present at the checkpoints run by activists were actively involved in the joint searches of the passenger vehicles. This reflects a contrast with the situation several days ago (see SMM Daily Report 9 October 2015) when the activists in camouflage clothes alone conducted the vehicle searches. A representative of the Kherson police battalion said that his unit conducted vehicles checks jointly with the civil activists, a traffic police unit, and two police officers from the district headquarters. The SMM witnessed one male driver questioning the legality of the search of his vehicle, which was being conducted jointly by law enforcement and the activists.
A Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) member told the SMM that similar arrangements on joint vehicle searches by activists and law enforcement personnel were in place at Chaplynka (70km south-east of Kherson) crossing point.
18 October 2015
In Kherson the SMM followed up on an incident, which according to Kherson deputy police chief had involved the use of an explosive device in an apparent attempt on 7 October to destroy an electricity supply pylon in the vicinity of Chonhar (160km south-east of Kherson). Next to the remnants of an old pylon the SMM observed a new pylon had been erected, which is a part of the power grid supplying Crimea with electricity. A resident from a neighbouring settlement told the SMM that the explosion had occurred some 2km away and its power had caused the glass windows to shake. The interlocutor said that local residents believed the incident was linked to the Crimea “blockade”, since before it began the area was quiet. In a conversation with the SMM, a Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) member participating in the “blockade” stated his group had not been involved.
20 October 2015
Near the checkpoint at Chonhar (162km, south-east of Kherson), on the Administrative Boundary Line between Crimea and Kherson region, the SMM observed damage and repair works to a pylon supplying electricity to the Crimean peninsula, where an explosion was reported in the early hours. The incident site is approximately 1km from the site where another pylon from the same power grid was damaged on 7 October 2015 (see SMM Daily Report 18 October 2015). At the site, the SMM observed the police keeping a security perimeter of some 300m as well as an Explosive Ordnance Unit from the Kherson regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), who removed three 82mm mortars, which had been taped to the pylon with detonators positioned in between. Local and national media as well as Crimean Tatars, Azov battalion under the MIA and Right Sector activists were also present at the site.