OSCE: SMM did not see any civilians crossing the Zolotoye checkpoint
The OSCE SMM has said that no civilians crossed the Zolotoye checkpoint allegedly opened by the Ukrainian side.
The report based on information received as of 19:30, 24 March 2019 reads:
"The SMM followed up on the announcement by the Ukrainian authorities that they would open the entry-exit checkpoint near Zolotoye for civilian passage on March24 …The SMM did not see any civilians crossing the checkpoint".
There were contradictory reports coming from Ukraine concerning Zolotoye situation. The border guard service reported that the Zolotoye checkpoint was launched at 7.00 a.m. local time March 24 following the decision of the JFO commender Sergey Nayev. At around noon the text on Zolotoye was withdrawn from the report.
Nevertheless, at approximately the same time Kiev's representative at the Minsk talks Irina Geraschenko said in her Facebook post that her colleague Evgeniy Marchuk was in contact with Nayev over the opening of the crossing point. Nayev reportedly announced everything was ready, though the JFO press service previously announced on its Facebook page that it was not possible to open the Zolotoye checkpoint.
In the afternoon March 24, reports emerged saying that the crossing point was operating, and in the evening, the border guard said 142 people crossed it during the day.
In the report published on Monday, March 25, the Zolotoye checkpoint was not included in the list of operational crossing points.
LPR said that the unilateral opening or repairs are merely provocations and part of the election campaigning on the eve of the Ukrainian presidential election.
On October 20, 2017, Ukraine made a provocative attempt to unilaterally open the Zolotoye crossing point despite the LPR’s objections.
LPR Foreign Minister representing the Republic at Minsk talks Vladislav Deinego later said that LPR's condition is that the two crossing points in Schastye and Zolotoye be opened simultaneously. “For Lugansk and much of the LPR territory, it is far more important to open the crossing point via the bridge in Schastye, in terms of logistics and capacity,” the diplomat said.
He reminded that the Zolotoye checkpoint may be opened only after the withdrawal of forces from the Stanitsa Luganskaya sector.
Currently there is only one official checkpoint at the line of contact in LPR area of responsibility in Donbass and it is accessible via the bridge in the vicinity of Stanitsa Luganskaya. Only pedestrian traffic there is possible as a temporary wooden ramp has been installed over the collapsed sections of the bridge. The bridge sustained damage after it had been blown up by Ukrainian forces on March 19, 2015. LPR has been continuously proposing to rebuild it.
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