July 23, 2015 / 2:42 PM / 2 years ago

Ukraine separatists protest against OSCE mission in east

DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Around 300 people held a protest against the OSCE in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, picketing a hotel in rebel-held Donetsk in what the security watchdog said was an orchestrated move to restrict its work.

A demonstrator adjusts a placard reading "Red Cross is in blood" on a vehicle of the Red Cross during a protest to demand what protesters say is true information from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) about the shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko

The protesters, mainly women, arrived at the hotel in two buses accompanied by the city’s separatist mayor Igor Martynov. A Reuters witness said they spray-painted peace slogans on the cars belonging to the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) a Reuters witness said.

The OSCE said the crowd was protesting the deaths of civilians in shelling despite a ceasefire deal and also against the work of the OSCE, which is monitoring the implementation of a peace agreement between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels.

“We have to limit our movements in the aftermath,” Alexander Hug, the deputy head of the OSCE’s monitoring mission said in Kiev, condemning the “orchestrated” protest as a “type of censorship of our activity that is not acceptable.”

He accused both sides of failing to respect the ceasefire by not fully withdrawing their heavy artillery as required by the peace agreement, which was brokered in February to end a conflict in which over 6,500 have been killed.

Three Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and over 40 wounded as a result of rebel attacks in the past week, according to Ukraine’s military.

On Thursday separatist officials accused Ukrainian troops of intensifying attacks from heavy artillery on rebel positions, but reported no casualties.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Serhiy Karazy; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Dominic Evans

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