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MOSCOW, April 26. /ITAR-TASS/. In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, April 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an end to the army operation against protesters in southeastern Ukraine and for stopping aggressive actions of ultranationalists from the Right Sector.
Lavrov also urged Kerry to use his influence for getting arrested protest leaders released.
“He [Lavrov] once again highlighted the issue of political prisoners and urged the United States to use its influence in order to get detained protest leaders in the South-East of Ukraine released. The secretary’s attention was drawn to the proposals put forth by the Party of Regions and public movements in the South-East regarding the start of a nationwide dialogue and constitutional reform,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Kerry assured Lavrov that Washington would seek to use its possibilities to prod the Kiev authorities into taking concrete steps to ease tensions and expressed hope that south-eastern regions would reciprocate.
Lavrov and Kerry also discussed the steps being taken to settle the incident with the detention of European military observers who have arrived in Ukraine at Kiev’s invitation under the Vienna Document of 2011 on confidence- and security-building measures. They travelled to the South-East without properly notifying the public bodies that are controlling the situation in the region.
On Friday, April 25, supporters of federalisation detained a bus with passengers, with unarmed military observers from OSCE countries among them. The observers are staying in the east of Ukraine at the invitation of the Kiev authorities.
The OSCE confirmed to ITAR-TASS that these were not members of the Special Monitoring Mission or the election observation mission but had been sent to Ukraine by individual OSCE member states in accordance with the Vienna Document on confidence- and security-building measures.
Yevgeny Gorbik, a spokesperson for the supporters of federalisation, told reporters that the detained military observers had been engaged in intelligence activities.
“The humanitarian group of the [OSCE] mission has denied any relation to them… They [observers] had intelligence agents, cryptograms, and notebooks with secret notes”, Gorbik said. “A Bulgarian officer had a notebook with notes in Russian which confirm his intelligence activities and speak of a meeting with agents,” he added.
“No charges have been brought against them so far. But they’ve ended up in a company that calls into question the legitimacy of their activities,” Gorbik said, adding, “The investigation is underway to find out what they were doing and where”.