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OSCE military observers held in Sloviansk unlikely to be released soon

April 30, 2014, 19:00 UTC+3 BERLIN
The OSCE confirmed that these people were not members of the Special Monitoring Mission but had been sent to Ukraine by individual OSCE member states in accordance with the Vienna Document
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Press conference of the captured OSCE military observers in Sloviansk, Apr. 27

Press conference of the captured OSCE military observers in Sloviansk, Apr. 27

© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev

BERLIN, April 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Military observers from some of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) countries who have been captured by police in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk will not be released any time soon, the city’s people’s mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev told Bild Online on Wednesday, April 30.

“OSCE representatives will make one more visit today and we will hold further talks,” he said. “We are engaged in a dialogue, but I do not think the release will take place today or tomorrow.”

Ponomarev also said that the Russian leadership was not exerting any pressure in this situation.

The European military observers detained by police in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk were not who they claimed to be and reported a false purpose of the visit, Ponomarev said earlier.

The detainees said they “have come on a sightseeing tour” but had a map marking the police’s positions, he said.

“When they asked about the purpose of their visit, they said they had come for a sightseeing tour. In other words, they gave false information from the very beginning,” Ponomarev said, adding that they had a map indicating the police’s positions.

“Let me tell you that the map alone would be enough to speak about spying,” he said.

“The military were on our territory without our permission and were detained of course,” he said.

“What we should do with them we will know after we have determined who they are and what brought them here,” Ponomarev said, adding that the detainees were being held in “normal conditions”. “One of the military officials has diabetes, but we have necessary medications and food (for him).”

Ponomarev said the supporters of federalisation were ready to exchange the detained military for their comrades being held by the Kiev authorities.

“The Kiev junta is holding our comrades. But we are ready for an exchange if there is such a chance,” he said.

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”.

On April 25, supporters of federalisation in Sloviansk, a city in the south-East of Ukraine, 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 people 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.

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