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Federalization supporters and Kiev authorities negotiate exchange of OSCE observers

May 01, 2014, 14:07 UTC+3

The supporters of federalization are also holding three SBU employees, Sloviansk popular mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said

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KIEV, May 1. /ITAR-TASS/. Supporters of Sloviansk federalization are holding negotiations with Kiev authorities about the possible exchange of the detained military observers from Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) member states for their associates. Ukraine’s UNN news agency reported this on Thursday.

The military observers “remain in Sloviansk, we have provided them with comfortable conditions, our relations are friendly. Of course, they want to go home, and we are already holding relevant negotiations with Kiev authorities. We hope that we’ll manage to exchange them for our associates that have been detained in Kiev,” the agency quoted the popular mayor of Sloviansk Vyacheslav Ponomaryov as saying.

He added that they continue to hold three employees of Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU), who were detained on Friday together with OSCE experts.

“They are also with us, they are well; we will also try to exchange them,” Ponomaryov said.

How the observers were detained

A group of OSCE military observers from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden arrived in the Donetsk region April 22.

April 25, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported that it lost communication with representatives of the OSCE mission in Donetsk region. According to spokesperson for Ukraine’s Minisatry of Foreign Affairs Yevhen Perebiynis, they could be kidnapped. The spokesperson added that “in case these reports prove true, OSCE and Ukraine will respond adequately”.

Observers group accused of espionage

Sloviansk local authorities temporarily detained the OSCE observers group suspecting it in comprising an SBU officer, according to Reuters news agency.

“I received a report that among them (OSCE observers) there was a secret military officer,” Sloviansk mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov was quoted as saying. “It is unacceptable that people who came here as observers from the European community brought a spy with them.”

April 26, representative of federalization supporters Yevgeniy Gorbik said that the detained observers were engaging in intelligence activities.

“The humanitarian group of the (OSCE) mission has rejected them,” he said. “They said that had not anything to do with them. In their company there were intelligence agents, cryptograms, notepads with secret notes.”

“The Bulgarian officer had a notepad with notes in Russian that prove his secret activities. The case in hand is a meeting with agents,” Gorbik said.

“So far they are not accused of anything, they are just detained. But they are in such a circle that raises doubts about the legality of their actions,” the representative of federalization supporters said. “At present, a check is being carried out; it is operatively checked where and what they have been doing,” he said.

Release of Swedish military observer

April 27, Swedish authorities confirmed the release of Swedish military OSCE observer, 57-year-old Major Tommas Juhansson in Sloviansk. СВТ TV channel reported that he was free and well, and had a phone conversation with Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.

“This was one of the best phone conversations recently. Thanks to everyone who helped it happen,” the minister said.

The Defense Ministry of Sweden also confirmed the report about Juhansson’s release, but declined to comment his location.

“He is free. However, we cannot say where he is. We do not comment on it,” the ministry’s spokesperson noted.

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