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MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. International observers monitoring the ceasefire in Ukraine have drawn renewed harsh criticism from Ukrainian officials, their attacks condemned by Russia's deputy representative to European security watchdog OSCE on Friday as "slanderous and vilifying".
"Slanderous rumours are being spread in Ukraine vilifying observers as ‘foreign spies’," Andrey Rudenko, Moscow’s deputy permanent representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told the OSCE permanent council in Vienna, according to comments cited by Russia's Foreign Ministry.
"Media publications are not only tarnishing the image of the SMM [the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine], but they are also threatening the safety of the observers," Rudenko said.
"Unfortunately, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has joined [the criticism], claiming in an interview with [Ukrainian television’s] Channel 5 that the observers could allegedly have shared with representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk some intelligence on Ukrainian forces’ positions," the envoy said, referring to the two self-proclaimed republics of troubled east Ukraine's Donbas region.
"Such statements are inadmissible," Rudenko went on. "We have to remind the Ukrainian side that under a memorandum of understanding with the OSCE, it [the Ukrainian government] is fully responsible for the observers’ safety."
A peace deal struck on February 12 in Minsk, Belarus, by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and the militias starting February 15, followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement and prisoner release.
Among the terms of the deal was an agreement for international observers sent by the 57 member states of the OSCE to monitor the truce.