TASS, October 17. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has suspended its operations in Donbass due to security considerations, Reuters said on Sunday citing the mission’s head Yasar Halit Cevik.
"Because of our safety concerns and because of our safety rules and considerations we suspended our operations," he said.
According to the agency, a protest rally was held in front of the mission’s headquarters in Donetsk demanding the release of an officer of the mission of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC) who had been seized by Ukrainian troops.
The LPR foreign ministry said earlier on Sunday that after talks with LPR Foreign Minister and the republic’s chief negotiator in the Contact Group Vladislav Deinego, deputy chief of the OSCE SMM Mark Etherington promised to probe into the incident,
In the morning on October 13, a Ukrainian reconnaissance party seized an officer of the LPR mission to the JCCC in the disengagement zone near the settlement of Zolotoye during road clearance works that had been previously agreed with the Ukrainian side. The republic demanded an immediate release of the man. On Thursday, Ukraine’s Security Service said that the man had been charged with the organization of an illegal armed group, alleging he had been using a mine clearance operation as a cover for reconnaissance activities. LPR Head Leonid Pasechnik said that further dialogue with Kiev within the Minsk format is senseless until the officer is released. The LPR’s mission to the JCCC restricted a number of routes for SMM monitors.