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OSCE sends negotiating team to free detainees in eastern Ukraine

26 April 2014, 17:02 -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has dispatched a negotiating team to try to secure the release of military observers sent by the organization, a German government source said on Saturday. 'A negotiating team from the OSCE is on the way to the region,' said the source, declining to give further details, including exactly where they were heading, Reuters reports.

Russia taking measures to free OSCE military observers - Kremlin

Moscow is taking steps to free the international military observers working for OSCE which were allegedly detained by the pro-federalization protesters near the Ukraine's eastern city of Slavyansk, said a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry published Saturday. The Russian side to the extent possible is taking measures to resolve the situation, which has arisen after international military observers were detained near Slavyansk, the statement said.

The OSCE military observers were invited to Ukraine in March under the 2011 Vienna Document on military transparency, said Kiev interim authorities. According to the document, the receiving side is responsible for the safety of the observers.

'Thus, it would be logical to expect from the current Kiev authorities to preliminary coordinate all issues involving location, activities and safety of the observers in the regions where these authorities do not control the situation and where they launched a military operation against the people of their own country,' the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

On Friday, the press service of the OSCE reported that the military verification team, coordinated by Germany, included four German military experts and one representative from these countries: Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

The detained team is 'not OSCE monitors' but international military mission sent by OSCE member states in accordance with the 2011 Vienna Document on military transparency, the organization explained on Twitter.

Russia to make moves to free OSCE military experts – official

Russia will take all possible steps to free detained OSCE military observers in the Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, TASS reports, citing Russia's envoy to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Russian Ambassador to the OSCE Andrei Kelin told reporters that Russia favours a speedy release of the OSCE military experts who are reported to have been detained in Slavyansk.

Kelin added that his personnel were unaware of the circumstances under which the experts were detained, or the whereabouts of the group. Kelin said Russia was concerned about the situation, just as all other OSCE member-states.

Slavyansk self-defense not to release OSCE observers as 'spies' among them

The Slavyansk self-defense forces do not intend to release foreign military observers detained in the East of Ukraine, because they are considered to be 'spies,' a representative of the local militia said at a press briefing in Slavyansk on Saturday.

The day before, 'People's mayor' of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, informed RIA Novosti that at one of the roadblocks, supporters of federalization had stopped a bus allegedly with representatives of the OSCE accompanied by Ukrainian officers.

According to him, there were 12 people in the bus, and the militiamen suspect that four of them are officers of the Ukrainian General Staff. Others are allegedly former and acting officers from European countries. According to the statement of the Ukrainian side, they worked in accordance with the Vienna Agreement of 2011 on confidence-building measures and security.

'They have military maps of Slavyansk on them with marked roadblocks, as well as ammunition and military badges,' a representative of the militia said on Saturday.

Journalists were also shown the documents of the detainees whose names are John Christensen (Denmark), Krzysztof Kobelsky (Poland), Axel Schneider (Germany), in which the military observers were called 'officers.' According to head of the provisional government of the Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, who came to take part in negotiations, the militia suspects the detainees of espionage 'in favor of NATO.'

According to activists, there were four citizens of Germany in the bus, and also representatives of Denmark, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. 'There were also officers of the General Staff of Ukraine in the delegation,' Pushilin stated noting that the militia was going to exchange them 'for our prisoners, in particular, for Pavel Gubarev(arrested 'People's Governor' of Donetsk).'

Pushilin also assured journalists that the detainees were treated kindly.

Source: team-to-free-detainees-in-eastern-Ukraine-7193/

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