Remaining OSCE Members Freed by Pro-Russian Forces in Sloviansk

Remaining OSCE Members Freed by Pro-Russian Forces in Sloviansk

Pro-Russian forces in Sloviansk finally released seven members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) along with five members of the Ukrainian defense ministry. The members were abducted on April 25 on suspicions of being NATO spies.

The OSCE released this statement to the media:

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is delighted with news of the release of the military observers held hostage since Friday 25 April and pleased to have been able to assist the Ukrainian authorities in the efforts that led to their release.

Deputy chief monitor Mark Etherington and his team have been in Donetsk for more than a week in order to ensure and carry out daily contacts in the release of the monitors held in Slovjansk.

We commend the tireless and committed efforts of Mr Etherington and his team, as well as all parties who contributed to this positive outcome.

We are grateful to the OSCE Chairmanship in Office and the OSCE Secretary General and his team for their valuable support.

Eight members from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, and Sweden were on a mission to observe the situation between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians in Sloviansk as agreed by Russia, Ukraine, the European Union, and the US in Geneva on April 17. Despite the agreement and general knowledge the OSCE members would be in town, the pro-Russians justified the kidnapping because the observers had maps with cities and checkpoints circled.

On April 27, the pro-Russians paraded the captured OSCE members in front of the media in a tightly controlled press conference. Not long after the press conference, the forces released the Swedish member for medical reasons.