Separatists say monitors could be freed in exchange for fighters held by Ukrainian forces
SLAVYANSK, Ukraine - A team of seven military observers abducted on Friday by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk have been shown to the media.
The observers were being treated as "guests" of Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the leader of the armed pro-Russian militants controlling the city, Ponomarev said during a press conference on Sunday.
He said he was ready to free the team in exchange for the release of his armed supporters arrested by forces loyal to the government in Kiev.
A delegation from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe are meeting with Ponomarev on Sunday in Slavyansk in the hope of securing the observers' release.
The head of the observer group, Axel Schneider, told journalists that the monitors did not see themselves as captives, but did not know when they would be freed or on what terms.
Schneider said they agreed to hold a press conference so that their families could see them.
The observers held by the pro-Russians are from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
They were abducted on their way from Kramatorsk to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine along with five Ukrainian military officials.
Schneider said they had not been informed about the state of the Ukrainian officials.
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