European observers kidnapped in Ukraine freed

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The seven kidnapped members of an observation mission from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been released

The seven kidnapped members of an observation mission from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been released

DONETSK – The seven kidnapped military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were released and handed over Saturday to Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland and Russian representative Vladimir Lukin at a check point outside the city of Slavyansk.

Pro-Russian armed groups had detained the delegation and five Ukrainian soldiers accompanying them April 25. They were abducted on their way from Kramatorsk to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Jaglad said, "I am very happy and relieved over the release of the hostages.”

Germany has sent a military plane to Ukraine to convey the released observers, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said.

“If everything goes well as planned, the plane carrying the OSCE observers will arrive at Berlin’s Tegel Airport tonight,” von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Steinmeier.

Von der Leyen added that the Danish and Czech defense ministers, as well as high-level officials from Poland and Sweden will be at the airport tonight to welcome the observers.

Government buildings and police stations in several eastern Ukraine cities remain under the control of armed pro-Russia groups, including a prosecutor’s office building in Donetsk. The Ukrainian government launched an operation on Friday to regain control in restive cities.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 46 from a building set on fire during clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian groups in the city of Odessa.

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