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Ukraine OSCE observers freed by Slovyansk pro-Russian separatists

Ukraine OSCE observers freed by Slovyansk pro-Russian separatists
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A group of military observers who were seized last week by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk has been released, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed on Saturday.

“We can now confirm the release of the military observers,” said a spokeswoman for the OSCE, under whose auspices the military verification officers led by German defence ministry staff were in Ukraine, at Ukraine’s request.

Reports say five Ukrainians with them have also been released.

The town’s self-declared mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, said there were no conditions attached, adding that the group from the OSCE had been his “guests”.

Russia’s envoy in the area Vladimir Lukin said all those on his list had been freed.

A Swedish monitor suffering from health problems was let go earlier.

The observers, including four Germans, represent individual OSCE states but are not part of its main mission agreed after international negotiations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said that their release would ease tensions in the region.

The news comes as the Ukrainian government resumes its attacks against separatists in the east – and the day after deadly violence in the southern city of Odessa.