It's been 30 days since a group of four OSCE election observers, including one Estonian, were snatched a day after presidental elections were held in Ukraine.
Andrei Purgin, the first deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told Interfax on Wednesday that militiamen, in the Donetsk region may release them within days.
"Four OSCE observers are so far in Severodonetsk," Purgin said. "Very good conditions have been provided to them, this is not a prison at all, and they are living in comfort. Simultaneously, they serve as guarantors against attacks on the city, where a very hazardous chemical facility is located, the destruction of which could cause a horrible environmental disaster.
"Negotiations are currently under way, and the observers will be released soon. This won't be an exchange of hostages but an act of goodwill. They will be able to return home without any preconditions," he said.
The OSCE has made contact with the presumed kidnappers of its monitors in Ukraine, but the communication channel is still fragile, dpa reports Swiss President Didier Burkhalter saying.
"We haven't had the possibility to build a strong relation with the hostage-takers, which would be good for finding a solution, because the contacts are infrequent," said Burkhalter, who chairs the OSCE.
Burkhalter says he will discuss with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to see how their release can be worked out. There are a total of eight observers who have been detained in the country in the last few weeks.