OSCE Head Says Captive Election Observers Alive, Working on Release
Two OSCE election teams taken prisoner in eastern Ukraine are alive, said the secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Lamberto Zannier.
Zannier told reporters that the OSCE was working around the clock to win the captives' freedom, but declined to elaborate, citing the confidential nature of the talks.
"My priority is to win their immediate freedom, without conditions," reported AFP on Tuesday.
A four-member team was seized in the strife-torn Donetsk region on Monday last week, four days after another four observers, including an Estonian, were abducted in neighbouring Luhansk.
Stella Horosheva, the spokeperson for the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told the Russian-language Delfi that their forces have never held the observers and suggested Cossacks in the Luhansk oblast could be responsible, Delfi reported on Tuesday.
“It is probable, because as the Cossacks are on our side, we tend to generalize a bit,” she said.
“All I know about the observers is that they were advised to stay away from combat areas but they ignored the calls and had to be detained. It later transpired that they were carrying some compromising documents,” Horosheva said without elaborating.