Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Russia targets McDonald's over tensions with West

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola: Liberian authorities admit 17 patients are missing

Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Deadly street battles hit Ukrainian rebel stronghold

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Europe

Ukraine says OSCE hostages used as ‘human shields’

Video by Sanam SHANTYAEI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-27

Ukraine said eight captive international observers were being used as human shields, while pro-Russian rebels holding the group accused them of being "NATO spies" and said they would be freed only in a prisoner exchange.

Ukraine said eight captive international observers were being used as human shields, while pro-Russian rebels holding the group accused them of being "NATO spies" and said they would be freed only in a prisoner exchange.

"Yesterday, we arrested some NATO spies ... they will be exchanged for our own prisoners. I don't see any other way they will be freed," said Denis Pushilin, the head of the insurgents' self-declared Donetsk Republic, in comments to reporters on Saturday.

Pushilin was speaking in front of the SBU security services building in rebel-held Slaviansk, where the team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was being held.

The OSCE has dispatched a negotiating team to try to secure the release of observers, a German government source said on Saturday.

Russian involvement

Earlier on Saturday, Russia also pledged to help the captured observers.

"We believe that these people should be released as soon as possible," Russia's envoy to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Andrei Kelin, told Russia's state RIA Novosti news agency. Russian's foreign ministry also issued a statement saying Moscow was "taking measures" to resolve the situation, but did not provide details.

Still, the pro-Western government in Kiev did not seem convinced by Russia’s pledges. Ukraine blamed Russia for what it called the kidnapping.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia to support efforts to free the observers. Kerry also told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a call Saturday that the United States is concerned that Moscow’s actions are “undermining stability, security and unity” in Ukraine.

The State Department says Kerry cited Russia’s “provocative” troop movements along the border, Moscow’s support for separatists and Russia’s “inflammatory rhetoric.”

Spying accusations

Slaviansk’s self-styled mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told Russian TV news crews that the OSCE members were being considered "intelligence officers of NATO country members".

"Military personnel from Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, I think, and – from somewhere else, I can't immediately recall – have been detained," he said in broadcasts aired in Moscow.

"We believe an OSCE mission does not imply the participation of military personnel entering our territory unimpeded and studying our facilities," he said.

The observers were detained Friday at the entrance to Slaviansk and taken to the rebel-held security services building.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the pro-Russian separatists had taken 13 mission members, including three members of the German army and an interpreter.

Washington called for the immediate release of the OSCE team and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki repeated claims that "there is a strong connection between – Russia and these separatists" who are now taking hostages.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his Twitter feed that one of the OSCE members was a Swede.

The OSCE headquarters in Vienna said that all the observers in its main mission on the ground in Ukraine were accounted for.

However, the detained group appears to be part of a separate, smaller unarmed military verification mission under German command.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

 

 

Date created : 2014-04-26

  • UKRAINE

    G7 agrees new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Russian warplanes violated Ukraine's airspace, says Pentagon

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Court probes 'crimes against humanity' in Ukraine

    Read more

COMMENT(S)