OSCE Observers Released in Slavyansk

World Today

The hostage crisis in eastern Ukraine is over. Seven military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and their five Ukrainian assistants, have been released. The team had been held for over a week by anti-government militia in the city of Slavyansk. CCTV’s Kate Parkinson was there when they were freed and spoke to some of them.

OSCE Observers Released in Slavyansk

OSCE Observers Released in Slavyansk

The hostage crisis in eastern Ukraine is over. Seven military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and their five Ukrainian assistants, have been released. The team had been held for over a week by anti-government militia in the city of Slavyansk. CCTV's Kate Parkinson was there when they were freed and spoke to some of them.

Standing outside the occupied city hall in Slavyansk just moments after their release

All seven of the European military observers who were sized at a checkpoint on the edge of the city are now free.

The self-proclaimed Mayor of Slavyansk, who has repeatedly called them his guests rather that hostages, described their detention as a misunderstanding.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent an envoy to southeast Ukraine to negotiate the release of European military observers and despite earlier suggestions that the eastern militia were seeking a prisoner exchange the Russian envoy said no deal had been done.

Vladimir Lukin, Russian Envoy in Hostage Negotiations, says: “It is an unconditional release, the release was with no conditions but we hope, and we want very much, that after humanitarian act other humanitarian acts will follow. First of all, stop the armed clashes and for both sides to come to the negotiation table to solve this difficult situation.”

Hugging the man who detained him, the German officer who led the observer mission is clearly happy to be heading home.

Col. Axel Schneider, OSCE Military Observer, accept CCTV’s Kate Parkinson’s interview:

Kate Parkinson: How are you feeling to be going home?
Axel Schneider: Happy and grateful. To see a senior representative like Vladimir Lukin was extremely helpful. We will never forget that.
Kate Parkinson: Do you feel like all the stakeholders have played an important role in security your release?
Axel Schneider: This is my impression that enormous effort has been taken. And this is unforgettable for us. Never ever will I forget that.
Kate Parkinson: And where you treated well while you were in captivity?
Axel Schneider: According to the word given by the mayor we have been treated as good as possible. This is a miserable situation but we were under his protection. Thank you.

As the European observers leave Slavyansk, with the five members of the Ukrainian military who were accompanying the mission, the Ukrainian hostage crisis comes to an end.

They’ve spent 8 nights in captivity but on Saturday morning all of the European hostages and the Ukrainians that were travelling with them when they were seized were finally released.