Ukraine ceasefire: Pro-Russian separatists free all OSCE monitors

Four OSCE monitors - three men and a woman – who were abducted by pro-Moscow separatists on May 29, were released a month later and were said to be in “good health and good spirits”.

Last Updated: Jun 29, 2014, 10:44 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Kiev: After a month of being held captive by the pro-Russian separatists, a team of four OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) monitors was released in the town of Donetsk even as a ceasefire between the government anfd the rebels seemed to be hanging by a thread.

Four OSCE monitors - three men and a woman – who were abducted by pro-Moscow separatists on May 29, were released a month later and were said to be in “good health and good spirits”.

A Russian news channel showed them entering a hotel in Donetsk and shaking hands with some OSCE members, reported the BBC.

Earlier, another team of four OSCE observers, who were abducted on May 26 were freed on Friday.

"We have fulfilled our obligations”,said Alexandre Borodai, the "prime minister" of the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk, which has declared independence from the Kiev government after a disputed referendum 

Hailing the release of monitors, the OSCE Chairperson Didier Burkhalter commended the tireless work of Special Monitoring Mission.

Burkhalter said that the OSCE through the SMM was ready to contribute to the implementation of the peace plan of the Ukrainian President on the ground.

He added that the release of all SMM monitors from detention would mark the beginning of an improving security situation in the eastern region of Ukraine.

All eight OSCE observers are now free, thanks to a ceasefire announced by Ukrainian PM Petro Poroshenko, who on June 20 announced a 15-point peace plan that involves decentralising power, holding earlier parliamentary and local elections and also a buffer zone on border with Russia.

The ceasefire, that seems to be hanging by a thread, came under threat when three Ukrainian military personnel were killed in clashes with the rebels in eastern city of Slaviansk.

The ceasefire was also endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had earlier called fro release of all hostages.

The release of the OSCE monitors was also a key demand by the EU, with which the Ukrainian PM signed a significant free trade pact.

The EU pact has been at the heart of Ukraine crisis as previous PM Viktor Yanukovych witnessed protests and was finally ousted for failing to have signed the deal, apparently under Russian influence.

The move saw pro-Russian protests erupting in eastern swathes of Ukraine and was later followed by Russian takeover of Crimea.