DONETSK, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – Vyacheslav Ponomarev, people’s mayor of Ukraine’s eastern city of Slaviansk in Donetsk region, said Thursday that self-defense forces were behind the recent detention of four OSCE monitors.
“We warned the OSCE mission that they were unwanted on the Donetsk land. They didn’t listen to us, that’s why we decided to detain them. We are checking them and will free them after the check,” he said.
The self-defense forces found that the OSCE monitoring team had “some equipment” with them, which invited the suspicion of the activists.
The protesters are currently holding the international monitors in the city of Makiivka, in Donetsk region.
“They are alright. I’ve talked to those people. The OSCE mission in Kiev also keeps in touch with them,” Ponomarev added.
The OSCE said Tuesday it had lost contact with one of its monitoring teams in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The contact was lost on Monday evening, when the team of four international members of the Special Monitoring Mission was on a routine patrol east of Donetsk.
Wednesday night, United Nations political chief Jeffrey Feltman said that eleven more OSCE election monitors had been detained in Donetsk Region. She reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call on Kiev authorities to steer the country away from instability.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow would assist efforts to release the detained group of OSCE monitors in Ukraine, adding that a Russian citizen was among them.
Later in the day, the OSCE announced that it had reestablished contact with the group of eleven monitors as they returned to Donetsk.
In April anti-Kiev activists in Slaviansk captured a team of OSCE military observers. They were freed a week later with the assistance of Russian presidential representative Vladmir Lukin.