Second group of OSCE monitors freed in eastern Ukraine
KYIV, 28 June 2014 -- The four members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s Luhansk-based monitoring team that went missing on May 29 were released this evening after exactly one month in captivity.
The Special Monitoring Mission’s head office in Kyiv was informed of their release earlier today. Upon arrival in Donetsk from their location of captivity in Luhansk Oblast, the freed monitors were observed to be in good condition.
The team includes nationals from Germany, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation and Spain.
The Chief Monitor, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, welcomed the release: “It is with great relief and happiness that we greet news of the release of our colleagues after a month in captivity. Their families, friends and colleagues are waiting for them. We appreciate the efforts undertaken by all the parties towards their release."
The OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said: “The entire OSCE family welcomes the safe and long-awaited release of our monitors. They volunteered to help Ukraine at a critical moment in its history. We are proud of their contribution, and we admire their courage in the face of very difficult circumstances. The Special Monitoring Mission has played an important role throughout the current crisis. I consider the continued work of the Mission essential in helping to restore peace and stability throughout Ukraine.”
The development comes about 36 hours after the release late Thursday of four monitors belonging to the Donetsk-based team. Late Friday, the freed Donetsk-based team members arrived safely in Vienna aboard an aircraft chartered by Switzerland and then flew to their home countries.
The OSCE monitors remain and continue working in Donetsk and Luhansk. It is expected that the de-escalation of the situation would give OSCE SMM an opportunity to continue conducting full scale monitoring where security conditions permit.
The Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine currently consists of 300 civilian unarmed monitors from more than 40 OSCE participating States and local staff from Ukraine. The Mission’s Head Office is in Kyiv and there are monitors working in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernivtsi and Luhansk regions.