Kiev (AsiaNews) - The seven international observers taken hostage last week in eastern Ukraine were released this morning. Along with them 5 other Ukrainian officials, who work for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were also released. The pro-Russian separatists in the city of Sloviansk responsible for the kidnapping, said that the release took place "without conditions". Those released are all in good health.
In the meantime, however,
violence continues to rage in the area: Kiev has relaunched a military
intervention against the separatists, and clashes of varying intensity are
reported. Russia, accused by the West of being behind the
unrest, says it "no longer has any influence" over the separatists. Moscow
also accused Kiev and the West of responsibility for the violence in the
south-western city of Odessa, which left at least 40 people dead.
Vladimir Lukin, the Kremlin's envoy to negotiate the release of the OECD officials, said he hoped the "voluntary act" by the separatists would be reciprocated by Kiev, adding: "I would very much like military actions to end". President Vladimir Putin's spokesman in Moscow, Dmitry Peskov, said: "From now on Russia essentially has lost its influence over these people because it will be impossible to convince them to lay down arms when there's a direct threat to their lives".