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Ukraine rebel city says holding international observers

(Reuters) - Armed pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk were holding a group of international observers on Friday, saying they had found a Ukrainian spy travelling with them.

"They are with us in Slaviansk," the de facto mayor of the city, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told Reuters in front of the seized security service building where, according to the Ukrainian government, the observers were being held.

"What the situation was I do not know," he said. "It was reported to me that among them (the observers) was an employee of Kiev's secret military staff."

"People who come here as observers bringing with them a real spy: it's not appropriate." Later, a man in a mask and camouflage fatigues said there would be no more comments on Friday evening.

The detention of the observers, who are working for the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will heighten Western concerns about lawlessness and arbitrary rule in separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine.

It may also increase Western leaders' pressure on Moscow, which they accuses of backing the militias. The Kremlin denies interfering in eastern Ukraine.

Sanctions Aren't Enough to Stop Putin

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on his Twitter account: "Extremely concerned with OSCE inspectors being abducted in a Eastern Ukraine. Including one Swede. They must be released immediately."

Slaviansk is the biggest flashpoint in an armed uprising in eastern Ukraine that has widened into the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.


Earlier, the German foreign ministry in Berlin said it had been unable to contact a German-led group of international military observers on a mission in the city.

The group comprised three German soldiers, a German translator, and military observers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden and Denmark, a spokesman for the ministry in Berlin said.

The interior ministry in Kiev said the group that had been detained included 7 OSCE representatives and five members of the Ukrainian armed forces who were accompanying them.

"At the moment, talks are going on with representatives of pro-Russian forces. They have refused to free the hostages, saying they want to speak to "competent organs" of the Russian Federation," the Ukrainian interior ministry spokesman said.

Slaviansk, a city of around 130,000, has been for two weeks under the control of separatists who, like similar groups elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, oppose the central government in Kiev after the overthrow of a Kremlin-backed president.

Government forces said on Friday that they were gradually tightening a blockade on the city in an "anti-terrorist operation" that was relaunched earlier this week.

The separatists there have also been holding several journalists, although they released one of them, a U.S. citizen, on Thursday.

Russia says the pro-Russian militias are a spontaneous protest against a government in Kiev which it says is illegitimate, has far-right links, and has committed a crime by using the army to put down the revolt.

Several of the separatists manning checkpoints on the edge of the city have been killed in raids by defense and interior ministry forces from the Western-backed government in Kiev.

(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; writing By Richard Balmforth; editing by Christian Lowe and Philippa Fletcher)

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Xpd2 April 26 2014 at 3:25 AM

Ethnic Russians who are citizens of Ukraine are the business of Ukraine, not Russia. Putin should but out.

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1 reply
yako3185 Xpd2 April 26 2014 at 8:17 AM

You mean allow the new puppet regime to declare or decertify Russian as a language in Ukraine?
Next, the hordes of US/NATO/EU covertly paid and sponsored began moving to the East to get rid of Russian descendants. Only thing that stopped them were the Russian troops across the border.
Ukrainians like to lick the western boot; they still want others to fight their battles. They can solve the problem by themselves but they lack the will. The new puppets are eagerly waiting for the dollars to start coming in; they are ready to get their juicy cut. If allowed, we will see them fattening their bank accounts in London, Zurick, etc. Meantime, as usual, the Ukrainian farmers and the working man will get screw, like they have been for the last 100 years or so.

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vladswim April 26 2014 at 12:57 AM

Vot Pizdecz Blyat

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Meh... April 26 2014 at 10:17 AM

Yep..... I wish we could just build a big wall around the country and keep to ourselves. No more bailing everyone else out, no more allies, no more any of it. Just America vs America. Unfortunately the human species believes that greater powers have a responsibility to defend the weak. You know, the only thing I can see that Humans as a species has ever done, historically, is kill each other and write it down. I guess they assume by writing it down, that people in the future will not make the same mistakes as they have in the past. I have yet to see this play out as planned though.

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Franco April 26 2014 at 1:22 AM

Why did the rebels take internationl hostiges?

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2 replies
vladswim Franco April 26 2014 at 1:49 AM

Because they had spies with them

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stpaulcampbell Franco April 26 2014 at 2:45 AM

Many of the "rebels" who are men in black ski masks are Russian military operatives sent into the region to destabilize it. They speak a Russian dialect of Russian, not a Ukranian dialect of Russian as those who are native to the area. Just like we can tell a Boston-born American citizen the moment he opens his mouth, so it is with these "rebels". They do not want the truth known in the International community, so they take them hostage and threaten them, thus suppressing the truth, so Putin can continue denying the involvement of Russian forces. Sound familiar?

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dorc792 April 26 2014 at 12:29 AM

obamas got his hands full now...syria...n korea...afgan...iran...russia..lines in the sand hav approached the missle bases...hit the buttons....ooorrraaahhh!!!

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Shawn G April 26 2014 at 1:39 AM

I dont think anyone wants a real war but man between north K and poo poo there really pushing are buttons .

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Iselin007 April 26 2014 at 2:24 AM

Keep messing around people.

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ac14426 April 26 2014 at 4:21 AM

This SOB = Este hijo dePUTIN, should be happy, first Crimea, a reminder of what they did in the 40th with all the Satellite Countries they brought in the tanks and had their boots over them for years, exploit, unable to travel, unable to speak, forced to their Propaganda, just like they did in Cuba as well. And he has the Cojones to say those guys are not their Russian trained soldiers, you can tell easily who are the regulars dummies and who act and are the soldiers, just by the way they hold their armaments & behavier, and everyone know that no Joe Blow in Ukraine could have purchased such a weapon because the cost is beyond their means.
Mr Putin the Best that ever happened was getting rid of the oppressive as well as slaving Soviet System, the worse was to be replaced by the same Bastards that were in it, bunch of Soviet Mafia, the Cancer of the World. We do not forget what those Satellite Countries looked like after the Collapse of the Cancerous USSR.

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1 reply
ac14426 ac14426 April 26 2014 at 4:36 AM

This is WHY, those people that were under the BOOTS of the USSR do not forget one minute of it and want nothing to do with your god damn system that was impose on them for so many years, many who died trying to escape to the West looking for freedom and a better life. The West may not be Utopia, but it certainly beat any other system known in this Planet. Your system of Oppression creating a new low life Elite and claiming to bring equality to all, oh yes the rest of the people are all equally exploited by your lousy system, just look at Cuba, North Korea, and what Mr Maduro is doing to his people trying to force another Communist Regime, even though it has been proven Catastrophic in every place that was implemented.

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ronbobel7 April 25 2014 at 11:15 PM

putin always tells the truth; even when he lies.

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Steve Hering April 25 2014 at 10:47 PM

Is the NWO having a problem?

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