MOSCOW, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE) held by pro-Russian activists have been released in Ukraine, local media said Saturday.
"All the 12 people who are on my list have been freed," the state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia's presidential special envoy to Ukraine, Vladimir Lukin, as saying.
Earlier on the day, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the "people's mayor" of Ukraine's eastern city of Slaviansk, said he intended to release the inspectors detained on April 25 by militia men.
Instead of linking the release to unsafe situation in that governmental forces besieged city, Ponomaryov said "they are my guests, I do not want them to be hurt," Interfax news agency reported.
Ukraine launched a major attack against pro-Russian forces around Slaviansk in the early hours of Friday, a move Russia said would destroy all hopes of fulfilling the Geneva agreements reached on April 17.
A German-led Vienna Document inspection team and their Ukrainian escorts were detained in Ukraine's eastern town of Sloviansk.
The observers, all Europeans, were part of a 12-member military verification team deployed last month by the Vienna-based OSCE in eastern Ukraine to monitor the political and security situation in the country following pro-Russia protests in its eastern region.
The team included seven military officers -- three from Germany and one each from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and Sweden -- and a German interpreter, along with five members of the Ukrainian military as escorts.
Clashes at Ukraine's Odessa kill at least 43
KIEV, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters in Ukraine's Black Sea city of Odessa have killed at least 43 people and injured 174 others, the local government said Friday.
Among the dead, mostly pro-Russia protesters, 30 were choked to death when radicals set fire on a trade union building, while eight others died from jumping out of windows of the burning building. Full story
Merkel calls on Putin to help secure release of OSCE observers
BERLIN, May 1 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert his influence to help achieve the release of detained military observers in Ukraine.
According to a statement by the German government, the two leaders held a telephone conversation and discussed issues related to the current situation in Ukraine. Full story