Detained European Military Observer Freed In Eastern Ukraine

April 27, 2014

One of the eight military observers who were arrested by pro-Russian separatists has been freed, reportedly for medical reasons. The observers were detained Friday after separatists accused them of being NATO spies.

As we reported Saturday, the observers were taken on Friday, the same day leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia over its handling of the crisis in Ukraine.

The captive’s release Sunday came after the observers were seen at a media event earlier today. One of the observers, who are from Germany and other European nations, said they had not been mistreated since they were taken captive at a checkpoint in Slovyansk. The team is part of a mission conducted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

According to Reuters, the released man, who is from Sweden, has a mild form of diabetes, a condition that prompted his release.

In other developments today, militants stormed a TV broadcast building in Donetsk, demanding that it restore Russian state media channels.

Donetsk is in eastern Ukraine, where former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky visited Sunday in an attempt to meet with pro-Russian forces.

NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson filed this report from Donetsk for our Newscast unit:

“A Ukrainian online video shows separatists at the occupied administration building here angrily refusing to meet with Khodorkovsky this morning.

“One shouted at the former oil tycoon: ‘You sold out your motherland. Just leave this territory. People here are patriots.’

“Khodorkovsky left a short while later. He also met with Donetsk government officials and top businessmen.

“A few days ago in Kiev, Khodorkovsky accused Putin of lashing out at Ukraine because he was offended by the popular uprising that ousted his Ukrainian ally, Viktor Yanukovich, from the presidency.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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