Pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine on Saturday released the seven OSCE military observers and five Ukrainian assistants who had been held for more than a week. The insurgent leader in Slovyansk was quoted as saying he ordered the release because of increasing insecurity in the city, where fighting broke out on Friday.
The observers, members of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer team, were seized on April 25 in Slovyansk, the epicenter of eastern Ukraine's unrest. The insurgents said the team possessed unspecified suspicious material and alleged they were spying for NATO.
A team member from Sweden was also seized but was released earlier. Unlike the other observers' countries, Sweden is not a member of NATO and the Swede reportedly suffers from a mild form of diabetes.
The insurgents' leader in Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying he ordered the release because of increasing insecurity in the city. But he later The Associated Press that "they are not being released — they are leaving us, as we promised them."