Sun., 5:21 pm: Observers held in Ukraine speak under armed guard
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine – Eight European military observers held prisoner by pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine were marched out under armed guard today to give public assurances that they weren’t being mistreated.
Germany’s foreign minister condemned the appearance as “revolting” and a violation of the men’s dignity. Four members of the team are German.
One of the observers, a Swedish officer, was released later in the day for medical reasons.
The insurgents in Slovyansk have taken a number of people hostage, including journalists and pro-Ukraine activists, as they strengthen their control in the east of the country in defiance of the interim government in Kiev and its Western supporters.
Today, they captured three Ukrainian security service officers, who were shown to Russian journalists bloodied and blindfolded with packing tape.
Also today, a crowd of several hundred pro-Russia activists stormed the television broadcasting center in Donetsk, the regional capital of eastern Ukraine, to demand that Russian state channels be put back on the air. The Kiev government last month blocked the broadcasts of the Russian channels, which serve as propaganda tools for the Kremlin.
The crowd included several dozen men wearing camouflage fatigues and face masks, the standard uniform of the pro-Russia forces that have seized government buildings in at least 10 cities in eastern Ukraine.