Pro-Russia insurgents on Sunday freed one of the eight European military observers being held prisoner in eastern Ukraine. Earlier in the day, all eight appeared in public for the first time and, under armed guard, gave assurances they weren’t being mistreated.
An AP photographer saw Maj. Thomas Johansson of Sweden get into a car with representatives of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. They then drove away from the city administration building in Slovyansk, which has become the center of the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
It wasn’t clear why only Johansson was released, but the pro-Russian insurgents had accused the group of being NATO spies and Sweden isn’t a member of the trans-Atlantic alliance.
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.
Also on Sunday, hundreds of pro-Russia activists stormed the broadcasting center in Donetsk, 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 channels, which serve as propaganda tools for the Kremlin.