Observers held in Ukraine speak under armed guard

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John Christensen, right, a senior Sgt. in the Danish army and his colleague, both members of a group of foreign military observers are escorted by a pro-Russian militant to attend a press conference in the city hall of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. As Western governments vowed to impose more sanctions against Russia and its supporters in eastern Ukraine, a group of foreign military observers remained in captivity Saturday accused of being NATO spies by a pro-Russian insurgency. The German-led, eight-member team was traveling under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe when they were detained Friday. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

John Christensen, right, a senior Sgt. in the Danish army and his colleague, both members of a group of foreign military observers are escorted by a pro-Russian militant to attend a press conference in the city hall of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. As Western governments vowed to impose more sanctions against Russia and its supporters in eastern Ukraine, a group of foreign military observers remained in captivity Saturday accused of being NATO spies by a pro-Russian insurgency. The German-led, eight-member team was traveling under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe when they were detained Friday. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

A member of a group of foreign military observers, center, who had being held by Ponomarev’s group and released, leaves the city hall with representatives of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. At least one of the eight European military observers held prisoner by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine has been freed. Earlier in the day, the eight observers had been shown in public for the first time since they were detained on Friday and accused of spying for NATO. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A soldier of the Ukrainian army guards their checkpoint near village of Malinovka, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) from Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Soldiers of Ukrainian army seen atop an APC at their checkpoint near village of Malinovka, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) from Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Masked pro Russian armed men stand at the city hall during negotiations about the release of foreign military observers being held by Ponomarev’s group in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014. At least one of the eight European military observers held prisoner by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine has been freed. Earlier in the day, the eight observers had been shown in public for the first time since they were detained on Friday and accused of spying for NATO. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

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SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Eight European military observers held prisoner by pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine were marched out under armed guard on Sunday 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.

On Sunday, they captured three Ukrainian security service officers, who were shown to Russian journalists bloodied and blindfolded with packing tape.

Also on Sunday, 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.

Col. Axel Schneider from Germany, who spoke for the group of military observers detained on Friday, stressed that they were on a diplomatic mission under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and weren’t spying for NATO, as the insurgents claim.

Schneider said additional proof of this was the participation of the officer from Sweden, which is not a member of NATO.

The observers, who appeared nervous, were in the custody of armed men wearing camouflage fatigues and black balaclavas, who escorted them into the Slovyansk city hall for the news conference and led them away afterward. Schneider, however, said they were being treated as well as possible under the circumstances.

“The mayor of this city granted us his protection and he regarded us as his guests,” Schneider told journalists. “I can tell you that the word of the mayor is a word of honor. We have not been touched.”

Schneider, who was speaking before the Swede was freed, said he had no information about when they would be released and that this was a matter for diplomats of their countries. The group also includes officers from Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The Swedish officer, Maj. Thomas Johansson, got into a car with OSCE representatives outside city hall and drove off with them. He was freed “on humanitarian grounds as he has a mild form of diabetes,” said Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the city’s mayor.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the

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