Ukraine separatists say free Swedish observer on medical grounds

SLAVIANSK, Ukraine Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:39pm EDT

Pro-Russian protesters take part in a rally near the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Pro-Russian protesters take part in a rally near the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - One of the eight European observers being detained by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine city of Slaviansk on Sunday evening was escorted to an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) vehicle and driven away.

A Reuters reporter outside the city administration building in Slaviansk said the man came out, escorted by three unarmed men, got into a white OSCE jeep and drove off. The group declined to answer reporters' questions.

Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the separatist mayor of Slaviansk, said the observer who left is a Swedish national. "He has a mild form of diabetes and so we decided to let him go," she told reporters.

Asked if he was the only one of the observers who was to be released on Sunday, she replied: "Yes."

(Corrects spelling of separatist spokeswoman's name)

(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)