Berlin asks Russia to help secure release of OSCE team in Ukraine

BERLIN, April 28 Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:04am EDT

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BERLIN, April 28 (Reuters) - Germany urged Moscow on Monday to use its influence on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to secure the release of observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who are being held in the city of Slaviansk.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin condemned the detention of the team, which includes four Germans, calling it "against the law and without justification".

The release of one of the eight hostages on medical grounds was "a positive step" but the other seven must also be freed "immediately, unconditionally and unharmed", said Seibert.

"We ask the Russian government to act publicly and internally for their release, to distance itself clearly from such acts and to use its influence on pro-Russian perpetrators and forces in eastern Ukraine to secure their release," he said.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown and Erik Kirschbaum)

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