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Military observers held in Ukraine released
Those held included three other Germans and one soldier each from Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic.
Although Russia denies allegations that it is fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where insurgents have seized government buildings in about a dozen cities and towns, it sent Vladimir Lukin, Russia's former human rights ombudsman, to negotiate for the release of the observers as a representative of Putin. The initiative to send him came from Counil of Europe head Thorbjorn Jagland, according to his spokesman Daniel Hoeltgen.
Lukin was quoted by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti as saying the release was "a voluntary humanitarian act."
Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.