Moscow strongly condemns any attempts to intimidate and threaten the OSCE observers working in Ukraine, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second CIS Department Andrey Rudenko said speaking at a special session of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference. The text of his speech was posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

“I would like to thank the top officials and observers of the Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) who are working in Ukraine in difficult and dangerous conditions,” the diplomat said. “We strongly condemn any attempts to intimidate and threaten the observers, wherever they may come from, and restrictions on their freedom of movement.”

“At the same time, we paid attention to the fact that after the tragic car blast incident, when the number of SMM patrols was reduced, this decision affected mostly the area controlled by the government, as there are fewer hard surface roads there,” Rudenko noted. “There are some areas there that have long been closed for observers.”

The Russian diplomat also called on the SMM’s top officials and observers to cooperate with representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk more closely, not to manipulate reports and statistics and strictly follow the high standards of impartiality enshrined in their mandate.

On April 23, an OSCE SMM car drove over an anti-tank mine near the village of Prishib in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). As a result, an American paramedic was killed and another two observers, citizens of the Czech Republic and Germany, sustained wounds. After the incident the organization’s representatives have repeatedly urged the parties to the conflict to ensure the mission’s safety and not to hamper its work. According to the LPR’s people’s militia, Ukrainian subversive and reconnaissance groups were observed near Prishib more than once.

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