OSCE observer: They told us we would serve as human shields

Jan Gazdík Jan Gazdík, Ivan Eckhardt
7. 5. 2014 11:10
“They threatened to kill us”, said Czech OSCE observer who was captured alongside six other Western military officers by pro-Russia gunmen near Eastern Ukraine's Slovyansk
Czech OSCE observer Josef Prerovsky
Czech OSCE observer Josef Prerovsky | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

Prague - Czech military officer Josef Prerovsky was one of the seven Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) military observers captured and held for eight days in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk by pro-Russia gunmen. “They threatened to shoot us as spies,” he said in an interview with Aktualne.cz.

“Of course, I have been trained to handle similar situations. But even the best training cannot prepare you for a similar war experience. And the one we had was really harsh. And I am not speaking only about the terrible hygienic conditions. What was much worse was the brutal psychological terror, when they pointed cocked automatic weapons at us, threatened to shoot us for being spies, or to make human shields of us in a fight against Ukrainian troops.”

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“One does not expect to be kidnapped in our field of work. For the twenty years we have been carrying out similar inspections in accordance with the Vienna Accords, nothing similar has happened. This was the first time.”

“If the separatists had decided to shoot us and dump us in a field, they could have easily done that and nobody would have stopped them.”

Slavyansk Mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov publicly said that the OSCE observers were his guests, not captives, but the real situation was different, said Prerovsky. “I know (Ponomaryov said that). But he frankly told us: 'You are war detainees. As members of foreign armies, you haven't contacted the Donetsk Republic to allow you to cross our territory.'”

“(The worst moment was) when they told us that the Ukrainian military was about to launch a second phase of the anti-terror operation, that nobody would leave the building alive, that the floors were bobby trapped with explosives, and that we would be used as human shields. Our German commander immediately asked to speak with their commanding officer... and we started to think that maybe we would die.”

The OSCE team was seized on April 25 when checking if Ukrainian troops were deploying near Slovyansk, said Prerovsky, adding that the pro-Russia gunmen were probably tipped off by local police.

“It is a scary fact that Ukraine is heading towards a civil war. People in the eastern parts of the country do not support the Kiev government,” said Prerovsky about the situation in the country.

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Zdroj: ČTK
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