Czech diplomacy denies reports of Czech mercenaries in Ukraine

The Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry has said it cannot give credence to claims by Ukraine's Donetsk governor that any Czech mercenaries were captured. Photo: Flickr.
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BIS says it has no evidence to support claims by Donetsk governor

Prague/Kiev, June 7 (ČTK) — Czech diplomacy has no information on alleged Czech mercenaries taken hostage by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohová said in reaction to a Ukrainian separatist leader quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine press agency today.

Pro-Russian separatist leader Myroslav Rudenko told the agency his units captured many foreign mercenaries, including a number of Polish and Czech citizens.

"This is the first time I have heard something like this. I can neither confirm it nor comment on it," Grohová told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

The Czech embassy in Kiev also said it had no information on captured Czech soldiers.

"We will not comment on the statements by Mr Rudenko," the embassy's spokeswoman Zdeňka Caisová said.

Czech Defense Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said no Czechs are taking part in an observer mission in Ukraine.

The Czech counter-intelligence BIS has no information on possible Czech mercenaries in Ukraine.

"We have no information about Czechs leaving the country with an apparent intention to join the fighting in Ukraine," BIS spokesman Jan Šubrt said.

According to Interfax, Donetsk Governor Serhiy Taruta said Friday the rebels had taken more than 200 people captive, including foreigners.

Ukrainian authorities repeatedly dismissed the separatists' claim that the government forces are using foreign mercenaries to suppress the rebellion.

Andor Šándor, a former Czech military intelligence chief, said the presence of Czech mercenaries in Ukraine would not surprise him, but he had no such information.

"There are many people who operated in special forces and then moved to the reserves or joined security agencies. They might go to Ukraine as volunteers; this is a decision anybody can make. There are 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria, and some certainly may be in Ukraine, too," Šándor told ČTK.

In late April, pro-Russian rebels caught seven OSCE observers, including a Czech soldier. The observers were released following negotiations after more than a week.

The OSCE has been missing two of its teams since late May, Ukrainian media reported. One team disappeared in the Donetsk Region and the other one in the Lugansk Region.

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