Total Pageviews

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

American Reporter Held by Ukraine Separatists

A Vice News video report filed by Simon Ostrovsky in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

Foreign correspondents in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, including my colleague Andrew Roth and Roland Oliphant of The Telegraph, report that one of their number, the Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been detained by pro-Russia separatists who seized power in recent days.

Vice News said in a statement that the Brooklyn-based news organization “is aware of the situation and is in contact with the United States State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague.”

Mr. Ostrovsky and his colleagues have produced a series of vivid dispatches for the Vice News YouTube channel in recent weeks on the turmoil in Ukraine, including a report from Slovyansk posted online Sunday about the government’s hapless attempt to retake the town late last week.

Tensions in Slovyansk spiked over the weekend, when a gun battle late Saturday left at least three men dead in murky circumstances. The Kyiv Post reported on Tuesday that a statement from Ukraine’s acting president said that the military would relaunch its operation to quell the separatist movement after the dead bodies of two men, including a local politician, had been discovered near Slovyansk, showing signs of having been “brutally tortured.”

Before his disappearance, Mr. Ostrovsky had reported on Monday via Twitter that Vyachislav Ponomaryov, a pro-Russian activist and the town’s de facto mayor, had berated journalists for “provocative” questions about the town’s former mayor, and a woman pressed reporters to make donations towards the funeral expenses of the separatists killed in the shoot-out.

One of Mr. Ostrovsky’s last tweets on Monday included a photograph of Irma Krat, a journalist who took part in the pro-European sit-in in Kiev who was taken prisoner by the Slovyansk separatists over the weekend.

Mr. Ostrovsky, a former BBC and Al Jazeera correspondent who wrote for The Moscow News a decade ago, has been an eloquent chronicler of the confusing and chaotic scenes in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in more than two dozen video reports from the region.