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JOURNALISM ≠ CRIME: Free Simon Ostrovsky!


NPR: Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist who has not been since early Tuesday. Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for Vice News, has been covering the crisis in Ukraine for weeks and was reporting about groups of masked gunmen seizing government buildings in one eastern Ukrainian city after another. Pro-Russia insurgents who have been occupying police stations and other public buildings in eastern Ukraine for more than a week are defying the accords that Russia and Ukraine signed last week, urging on all parties in Ukraine to lay down the arms and vacate the public offices. Members of the nationalist Right Sector movement have also been occupying two buildings in the capital Kiev for months, but authorities have said the priority is to get the gunmen in eastern Ukraine to vacate the buildings they hold. Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk, confirmed Wednesday that Ostrovsky was being held at the local branch of the Ukrainian security service that they seized more than a week ago. “He’s with us. He’s fine,” Khorosheva told The Associated Press. When asked why Ostrovsky was held captive, Khorosheva said he is “suspected of bad activities” which she refused to explain. She says the insurgents are holding Ostrovsky pending their own investigation. In a statement, Vice News said it “is in contact with the U.S. State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague, Simon Ostrovsky.” MORE

BUZZ FEED: The State Department is “aware” of the kidnapping of a Vicereporter in Ukraine and is working to provide consular assistance, a State Department official said on Tuesday. “We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen is being detained in Ukraine,” the official told BuzzFeed. “The Department of State takes its obligation to assist U.S. citizens abroad seriously and stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. We have no further information at this time.” MORE

REUTERS: In areas under the separatists’ control, there was growing evidence of arbitrary rule by self-appointed local officials, backed up by heavily-armed militias, and of violence being meted out against opponents. Kiev’s decision to resume its security operation in the east was prompted in part by the discovery of two bodies in a river near Slaviansk. One resembled Volodymyr Rybak, a member of the same Batkivshchyna party as Ukraine’s acting president. A video released on a local news site,, purported to show Rybak being confronted by an angry crowd outside the town hall in Horlivka, where he was a councilor. In the footage, Rybak can be seen being manhandled by several men, among them a masked man in camouflage, while other people hurl abuse. Rybak had tried to remove the flag of the separatist Donetsk Republic, the website said. “Over my dead body will you take down that flag,” one man in plain clothes yells at Rybak as the politician tries to gain entry to the town hall. After several minutes, Rybak appears able to walk away. The Interior Ministry said he was seen being bundled into a car by masked men in camouflage later that day. His body, and that of a second man, was found on Saturday in a river near Slaviansk. In Slaviansk itself, the militia is holding three journalists, including one U.S. citizen, Simon Ostrovsky, who works for the online news site Vice News. The separatists say they themselves are victims of violence and persecution by the Ukrainians authorities and illegal armed groups which, they say, support Kiev. MORE

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Via BuzzFeed