Vice News journalist Simon Ostrovsky who was detained by armed gunmen in Ukraine has been released. Yesterday, Vice has confirmed his release and declined to comment further. This morning, Ostrovsky described what happened:
On Thursday, armed gunmen who held me prisoner for four nights and three days released me into the streets of Sloviansk, in eastern Ukraine. My release was as unexplained as my capture.
On Monday night I was pulled out of a car at a checkpoint, then blindfolded, beaten, and tied up with tape. After spending hours alone on the floor of a damp cell with my hands tied behind my back and a hat pulled over my eyes, I was led into a room where I was accused of working for the CIA, FBI, and Right Sector, the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist group.
When I refused to give the password to my laptop, I was smacked in the arm with a truncheon. When I was asleep on the floor, masked men came to wake me up and tell me how no one would miss me if I died, and then kicked me in the ribs as they left.
But as it turns out, I had it pretty easy, because I was let go…
Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for the New-York-based Vice News, has been freed by
self-defense forcespro-Russia insurgents in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, after spending several days in detention… Ostrovsky was sent to Slavyansk to cover the pro-federalization protest therea shooting at a checkpoint and the region’s ongoing crisis, as pro-Russia separatists — linked to Russian military forces and “sabotage-reconnaissance” — seize government buildings and police stations. Prior to his detention, he had interviewed Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the so-called ‘people’s mayor’ of Slavyansk, appointed by protesters [Explain tone]. Ostrovsky questioned allegations put forward by Ponomaryov which laid the blame for a deadly attack at a checkpoint on the ultra-nationalist Right Sector group [Doublespeak; cite your sources]… Ponomaryov explained that protesters were not going to do the journalist any harm. [But then what happened?]
See me after class.
In this morning’s post, Ostrovsky described dozens of other detainees being shuffled through the damp detention cellar, including journalists how have been there for up to two weeks.
After his release, Ostrovsky found out that the “people’s mayor” Ponomarev was trying to use him as a “bargaining chip” with the interim authorities in Kiev. While this was happening, Ponomarev told the press, “Nobody abducted him, nobody is holding him hostage” which was echoed by pro-Russia insurgent spokeswoman Khorosheva who said that the insurgents were not trying to “exchange him for someone” — both statements appear to be explicit lies. BuzzFeed’s Max Seddon has noted that nine reporters have been detained by pro-Russia militants this week, as of two days ago.