Vice Journalist Detained by Pro-Russia Insurgents in Ukraine, Accused of “Spying” for Extremists

April 23, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Yesterday, Vice journalist Simon Ostrovsky was detained in Sloviansk. For weeks, he has been reporting on masked gunmen seizing police stations and government buildings all over the eastern Ukraine.

“Nobody abducted him, nobody is holding him hostage, he’s with us now in at the SBU, preparing material and working,” the “People’s Mayor” of  Sloviansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev had said. Today, the AP has confirmed that Ostrovsky is being held in custody after all, and not just “working” from the Security Service of Ukraine facilities.

Pro-Russia forces admitted Wednesday they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of spying for Ukrainian ultra-nationalists.

“He’s with us. He’s fine,” Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the pro-Russian insurgents told the AP. “(We) need to be careful because this is not the first time we’re dealing with spies.” The authorities are pretending that they have a basis to believe that the Vice journalist is spying for the Ukrainian far-right extremist organization Right Sector. (The Right Sector’s leader Oleksandr “Sahko Bily” Muzychko “accidentally shot himself when offering resistance to police officers that were detaining him” yesterday, according to the Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine.) State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed deep concern:

We condemn any such actions, and all recent hostage-takings in eastern Ukraine, which directly violate commitments made in the Geneva joint statement. We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile in Sloviansk, a body resembling Horlivka Town Council Volodymyr Rybak, who was abducted by masked gunmen a few days ago, was found in a river.

Ostrovsky’s latest dispatch from Kramatorsk was posted on Sunday. On Monday, his Twitter account went silent.