US journalist released, others still held hostage in Slovyansk


Simon Ostrovsky, the US Vice News correspondent held hostage by pro-Russian militants in Slovyansk, has been released. He told Jean-Francois Belanger from CBS news reports on twitter that “he was beaten, blindfolded and hands tied at first, then treated well”.

The Russian RIA Novosti agency had earlier reported that the militants wanted to exchange Ostrovsky for the first self-proclaimed mayor of Donetsk, arrested on March 9. As reported Pavel Gubarev led the first major disturbances and attempts to storm the Donetsk regional administration. Gubarev’s ideological roots are with the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity Party. He as well as many other leading figures in the Donetsk federalist protests, are members of Natalya Vitrenko’s Progressive Socialist Party which has been noted for its anti-Semitic utterances.

The confusion of the pro-Russian militants at ground level is almost comical given the attempts by Moscow and its propaganda channels to present the Ukrainian authorities, EuroMaidan and especially the nationalist Right Sector party as fascist and anti-Semitic.  On Wednesday the self-proclaimed mayor Vitaly Ponomarev admitted that they were holding Ostrovsky, and said that he was suspected of collaborating with Right Sector “because” he has joint US and Israeli citizenship.

Unfortunately three other journalists are as yet still being held hostage.

Artem Deineha was abducted on April 13 in Slovyansk after filming in live stream the storming of the SBU office;

Serhiy Lefter was taken hostage on April 16. According to the Open Dialogue Foundation for whom he is working, he is accused of “spying” and being connected to the Right Sector movement.

Yevhen Halych is from Kolomiya and was on a trip to cover events in eastern Ukraine which was funded by Telekritika. He is with his brother, Hennady, and there has been no contact with them since April 21. Before contact was lost, Hennady is reported to have used a code word indicating danger during a call to his family. There have been attempts to use Yevhen’s bank card.

Halya Coynash

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