Simon Ostrovsky, an American reporter for VICE News, has been detained by pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk.
Roland Oliphant, The Telegraph’s Moscow correspondent, tweeted that he had confirmation from separatist leader and self-appointed ‘people’s mayor’ of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, that Ostrovsky was captured:
Ostrovsky (Twitter: @SimonOstrovsky) has been producing a series of first-person video dispatches on VICE’s YouTube channel under the headline “Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine.” His latest dispatch was published on Sunday:
He last reported Monday from a press conference given by Ponomarev, where tensions between journalists and the separatists who have taken over Slovyansk were clear via his tweet:
Brooklyn-based VICE News issued a statement about Ostrovsky’s capture Tuesday:
VICE News is aware of the situation and is in contact with the US State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague, Simon Ostrovsky.
According to The Interpreter’s translation of an announcement from Russian website Gazeta.RU, Ponomarev claimed in a press conference that Ostrovsky was fine, but disputed claims that he was captured:
The press conference was briefly interrupted when the journalists' parents rang Ponomarev, the leader of the Slavyansk militia, who gave assurances that their son was doing well. "Nobody abducted him, nobody is holding him hostage, he's with us now in at the SBU, preparing material and working," said Ponomarev.
KyivPost reported that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called for Ostrovsky’s release, and that OSCE officials denounced the treatment of the press in Ukraine:
"I remain deeply concerned about the ongoing negative pattern in relation to journalists' safety in Ukraine," OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovi? said. "I call on all those responsible to stop harassing and attacking journalists and let them do their job. Simon Ostrovsky should be released immediately."