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Cases of Journalists’ Abduction Have Increased in the Eastern Ukraine, Some Are Still Missing

(Photo by BBC-Ukraine)

Over the past few weeks, cases of journalists’ abduction,their illegal holding in captivity as political prisoners, beating up andtorture, become more frequent.

Specifically, during the last weeks of April 2014,separatists have taken hostage at least ten journalists conducting theirprofessional activity in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Whereabouts of three mediarepresentatives are still unknown.

Most of the journalists were captured by the pro-Russianseparatists while making the coverage in the Donetsk region, have been held forsome time and then released.

For example, on 21 April, in Slovyansk of Donetskregion, three foreign journalists – Italian correspondents Paul Gogo and Kossimo Attanasio,and Dmitry Galka, a Belarusian correspondent from thenewspaper “NewTime”, were captured. Their documents, money and photo equipment weretaken away, but later they were released.

Another journalist, Eugene Hapych, disappeared on 22 April in Gorlivka, Donetsk region,and in a few days – in the evening of 24 April – he was released. According tothe testimony of his family, he was beaten up; all his belongings, clothes andshoes were taken away. They managed to get free from captivity only afterinformation about their abduction was reported online.

On 22 April 2014, a journalist of the newspaper”Komsomolskaya Pravda” Eugeniya Suprycheva was captured during the press conference of the so-called People’sMayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev in Slovyansk. After two days of captivity she was setfree.

Also on 22 April, an American journalist Simon Ostrovsky from “Vice News” was also abductedallegedly on the basis of accusations of his espionage for the Right Sector.According to the Internet portal Vice News, the journalist is now freed from captivity.

According to the journalist, he was deliberately takenat the checkpoint at the entrance to the City of Slovyansk for photography.This abduction might be related to his work as he was investigating theinvolvement of Russian citizens in the events in Donetsk region and two daysbefore the arrest interviewed the separatists.

Moreover, Slovyansk militants planned to changecaptured Ostrovsky journalist for their arrested leader Pavel Gubarev, as on 24April announced the self-proclaimed Slovyansk mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev. He also threatened that, once heand his colleagues were attacked, none of their hostages wouldn’t remain alive.

Up to this time, whereabouts of three mediarepresentatives, who had been covering the events in the Eastern Ukraine, remainunknown.

Notably, Artem Deynega was captured at night of 13 April 2014, when someone broke intohis apartment. It is known that he had broadcasted the storming of the local SecurityService Office as a journalist on a voluntary basis. Reportedly, he is being currentlykept as a hostage.

Some unidentified men captured a journalist of”Open Dialogue” Foundation Sergiy Lefter, on 16 April, in Slovyansk. In this case, thejournalist was allegedly accused of involvement in the Right Sector andespionage for it.

Another journalist from Lviv, Yuriy Lelyavsky, who was a freelance correspondent of ZIK channel filmingthe events in Slovyansk, was captured on 25 April 2014.

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In view of the above, the Media Law Institute urges the Ukrainian law enforcement authoritiesto take immediately all necessary steps to detect location of the missing mediarepresentatives to ensure safe conditions for the life and health ofjournalists, cameramen and other media professionals, as well as to conduct aproper investigation of crimes committed and hold the guilty ones liable.

We also encourage the media outlets to take all possiblemeasures to improve the physical security of its employees who are on the scene,in particular by providing them with body guards.

Ми надаємо безоплатні консультації із юридичних питань у сфері інформаційного та медійного права. Будемо раді поділитися з вами своїм досвідом.

Листи з інших питань не розглядаються.

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