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Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Is 'Bargaining Chip' in Ukraine

Published: April 24, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • U.S. journalist Simon Ostrovskys current whereabouts are unknown.
    Photo: Vice News

As friends and family waited impatiently to hear from Simon Ostrovsky, the journalist kidnapped by pro-Russian insurgents Tuesday, an image of a scantily dressed woman crawling across a bed appeared on his Facebook page Wednesday, likely the work of hackers.

Also Wednesday, the self-proclaimed mayor of the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk said he would not free Ostrovsky.

"We need prisoners," Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the "people's mayor" of Slovyansk, told Gazeta.ru on Wednesday. "We need bargaining chips. Many of our comrades are behind bars. They [the Ukrainian security forces] take them to Kiev and torture them. Now we are doing the same. Taking prisoners, that is."

Stella Khoroshego, a spokeswoman for the self-appointed authorities of Slovyansk, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Ostrovsky was "fine" and that he had been detained on suspicion of "bad activities," without elaborating on their nature.

Ponomaryov told Interfax that Ostrovsky was an informant for Ukraine's Right Sector far-right nationalist party, the news agency reported.

Ostrovsky, a journalist at Vice News and former St. Petersburg Times reporter, had been covering the crisis in Ukraine for the past weeks. He had presented a series of bold video dispatches called "Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine," in which he regularly challenged armed men with blunt questions and sharp observations.

Ostrovsky's whereabouts remain unknown. Pro-Russian insurgents denied that Ostrovsky was being held at the local state security building.

The self-appointed leaders of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk contradicted Ponomaryov and Khoroshego, denying the involvement of pro-Russian militants in the kidnapping of Ostrovsky and other journalists.

"We can neither confirm nor exclude the possibility that any foreign journalists have been kidnapped," a spokesman for Yekaterina Gubareva, the self-styled foreign minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, told The St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday. "All we can say is that we [the Donetsk People's Republic] have not done this. This could be a provocation."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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