Rebels seize two Ukrainian journalists on spying charges

27th May 2014, Comments 0 comments

Two Ukrainian journalists accused of "spying" have been taken hostage by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern district of Luhansk, the OSCE's monitoring group said Tuesday.

The two journalists and their driver were abducted on 25 May at a checkpoint in Shchastia, 24 kilometres north of Luhansk, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) said in a statement.

"The journalists were taken to the occupied SBU building in Luhansk, where they are being held on the grounds of not having identity papers," the group said in a statement.

The separatists' press secretary also told the mission the two men were being held on suspicion of "espionage", SMM said, adding that the driver has since been released.

Last week the OSCE's top official for freedom of the press warned of the "rapidly deteriorating" media freedom in Ukraine since anti-government protests began in Kiev late last year.

The Vienna-based body documented over 300 cases of violence against members of the media, including murder, physical assaults and the destruction of equipment since November.

Earlier Tuesday, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it had lost contact with a four-member team of international monitors in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk.

Over 1,000 observers from the OSCE and other international bodies had been in Ukraine to monitor Sunday's presidential election, which was won by billionaire tycoon Petro Poroshenko.

© 2014 AFP

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