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Journalists missing, many detained by pro-Russian separatist groups in Ukraine

In this photo taken on 13 April 2014, U.S. reporter Simon Ostrovsky stands with a Pro-Russian gunman at a seized police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk.
In this photo taken on 13 April 2014, U.S. reporter Simon Ostrovsky stands with a Pro-Russian gunman at a seized police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Any journalists being detained in Ukraine must be released immediately, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have stated, following reports that a number of journalists are missing or are being held hostage in the east of the country.

IFJ/EFJ's Ukrainian affiliates, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) have stated that in recent weeks the situation, particularly in eastern Ukraine, has become “increasingly difficult and dangerous for media,” with many journalists being held by pro-Russian separatist groups.

Among those detained are US journalist Simon Ostrovsky, of Vice News, who is being held by pro-Russian separatists in the city of Sloviansk, while Ukrainian photojournalist Yevegeny Gapich, who was on assignment for the Ukrainian newspaper Reporter, has not been heard from since he spoke to his family on Tuesday morning. Sergei Lefter, a Ukrainian correspondent for the Warsaw-based Open Dialogue Foundation has also been missing since last week.

“We are gravely concerned about the continuing reports that journalists are being intimidated, attacked and kidnapped in the eastern region of Ukraine and we demand that any group that is holding a journalist releases them with immediate effect,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

“These attacks against local and international journalists are clearly designed to intimidate and stroke feat into the media community and they can no longer be tolerated. We appeal to all sides involved in the Ukraine crisis to ensure that the rights and freedom of journalists and media staff are upheld.”

The IFJ/EFJ have repeated their call for journalists covering events in Ukraine to remain vigilant at all times and to take all necessary measures and precautions , while advising them to follow the Federation's Media Safety Guidelines.

IFJ/EFJ'S UKRAINIAN UNIONS HAVE DETAILED THE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS WHO ARE BEING HELD:

- On April 16, Serhiy Lefter, a journalist for the Polish NGO “Open dialogue,” disappeared in Slovyansk, near Donetsk

- On April 20, the journalist and civic activist, Irma Krat, was kidnapped by separatists

- On April 21, two foreign journalists from Italy, Pol Gogo and Cosimo Attanasio, and a Belarusian journalist, Dmytro Galko, who works for the New Time newspaper were detained by separatists in Slovyansk, but were later released

- April 22: Ukrainian photojournalist, Yevgeny Gapich, has not been heard from since he spoke to his family on Tuesday morning from the eastern city of Horlivka. Gapich, who was on assignment for the Ukrainian newspaper Reporter, is said to have used a code word that he and his wife used to signal danger, but he has stopped responding to phone calls.

- On April 22, US journalist Simon Ostrovsky, from the American publication, Vice magazine, was detained by separatists in Slovyansk. With him was British cameraman Frederick Paxton.

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