Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky, who was detained and held by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, has been responsible for a compelling video narrative series that has provided invaluable insight into the on-the-ground situation in the Ukrainian crisis.
His dispatches are perhaps the main reason the pro-Russian forces in the town of Slavyansk have detained him. The spokespeople for the pro-Russian militia holding him captive say he’s not a hostage, but they refuse to let him leave the spot at which they’re holding him. They have made it clear they are not happy with his reporting on the crisis.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the separatist, self-declared “People’s mayor” of the town, said he is being held for reporting false information. Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the pro-Russia insurgents in the town, told The Associated Press he is suspected of spying for the Right Sector, an ultranationalist pro-Ukraine group.
Ostrovsky’s recent reporting in eastern Ukraine has only been the latest example of his feather-ruffling dispatches, which are part of a 28-part video series, “Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine.” He garnered mainstream attention from his first video, when he witnessed a standoff between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers outside of a military base in Crimea:
One of his most trafficked reports came with his third dispatch, when he openly challenged members of the so-called “Crimean defence force” who told him and Vice’s cameraman they could not shoot at the location. Throughout the video, Ostrovsky encountered people openly hostile to journalists, from the pro-Russian forces to ordinary civilians.
“Why can’t we film? Just because you don’t want us to?” Ostrovsky asked the soldier outside of a naval base in Crimea.
“Show me a document,” he continued. “Your only document is your gun.”
But perhaps his most harrowing dispatch comes when he was confronted by members of the Berkut, the riot police force disbanded by authorities in Kiev, at a Russian checkpoint. During one interaction, one member says he’ll “shoot to kill,” before attacking Ostrovsky and his cameraman. Later in the video, Ostrovsky said the forces searched both him and his cameraman, and he speculated he was saved solely because he was an American and his cameraman was from Britain, and they “didn’t want to create an international incident.”
This scene shows the relieved aftermath from the chaotic scene:
Here’s the whole dispatch:
Ostrovsky’s final dispatch came on Sunday, when he began detailing the events in Slavyansk. It ended with the same final credits as the other 27 that came before it: “TO BE CONTINUED.”
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