Ukraine continues to face strong opposition from pro-Russian militia members in the city of Slavyansk, where American journalist, Simon Ostrovsky, has been covering the day-to-day events in the region. Ostrovsky, who works for a Brooklyn based company called Vice News was one of four journalists that was detained this past week by the pro-Russian militants. The group responsible for the detainment are militants and members of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.” Vice News, a company that produces hard-hitting documentaries, including the crisis in the Ukriane announced yesterday that the journalist had been released after spending three nights, illegally detained in a damp cellar in the Ukraine state security building.
Ostrovsky, a duel citizen of the United States and Israel has become extremely popular in recent weeks with his frequent dispatches called, “Russian Roulette.” The dispatches follow him as he reports from the front lines of the conflict. The reports, which have been posted every day or two have racked up millions of hits on YouTube and the Vice News website since they premiered Dispatch One on March 3, 2014. He has become well known for his very direct questioning of pro-Russian militants, as well as numerous members of the Right-Sector.
At times, his journalistic quest for up-to-the-minute information has landed him in sticky situations, including the airing of Dispatch Twenty-Six that saw Ostrovsky, clad in a bullet proof vest and helmet report from the inside of a police station that had been taken over by militants in the eastern city of Horlivka. Footage showed the group storm the building and shatter glass windows with chairs in an attempt to take over the building. In a very anxious moment, Ostrovsky said on camera that, “This is not a genius move on my part.”
According to a post on the Vice News website, written by Ostrovsky, on April 21, he was yanked from a car at a local checkpoint, and was then accused by the militants of being aligned with the CIA, FBI, and the nationalist Right-Sector group. He was then tied up and beaten, held for three days and three nights before being released onto the streets of eastern Ukraine. The journalist, who had previously questioned Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the leader of the pro-Russian forces about the ongoing crisis later confirmed that we was detained to be used as a bargaining chip.
Shortly following his detainment, Vice News posted a statement, notifying its viewers that they were aware of the situation, and were working with the US State Department, and other government departments to ensure his safe release.
Following a few days of uncertainty surrounding the current state and condition of the journalist, a statement posted Thursday evening on the Vice News homepage announced the release of Simon Ostrovsky, saying that he was safe and in good health. A posting to Ostrovsky’s Twitter page also announced his release, as he thanked concerned viewers for the support.
During an extremely tense period in the eastern regions of the Ukraine, Ostrovsky’s coverage of the crisis has given viewers an up-close and personal view into the ongoing conflict. For now, the dispatches have been put on hold, and no reports have been released as to whether or not the ongoing reporting by Ostrovsky and Vice News will continue.
By Johnny Caito