SLAVIANSK, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – Self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine said Wednesday they could not confirm the reports that US journalist Simon Ostrovsky had been taken captive by federalists in Slaviansk, calling his disappearance "a PR campaign."
“We don’t have him here and we don’t know where he is. I think that his disappearance is a kind of a PR campaign,” a spokesman for the self-defense forces, Yevgeniy Horbik, told reporters at a press conference.
Ostrovsky, a US journalist with Vice News, was reportedly captured by unidentified people in uniform in Slaviansk on Tuesday, according to media reports of statements by self-proclaimed local mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov.
A RIA Novosti correspondent in Slaviansk could not immediately confirm the report of Ostrovsky’s detention, saying Ponomaryov told journalists at a press conference on Tuesday that Ostrovsky "is here, working on an article."
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović voiced concern Wednesday about reports of the detention of the US journalist. “I call on all those responsible to stop harassing and attacking journalists and let them do their job. Simon Ostrovsky should be released immediately," she added.
The city of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine has seen waves of pro-federalization rallies in recent weeks. Ukrainian authorities have attempted to crack down on the protests with force, and the city saw a deadly attack by unidentified gunmen on self-defense forces over the weekend.