Syrian rebels threaten Ukrainian journalist with death
The deadline for the ransom payment is set for December 13, 2012, the journalist’s friend and Russian ex-MP Darya Mitina has told reporters. “If the money isn’t paid by that time, she will be killed as a ‘Ukrainian spy’,” she added.
Ankhar Kochneva’s relatives have confirmed that the kidnappers contacted them and demanded a ransom but said they didn’t believe December 13 was the deadline.
Kochneva’s nephew Dmitry was cited as saying he had no detail of negotiations to free his aunt. “The foreign office is saying they are working on it. But we don’t know what exactly is being done,” he said.
Ankhar Kochneva, a Ukrainian journalist who went missing in Syria on October 10, contacted her relatives for the first time on Sunday, saying she hoped everything would be fine and asking not to call her.
Kochneva’s ex-husband Dmitry Petrov told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper he had received an SMS from the journalist’s phone number reading: “I hope for the best. Don’t message me.”
A similar text was reportedly sent to one of her friends. In it Koncheva also mentioned that she had been kidnapped.
The Russian embassy in Damascus has shown active support of Ukrainian authorities in their search for the 40-year-old, who was believed to be an active advocate of the Assad regime.
She was allegedly abducted by Syrian rebels in the outskirts of Homs. Russian journalist Yelena Gromova confessed she and her close friend Ankhar Koncheva often received threatening messages from the Moscow-based Syrian opposition on social networking sites.
Ankhar Kochneva, a journalist kidnapped in Syria, was a Ukrainian national, said Sergei Marov, spokesman of the Russian embassy in Damascus.
“It’s become known to the Russian embassy that she was a citizen of Ukraine. She wasn’t accredited to work here [in Syria],” he reported.
Mr. Markov said the Russian diplomatic mission was closely cooperating with Ukrainian officials looking for the journalist.
Ankhar Kochneva went missing Friday. Her friend Darya Mitina said she was last seen 20 kilometers from the city of Homs.
Voice of Russia, RIA, Rosbalt