MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) – Two Russian journalists with English-language RT channel and ANNA-News agency, including a UK citizen, are at the mercy of Ukrainian authorities after they went missing overnight in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, adding they must be released at one.
“According to our information, they are held by the Ukrainian authorities,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it demands “the immediate release” of the captives.
RT stringer and UK citizen Graham Phillips, and an ANNA-News agency cameraman Vadim Aksyonov went missing in eastern Ukraine together with two other people – an acquaintance by Phillips and an employee of the Donetsk People’s Republic press service.
Militia in the region said they were going to check reports that allege the journalists had been seized by pro-Kiev Ukrainian Guard troops.
“It is news to me. I cannot confirm it yet. Will be checking,” said Alexander Boroday, a leader and commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in a phone comment to RIA Novosti.
According to DPR press service, RT’s British stringer Graham Phillips with a group of journalists travelled to a combat zone around the Donetsk airport on Tuesday night where there was shooting.
He reportedly attempted to approach the positions of pro-government forces together with a colleague of his. After a while, the second journalists called the reporters who stayed behind in a car and told them that “Graham was taken [prisoner].” He said he was hiding inside a supermarket nearby. The cellphone has been silent ever since.
ANNA-news said later its cameraman was working with Phillips in the same area when the agency lost contact with him, approximately at the same time as the RT stringer went missing. Militia told ANNA-news their employee had also been abducted by the Ukrainian military.
The UK Foreign Office said Wednesday it was looking into the details of Philip’s disappearance. It is not the first time that the journalist has vanished in Ukraine. He was previously detained in the southeastern city of Mariupol by Ukrainian troops who later released him.
In late June, correspondent for Russia’s state-owned VGTRK media holding Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin were killed by mortar fire near the city of Luhansk. Journalists of LifeNews, Russia’s Channel-1, VGTRK and other Russian media outlets have been shelled and wounded while covering the conflict in Ukraine.