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Zvezda TV head: Reporters were set free thanks to mobile’s malfunction

June 17, 2014, 18:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The phone's ‘end call’ button got stuck and everything that was being said during the interrogation could be heard at the editorial office in Russia
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Yevgeny Davydov and Nikita Konashenkov

Yevgeny Davydov and Nikita Konashenkov

© ITAR-TASS/Artyom Korotayev

MOSCOW, June 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Militants of Ukraine’s radical ultra nationalist Right Sector movement beat up the reporters of the Russian Zvezda television channel — Yevgeny Davydov and Nikita Konashenkov — trying to get fabricated evidence and the journalist's plight would have been far worse but for timely support from Moscow.

To a large extent the reporters owe their prompt release to a malfunctioning mobile phone. The phone's ‘end call’ button got stuck and everything that was being said during the interrogation could be heard at the editorial office in Russia, the chief of the Defense Ministry-run Zvezda media corporation, Alexei Pimanov, said on Tuesday.

The Zvezda editorial office recorded all of the abductors’ conversations and interrogations via Davydov’s mobile. The reporter had been allowed to make a brief call to the editor in Moscow. Nobody of the Right Sector militants noticed that his phone remained active all the time, Pimanov said.

“We understood at once that our guys were in big trouble,” he said. “Here in Moscow we located their whereabouts. Otherwise they would not have been here with us now.”

“We started phoning Ukraine’s Security Service and the Interior Ministry,” he said. “We officially announced that we knew where the reporters were being kept and that we knew even the exact address. This drastically changed the situation.”

Russia’s embassy in Ukraine and Foreign Ministry took active steps for securing the release of the camera crew.

On June 14 Ukrainian National Guards abducted Yevgeny Davydov and Nikita Konashenkov at a checking point about 120 kilometers from the city of Dnipropetrovsk, when the reporters were on the way to the airport for a flight to Moscow after their assignment was over. The militants blindfolded them and forced them into a car at gunpoint.

Davydov and Konashenkov said that the abductors refused to give them water or food and did not let them go to the toilet during the first twelve hours after detention. Then they were taken out for interrogation several times and beaten up. At a certain point the issue of a ransom was raised. The militants demanded $200,000.

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