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Russian Zvezda TV channel says journalists disappear in east Ukraine

June 07, 2014, 0:49 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The reporters were going from Donetsk to Slavyansk
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© ITAR-TASS/ Mikhail Pochuyev

MOSCOW, June 07 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s television channel Zvezda (Star) says it has lost contact with its two reporters currently on an assignment in eastern Ukraine.

“Cameraman Andrei Sushenkov and sound engineer Anton Malyshev have been unavailable ever since they arrived at a checkpoint in the Donetsk Region,” the TV channel says on its website.

It is known that the journalists were on the way from Donetsk to besieged Slaviansk. They had entered Ukraine on June 4 officially, as journalists accredited to cover the forthcoming inauguration of president-elect Pyotr Poroshenko.

The TV channel said its correspondent, Yevgeny Davydov, had been in touch with the camera crew throughout their stay in Ukraine. Last time he contacted his colleagues at 17.30 local time on Friday, when they were at a National Guard roadblock near the village of Bylbasovka, 20 kilometres away from Slaviansk.

“First they tried to enter the city using an ordinary road in the area of the village of Cherevkovka. That route was blocked by the Ukrainian army. Then they tried to get into Slaviansk via a bypass road, 50 kilometres longer. Local civilians had told them security rules there were not very strict,” the TV channel said.

“The last phone call was when the journalists were very close to Slaviansk. They said they were being searched by National Guards and promised to call again as soon as the search would end. Their phone numbers have been unavailable since then. Attempts to contact their driver, a resident of Slaviansk, have failed, too,” Zvezda’s correspondent Yevgeny Davydov said.

According to people’s militia inside Slaviansk Zvezda’s journalists had not entered the city over the past several hours. Their whereabouts are unknown. The militia are pushing ahead with inquiries about what may have happened to the reporters.

Channel has asked Poroshenko to intervene

The management of Zvezda channel has asked Ukraine’s president-elect, Pyotr Poroshenko, to intervene to secure the journalists’ release. 

The TV channel says on its website the two journalists - Andrei Sushenkov and Anton Malyshev - had entered Ukraine officially on June 4 for covering the presidential inauguration. Contact with them was lost after they were stopped at a checkpoint in the Donetsk Region on the way to Slaviansk.

The TV channel says that cameraman, Andrei Sushenkov at about 17.30 local time told the channels’ producer in Moscow by telephone they were being searched at a National Gaurd post near the village of Bylbasovka and that their documents had been taken away. The journalists have been unaccounted for ever since.

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