Russian troops abduct US reporter in Ukraine, threaten to kill him (video)

VICE News’ Simon Ostrovsky, an American reporter, was abducted by Russian troops in Ukraine who grabbed Ostrovksy and his crew, threatened to kill them, and then twisted the arms of Ostrovsky and his British photographer behind their backs and led them away to be interrogated.

Ostrovksy’s camera man ran for the hills, and was able to get away with the footage of the incident, which Ostrovksy thinks helped guarantee their eventual release by the Russians.

Ostrovsky talks about how at one point the Russia soldier, who had already abducted him, claimed that his crew had weapons on them, including a knife and something else.  Which was a total lie.

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The same thing happened to three Norwegian journalists with public broadcaster NRK who had their equipment confiscated by aggressive, masked armed Russian troops.

“They stood there with their masks and loaded weapons and accused us of being spies.”

The guards confiscated three PCs, all the material the team had filmed, memory sticks, a small camera, as well as bulletproof vests and helmets they had with them for their personal safety, he added….

“They stood there with their masks and loaded weapons and accused us of being spies.”

The guards confiscated three PCs, all the material the team had filmed, memory sticks, a small camera, as well as bulletproof vests and helmets they had with them for their personal safety, he added.

Not terribly subtle what Russia is hoping happens next to these journalists.

This gets to the larger issue of why the Russians are using an unmarked, undeclared occupation force in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine (this was outside of Crimea, but still in Ukraine).

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Why do Russian troops keep hiding their faces? The same reason anyone hides their face – so they can’t be charged with a crime.

It’s not just about plausible deniability – everyone knows these guys are Russian soldiers.  I worry about what the ulterior motive is.  Possibly the Russians think this will give them license to commit crimes, including war crimes.  License to incite violence, which they then can use as a justification for a full invasion and annexation of Ukraine.  I’m not sure.  But clearly, Russian troops are acting like, and looking like, thugs.  And the masks give them immunity from prosecution on a personal, and national level.  It’s all pretty scary.

Here’s a quick snippet. Ostrovsky’s longer 10-minute report is below.

Ostrovsky’s quite good, speaks Russian fluently.  It’s worth checking out the VICE News site, they cover human rights worldwide, with a focus on Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and more.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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