US journalist Ostrovsky freed by Russian puppets in Ukraine

UPDATE: Russia’s puppets in Ukraine have freed their hostage, American journalist Simon Ostrovsky. Screen-Shot-2014-04-24-at-1.19.36-PM Russian puppet Vyachislav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed “mayor” of the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, held a press conference yesterday in which he explained why his forces, which everyone assumes are working at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, kidnapped an American journalist, Simon Ostrovsky. The Russian puppet’s excuse? He didn’t like what Ostrovsky was reporting. Welcome to Soviet Union 2.0.

Simon Ostrovsky, courtesy of his eponymous Web site.

Simon Ostrovsky, courtesy of his eponymous Web site.

Ukraine Live Blog published a translation of Ponomaryov’s press conference, which was posted on Facebook by Ivar Dale, and then reposted by Oksana Chelysheva. It’s not too long, disturbing and worth a read.  At one point, Ponomaryov appears to suggest that Ostrovsky is being held hostage, in exchange for Russian-affiliated provocateurs. At another point, Ponomaryov mentions, oddly, that Ostrovsky is a dual citizen of Israel (according to Wikipedia, Ostrovsky is Soviet-born, and now a dual citizen of the US and Israel).  Ironically, Israel has not been as helpful as it could be, including Israel recently choosing not to side with the US on United Nations resolutions criticizing Russia for its actions in Ukraine. ukraine-map-slovyanskIt’s not at all clear why that’s relevant, but judging by Russia’s past and present virulent anti-Semitism (the Putin government has been coddling neo-Nazis gangs for several years now), it’s not surprising.  Also, someone recently distributed flyers in the eastern Ukraine demanding that Jews register with pro-Russian separatists. Of course, Ostrovsky’s kidnapping ups the ante for both the US and Israel. It’s one thing to claim that we don’t have a dog in this fight.  It’s quite another when Russian-controlled forces started holding American citizens hostage, let alone US journalists. (Clearly, the Russians still don’t understand how modern PR works – what a brain-dead move, kidnapping a western journalist). Here’s the transcript of the press conference

Absurd press conference of the separatist mayor of Slovyansk, regarding our dear friend Simon Ostrovsky, who is being held hostage. The translation is from Ukraine Live Blog. —– Reporter: Where is he? Ponomaryov: He’s alive and well, thank God. Reporter: Where is he? Ponomaryov: He’s with us. Reporters: Where? Where? Ponomaryov: [Laughs] In a preliminary detention cell. Reporter: Why are you holding him? Ponomaryov: Huh? Reporter: Why are you holding him?

Ponomaryov: So he wouldn’t put out a lot of provocative commentary, so he wouldn’t conduct hostile activity on our territory. In the final analysis, he is an undesirable element in our area. Since — and I repeat again — we know all the journalists, we are familiar with you all, we talk to you all, we reached a certain agreement about what and how you are to clearly and accurately broadcast information received, not to exaggerate the facts. Reporter: But… you want to tell us… Ponomaryov: Wait. And not to distort reality. Therefore, please, continue to work, we’re not interfering in any way, we are open to you to the maximum. If you don’t violate our agreement and we…will continue to cooperate with you. Reporter: Do you have some kind of proof of his condition, can we talk to him, can we see him? So that we know…well, somehow…we don’t know… Ponomaryov: You know what, I’ll tell you the following. Listen to me carefully. Why do none of you ever pay any attention to the fact that in the isolation cells of the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] there are a lot of our activists, in particular, Pavel Gubarev, the People’s Governor of Donetsk Region. Why don’t you focus attention on that? But you have intense attention for some journalist provocateur, intense, giving out all sorts of rumors where he is and so on. I assure you — I assure you. Nothing bad is happening to him. He is eating normally. He is being held in normal conditions. He’s clean, washed, that is, well… Reporter: He’s a journalist. Ponomaryov: And so what now? But if he conducts himself aggressively, if he is provocative, what now, he’s allowed to do anything? Or what? Reporter: Yesterday, you said he was writing some material, what’s going on? Ponomaryov: Yes, that’s correct. He’s gathering some material while he’s in the KPZ [preliminary detention cell] so that he can share it with you when he gets out. Reporter: When is he getting out? Ponomaryov: When it’s time, then he’ll get out. When we consider it necessary for him to get out, then we’ll let him out. I could ask the same question, so to say, of the representatives of the Kiev junta. When are you going to let out our activists? When are they going to stop abusing them? That’s it. You understand. We’re not discovering anything new, we’re not doing anything new. Reporter: What do you want from him, in order to let him go? You said you’d let him out “when it’s time,” and “when you’re ready.” What do you want? Ponomaryov: Let him be our guest. Reporter: Is he a hostage? Ponomaryov: Of course not. He’s a walking around. It’s just that we defined his place of stay, so to speak. Reporter: What is his status? Ponomaryov: Huh? Reporter: What is his legal status? Ponomaryov: We said from the beginning that we have one intention. And then it turns out he is nevertheless a citizen of Israel. And then this morning your colleague from Moscow tried to explain that to me that he is a person with dual citizenship, American and Israeli. That is, I myself would like to determine who he is. Either he has American citizenship or he has Israeli citizenship. Or maybe it’s Ethiopian. Let them declare about him his rights from Madagascar or somewhere else… Reporter: What is his status with you? Ponomaryov: Huh?! Reporter: Is he detained, arrested, accused? Ponomaryov: Detained.

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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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