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Ukrainian Authorities Claim Detained Russian Journalists Had Missile

Published: May 21, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • A Youtube video purports to show two Russian journalists and an unidentified third detainee being held by Ukrainian soldiers.
    Photo: Life-Maria Channel / YouTube

Ukrainian authorities have alleged that two Russian reporters detained by the country's security forces were armed and involved in terrorism amid growing Russian and international appeals for their release.

The deputy secretary of Ukraine's National Security Defense Council, Viktoria Syumar, told Ukraine's Channel 5 on Monday that a portable anti-aircraft missile was found in the vehicle of Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, two reporters from Russia's LifeNews Internet portal and television channel.

"Whether they were helping someone transport it [the portable anti-aircraft missile] or using it themselves needs to be clarified at this point," Syumar said. "This is a classic case of undercover work."

Syumar said her organization had received video and photographic evidence that the reporters "always worked together with terrorists during attacks and killings."

President Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday that Russia was demanding the immediate release of Sidyakin and Saichenko, who were detained near the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Sunday.

The Foreign Ministry also published a statement Monday saying it "wished to remind Mrs. Syumar and the country's political actors that fighting against undesirable journalists is not the best way to convince the world and the Ukrainian people that the authorities in Kiev are committed to freedom and democracy."

The editor-in-chief of LifeNews, Anatoly Suleimanov, vehemently denied Syumar's suggestion that the reporters had been collaborating with pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

"I am sure that if the Ukrainian authorities looked a little harder, they would even find a tank in that car," Suleimanov said in a telephone interview with The St. Petersburg Times.

"Marat [Saichenko] is the best paparazzi in Russia. Ukrainian authorities only need to Google him to see that he is always at the heart of the action, that he records everything. Thousands of journalists in Russia know Marat. If he were involved in any kind of wrongdoing, everyone would know about it."

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