Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ukraine: Local Journalist Anton Skiba, Hired as Translator by CNN for One Day, Kidnapped

According to and CNN, a Ukrainian journalist working as a fixer for CNN was reportedly abducted by pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine two days ago, CNN said today.

Anton Skiba was reportedly abducted outside the Donbass Palace hotel in the rebel-controlled eastern city of Donetsk. He had only worked for CNN for one day with a CNN television crew. See:

COMMENT: CNN was reportedly in the Ukraine covering the crash of MH Flight 17, which was reportedly shot down by a Russian missile on July 17. 

According to CNN, the separatists were less concerned with Skiba's Facebook page and more with the fact that he possessed different forms of identification with differing names.

CNN reported that as Skiba and the network's crew returned to the hotel from the crash site Tuesday evening (July 22), gunmen approached Skiba, accused him of terrorism and his apparent calling for the death of pro-Russian separatists on Facebook, and then escorted him to a waiting vehicle.

"Since his detention, CNN has endeavored through a number of different separatist officials, including the office of the self-declared separatist Prime Minister Alexander Borodai, to secure Skiba's freedom," an article on the CNN website emphasized.

"CNN chose not to report his abduction at the time while making efforts to obtain his release. That has not happened to date, so CNN is now publicly asking those who are holding Skiba to release him immediately."

CNN reported that Skiba's abductors included Alexandr Kalyussky, a deputy prime minister in the separatist-formed government that controls the rebel-held eastern region of Ukraine, which the separatists have dubbed the Donetsk People's Republic. 

Alexandr Kalyussky is one of the people named on the European Union's list of Russian and Ukrainian citizens against which it has imposed economic sanctions because of the ongoing conflict in the country.

Donetsk province is one of the eastern regions of Ukraine at the center of several months of violent clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian nationalists that support the central government that came into power after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Donetsk is the administrative capital of the region and about 50 kilometers west of the MH17 crash site.

Several organizations have condemned Skiba's abduction and called for his release, including:

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The Committee to  Protect Journalists

Reporters Without Borders

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.