MOSCOW, November 29 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva, who was abducted in Syria in October, said in a YouTube video on Wednesday that she worked for Russian intelligence.
“I came to Syria on January 2012 as a journalist with a forged ID but my main task was to translate between Syrian officers and their Russian counterparts,” Kochneva says in Arabic in a three-minute video. “I’m here [in Syria] at the behest of Russian intelligence.”
She said she took part in Syrian army operations in Baba Amro, Zabadani, Aleppo and Idlib.
“They kidnapped me when I was returning from Tartus to Damascus with a captain in the Syrian army whom was assigned to protect me,” she said. “I ask the government of Russia and Ukraine to respond to the kidnappers’ demands.”
Kochneva, a citizen of Ukraine known as an expert on Syrian affairs and an outspoken supporter of President Bashar al-Assad, has been covering events in various parts of the conflict-torn Arab country freelancing for various media outlets.
The 40-year-old journalist went missing in early October as she traveled to the city of Homs.
On November 8, a video in which the kidnapped journalist pleads to the Russian and Ukrainian embassies and the Syrian government to fulfill the kidnappers’ demands was posted on the website of the Free Syrian Army.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn said on November 13 the authorities had been in talks with the abductors, but refused to disclose any details.