A journalist for a Moscow opposition newspaper was detained, beaten, and accused of committing drug offenses in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The UN has recently named Ukraine the most dangerous place for reporters in the world.
Pavel Kanygin, a
reporter for Novaya Gazeta, was in Donetsk to cover an anti-war
demonstration on Monday. The following day, he was stopped by a
group of men, who he said introduced themselves as “DPR
security officials.” They searched him, and after finding a
Ukrainian journalist’s business card, accused him of working for
“I was taken to the [DPR] security ministry, where one of the
officers pointed a gun at me, and said he’d shoot me, if I so
much as moved an inch,” Kanygin told Novaya Gazeta after
being released on Tuesday night.
Kanygin, who had previously been detained in militia-controlled
Slavyansk last year, said he was asked if he was “for us…or
for Kiev,” to which he replied “I am for peace.”
The interrogator then hit the journalist in the face. Kanygin
subsequently posted a picture of himself sporting a black eye on
his Facebook account.
Kanygun was then questioned and asked to undergo a test, which
supposedly detected the presence of illegal substances in his
bloodstream: “They told me that I was a junkie, and said I
received my salary in drugs from Kiev’s security agency and the
US State Department,” recounted Kanygin. He added on
Facebook that in the past week he has faced mirror accusations of
being an “FSB [Russian security service] agent” when
reporting in the Kiev-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.
Novaya Gazeta, known for publishing articles by murdered
investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, immediately appealed
to Moscow authorities to secure its reporter’s release. By late
Tuesday afternoon, a Foreign Ministry representative said on
Facebook it would “take all necessary
steps to protect Russian journalists.” On Tuesday evening,
Kanygin was driven to the Russian border with Ukraine, and handed
over to border guards, before being debriefed by the FSB.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic
said during a Monday conference on journalist safety that Ukraine
remained the “most dangerous place in the world” for journalists.
The OSCE says that there have been more than 300 attacks on media
representatives in Ukraine – both intentional and accidental –
since the armed conflict broke out in the spring of 2014. This
includes attacks committed by the pro-Kiev forces.
On Sunday, Alexander Gayuk, a freelancer working for AFP, became
the latest journalist to be hit by a shell while taking
photographs in Donetsk, taking a shell fragment in the leg.
Shelling has killed more than half a dozen journalists in the
breakaway region in the past year. Other incidents, such as
repeated abductions of warzone reporters, and the gunning down of
Ukrainian opposition commentator Oleg Buzina earlier this year,
have been deemed a part of an open campaign to intimidate