A Russian and a Belorussian national, both employees of the Russian NTV channel have been detained in the city Pershotravensk in Dnipropetrovsk region, SBU announced. Earlier it was reported that both journalists vanished.
The men were detained by Ukraine's "Dnepr" unit on Wednesday when they were filming administrative buildings on hidden cameras. The men are being investigated under article that forbids the use of "special technical means of obtaining information."
One of the men showed passport of Belarus and presented himself to be a journalists for Russian NTV channel, yet he failed to provide any press credentials. The second detainee is a Russian citizen who lives in the Lugansk region of Ukraine, Ukrainian Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said.
Earlier, RT managed to get a hold of the NTV program host who said that a Belarusian citizen Stepan Chirich, a producer for the weekly program Central Television, went to the city of Pershotravinsk in the Dnepropetrovsk region to make a report about the visit of a well-known exorcist, Pastor Bob Larson, who’s there as part of his world tour.
“We lost contact with [Chirich] on Tuesday evening,” Vadim Takmenyov, the program’s host, told RT.
Chirich has been working for the program for several years.
“We sent him to Ukraine – a producer, not a correspondent – because he is the only Central Television employee who has a Belarusian passport, using which one can cross the [Russian-Ukrainian] border without any problems and do his professional activities,” Takmenyov said.
Takmenyov underlined that political events in the crisis-torn country were completely unrelated to that particular trip.
A cameraman who was working with the NTV producer was from Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine, who too went missing.
Earlier, the channel said that the disappearance and subsequent detention of the crew might be connected with reports about the detention of two suspected Russian “saboteurs” in Dnepropetrovsk region.
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, two men “pretending to be journalists” were grabbed by local militia and passed over to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) after filming a police station and the city council in Pershotravinsk.
Citing unofficial sources, the paper said the unnamed men had Belarusian passports, but equipment they used “indicated their relation to Russian intelligence.”
He said the channel sent to its colleagues in Ukraine documents proving that Chirich has nothing to do with any intelligence services.
“We hope [journalists in Ukraine] will report on [the incident] in one or another way, but fairly, and say that we are looking for our colleague,” the NTV journalist added in a telephone comment to RT.
Following the February coup in Kiev, Russian journalists and TV crews have repeatedly beendenied entry to Ukraine on various pretexts.The new authorities also accused several Russian television channels of propaganda and ordered local cable providers to cut them off.
Later, some providers – primarily in eastern Ukraine – resumed broadcast of Russian channels.
Earlier in April, the Russian upper house of parliament said in a statement that Russian journalists “are facing psychological and physical pressure in Ukraine” while the country’s online media reporting on the crisis “is being attacked by hackers.”
Last week, a journalist and a camerawoman for Russia’s LifeNews were detained and questionedfor many hours by Ukraine law enforcers.