- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that it is “deeply concerned” about reports that Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been kidnapped by pro-Russian separatists in the Slaviansk city of eastern Ukraine.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the apparent kidnapping would violate terms of a de-escalation deal reached last week in Geneva, Business Insider reported.

“We are deeply concerned about the reports of a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen journalist in Slovyansk, Ukraine, reportedly at the hands of pro-Russian separatists,” Miss Psaki said.

“We condemn any such actions, and all recent hostage takings in eastern Ukraine, which directly violate commitments made in the Geneva joint statement,” she said. “We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine. We have also raised our concerns with Ukrainian officials as they work with local authorities to try to de-escalate the security situation in and around Slovyansk.”

The city’s self-declared separatist mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told a news conference Monday that his men were holding the journalist.

Vice News did not confirm specific details, but tweeted Tuesday morning: “We are aware of @SimonOstrovsky’s situation and are working to ensure the safety and security of our friend and colleague.”

Mr. Ostrovsky has been covering the crisis in Ukraine for weeks. His last tweets were made Monday when he covered an earlier news conference by Mr. Ponomaryov.

“Sloviansk pro-Russia ‘mayor’ threatens to throw journalist out for ‘provocative’ question about former mayor being held under guard,” he said.

His last tweet read: “Now he’s not letting reporters leave the press conference: ‘you’ll go as you came in. In a group.’ That’s one way to guarantee coverage.”