Vice Journalist Held Captive: 'They Just Want[ed] to Put a Scare in Me' (Video)

7:04 AM PST 04/28/2014 by THR Staff
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Simon Ostrovsky

Simon Ostrovsky opens up exclusively to "Today's" Savannah Guthrie about his three days being held and beaten in the Ukraine.

In his first TV interview since he was released after being held captive for three days in Ukraine, Vice journalist Simon Ostrovsky revealed what transpired while he was in the war-torn area.

Ostrovsky was violently detained by militia at a checkpoint in the pro-Russian stronghold of Slaviansk.

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Speaking on NBC's Today, Ostrovsky revealed that he and his cameraman had been filming with someone from the pro-Russian paramilitary, who showed them his Russian passport, which is something people have been looking into. When they got to their last checkpoint before their hotel, the officials had a photograph of him and took him to security headquarters, where he was held for three days and beaten.

"I still don't know up until now why they were looking for me specifically beyond the fact that they were unhappy with my reporting," Ostrovsky said. "Because I've seen some press conferences that the leader of pro-Russian militants in Slaviansk has given to journalists, where he says that he was trying to teach me a lesson."

Ostrovsky has since revealed that he was blindfolded and beaten, but he told Today that they were only attacking him on his torso, which offered him a bit of relief.

"I realized that they weren't trying to hit me in the face and weren't trying to leave any lasting marks, so that was encouraging for me," Ostrovsky said. "I just thought to myself, 'I can probably take a beating; I don't think they want to kill me; I think they just want[ed] to put a scare in me.' And it was really scary."

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He also described what his captors accused him of when he was being interrogated.

"They asked me if I was a CIA agent, FBI. They even accused me of being a member of the far-right Ukrainian nationalist movement rights sector, which seemed like a pretty ridiculous thing for me, but they see them as being sponsored by the West, too. So that fits into their view of the West ganging up on Russia and trying to take Ukraine for itself."

Despite his harrowing experience, Ostrovsky said that he would like to return to Ukraine and keep reporting from there.

"I think the reason they took me is they wanted to stop me from reporting, so I'd really like to go back to Ukraine and continue sending stories from there because that's really what it's all about," he said.

Watch Ostrovsky's full interview below.

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