Ukraine crisis: Ukrainian journalist being held by pro-Russian separatists is accused of 'war crimes'

Irma Krat was taken captive on Sunday for her suspected involvement in the mistreatment of riot policemen and a Russian journalist

A Ukrainian journalist has been taken captive by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on account of her alleged involvement in “war crimes”.

Irma Krat, 29, was seized late on Sunday by militants in the city of Slovyansk, according to Oleg Veremienko, a lawyer for the online news site Ms Krat runs.

Russian internet channel Life News posted a video of her being escorted by masked men in combat gear and of an activist saying she was under arrest.

It showed a woman it said was Ms Krat with her face concealed by a scarf, saying in Ukrainian: “They detained me but they are treating me alright. They will check the reports I've filed and then they'll decide when to let me go.”

A man in camouflage gear whose name was given as Pavel told Life News she was being investigated for “war crimes” against riot police and civilians during the pro-Western Kiev protests, which led to the departure of Moscow-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich in February.

On Monday Ms Krat confirmed she is being questioned but not mistreated after she was brought briefly before reporters.

Emerging from the Ukrainian state security service building in Slovyansk, she said: “Conditions are OK. It is a bit cold, but they are giving me food, water.”

She added that she was not aware of a second Ukrainian journalist reported to have been held there since last week.

A member of the local militia holding Ms Krat, who did not give his name, said of the allegations against her: “We are checking that information."

He added: “If it turns out to be true, she will be handed over to the police.”

Ms Krat herself said she was not being “accused” but was being asked about her activities locally.

 

After a few minutes, Ms Krat was blindfolded and led back into the building.

Ukrainian journalists have also said that another reporter, 22-year-old freelancer Serhiy Lefter, has not been heard of since last week, when acquaintances believed he was held in Slovyansk. The activists have not commented on his whereabouts.

Other journalists have been held for up to a few hours by armed men who took over public buildings in Slovyansk nine days ago as part of a wider protest movement in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

They are demanding a referendum to decide the future of Ukraine.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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