Journalists Abducted, Bulgarian TV Crew Harassed in Crimea
Three Ukrainian journalists were kidnapped in the autonomous Crimea region.
According to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, all of them were in the same car, traveling to the north of the Crimean Peninsula from the mainland.
They were halted at a border checkpoint recently set up near the village of Perekop. Their car was ransacked, and the journalists themselves were forced out of the vehicle by armed men which set off in an unknown direction.
The equipment of a Bulgarian TV crew was also ransacked in Crimea.
No trouble followed upon entering Crimean territory, but the crew was stopped near Simferopol, apparently for a routine search, as Mario Gavrilov, Bulgarian National Television's special envoy to Crimea, reported over Skype during the morning program of the public broadcaster's BNT1 channel.
The Bulgarians were checked by masked men armed with AK-47 assault rifles, some with Russian insignia. They thoroughly examined the crew's baggage and allowed them to go on, but seized all their helms and vests, which had been provided by the TV.
Gavrilov said the checks were conducted in a rather aggressive manner.
Tensions have been rising in Ukraine's region of Crimea, after the local government announced it was seceding from Ukraine and would join Russia, with the measure coming into effect after a referendum on March 16.
Lots of steps have been taken in Crimea toward splitting over the past few days. Setting up of Crimean institutions (not dependent on Kiev) has been initiated, and Ukrainian TV channels on the peninsula are not broadcasting anymore.
Some administrations in Crimea, like Sevastopol, have already approved Russian as an official language in court, and a fiscal shift to Russian currency could reportedly be expected soon.
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