Two dead men whose bodies were marked with signs of “brutal torture” were found dumped near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, according to numerous media reports.
One has yet to be identified.
Israeli-American journalist Simon Ostrovsky was kidnapped on Monday by armed gunmen working for the self-declared separatist mayor of Slaviansk. He is being held hostage in the eastern Ukranian city, now under pro-Russian rule. Mr. Ostrovsky, who works for the HBO-owned Vice News media outlet, has not been seen or heard from since his capture.
The second was allegedly identified in a preliminary investigation as that of Volodymyr Rybak, a member of the ruling Ukrainian Batkivshchyna party. Mr. Rybak was kidnapped last Wednesday by terrorists in Horlivka. His body was found in the Seversky-Donets River. Mr. Rybak served as a local council member in the town of Horlivka, near Donetsk.
Although the identification has yet to confirmed, Ukrainian interim President Oleksander Turchinov said in a statement to media that at least one of the bodies appeared to be that of Mr. Rybak. Turchinov called for an anti-terrorist operation to be relaunched in Ukraine.
Despite efforts by fellow journalists to determine his status and condition, journalist Simon Ostrovsky has not been seen since.
The Israeli government did not respond to phone calls and an email from The Jewish Press asking for a comment on the situation.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing on Monday, that the U.S. believes “there’s a strong connection between Russia and the armed militants that we’ve seen in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and other places… what we see in the photos that have been, again, in international media, on Twitter, and publicly available, is that there are individuals who visibly appear to be tied to Russia. We’ve said that publicly a countless number of times.”
Psaki added that Secretary of State John Kerry had called on Russia to speak out against the seizing of journalists and other innocents as hostages.