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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Liveblog Day 132: Captured Freelancer Shown on Video

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Stringer Reported Captured Released, Then Shown on Video in Captivity

Vladimir Alexandrovich, a 16-year-old stringer for ANNA news service, held in captivity for two days by unknown persons, was released Friday, ANNA reported.

Alexandrovich, known as "Vlad" or by his handle Bessmertny [Deathless], was contacted by telephone by an ANNA newscaster who had a brief conversation with the boy, as seen in a video uploaded June 27th. He said he was in "normal" condition, thanked the news service for campaigning for his release, but said he would only speak about who had detained him and what he had experienced at a later time.

As we reported, Alexandrovich, whose age has been variously described as 16 or 18, was said by his mother to have unexpectedly disappeared on Thursday while at a public event, leaving behind his tablet, cell phone, and ID. "Streamer Vlad," as he was known was famous in the area for filming battle scenes, which he gave to the regional pro-separatist ANNA news service.

Then today, a video appeared on ANNA's YouTube channel and social media purporting to show Alexandrovich in captivity, his face showing marks of beating, being handled roughly by his captor.

The Interpreter has provided a transcript of the video:

Captor: All of those who are tearing my country into pieces, all those who have seized my native town Donetsk, all of those who have raised the flag of Russia, DPR [Donetsk People's Republic] and other freaks will be punished, as is happening here with this monster.

It doesn't matter how old you are, 16, 20, 25 or 50, we will come to each of you, there are enough bullets for everybody. I'm telling you this, as a Donetskan.

Do you understand me?

Vlad. Yes.

Captor: What country are you in?

Vlad: Ukraine.

Captor: Again!

Vlad: Glory to Ukraine!

Captor: Donetsk is what kind of country?

Vlad: Ukraine.

Captor: Donetsk is Ukraine!

Vlad: Donetsk is Ukraine!

Captor: Donetsk is Ukraine! Remember!

Vlad: Yes.

Captor: So that you never forget. Did  you understand me?

Vlad: Yes.

Captor: Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes! had the following to report (translation by The Interpreter):

According to Rossiya 24 TV, Vladislav filmed how Ukrainian armored vehicles shot at people in Mariupol on 9 May on his mobile phone.

The adolescent was seized on Wednesday, June 25 in Mariupol, then brought to Zaporozhye. As it was learned, the underage reporter was interrogated at the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] building, tortured, beaten, and threatened with death as [his captors] demanded he give the password to his Internet pages.

The journalist was released only after prolonged negotiations took place between the militiamen and [Ukrainian] silovoki [military], which took place on Friday, June 27. Then the youth was handed over to his mother in Zaporozhe.

There's a number of points that have to be made about this video, whose authenticity and claims we cannot verify or confirm.

o ANNA news is generally pro-separatist in its reporting; it specializes in news from Libya, Syria and Ukraine. reports that its YouTube channel was blocked by moderators for some of its footage with participation of the Center for the South Eastern Front for content in violation of the terms of service.

o This story has been reported by in Russia, which is no longer an independent web site; its independent editor was fired, pro-Kremlin management took over, and many of the journalists left. The video also been featured on state-run television.

o If any pro-Kiev or Ukrainian military forces were supposedly unhappy about Vlad's filming of clashes in Mariupol, why would they wait 7 weeks to detain him?

o In the video, Vlad is wearing a t-shirt with the emblem of the Donetsk People's Republic. It is not known if this was what he was wearing when he disappeared. But if captors were trying to "re-educate" him, they've overlooked this detail.

o The captor speaks Russian without a regional accent or Ukrainian accent.

o The pictures on the wall have one "Internet meme" in Russian, "This is my paradise," showing cars, and other pictures of cars and tanks, and nothing indicating any Ukrainian nationalist theme.

o The captor is wearing black, which is likely supposed to indicate that he is one of the "little black men" who fight "the little green men," i.e. from Right Sector or Svaboda [Freedom] or a similar paramilitary group. At one point another man enters the scene in camouflage. Neither are identified.

Given that separatists led by Col. Igor Strelkov have staged fake execution videos before, we can't be sure this isn't a fake kidnapping video, staged to make it appear that Ukrainian ultranationalists have seized a reporter whose footage they don't like.

On the other hand, Russian Federation journalists have indeed been seized and mistreated by Ukrainian military or Right Sector in the past, such as two journalists from the Russian Defense Ministry TV Zvezda. One of them was also shown on video with bruises on his face, supposedly confessing, but then he later retracted his statement and said he had been beaten and forced to confess.

A pro-separatist Twitter account has posted a picture purporting to identify the two men shown in the video from their social media pages. The pictures don't look exactly like them, so it's hard to make a positive identification.

Translation: Who beat the 16-year-old Vlad.

The man who comes on camera in camouflage briefly from the left is said to be Andriy Dzindzia in the tweeted picture.

In an action that tends to support the ANNA narrative, on his Facebook page, Dzindzia has indeed posted the video of Alexandrovich, with many malicious and gleeful comments by his friends and followers. Even so, there are also quite a few reproaches and condemnations for mistreating a minor.