A Ukrainian journalist who had been reported missing and suspected of being kidnapped in Syria, is reported to have contacted her relatives on Sunday, saying that she is doing fine and asking them not to contact her.
Anhar Kochneva had gone missing around 20 km from the city of Homs on October 9. Reports suggest that Kochneva was kidnapped by rebels from the Free Syrian Army as she is seen as a strong supporter of the Assad regime.
She sent a text message to her ex- husband Dmitry Petrov on Sunday saying: “I hope for the best. Don’t message me.” She is also reported to have sent a message to her friend in which she wrote that she had been kidnapped, according to Russia’s pro-government Izvestia newspaper.
Kochneva, who speaks Arabic fluently, has regularly filed stories for several Russian media outlets since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. The ex-deputy of the Russian State Duma, Daria Mitina, who is also a popular Russian blogger, reported that Kochneva may have been abducted near the town of Al-Qusayr by the Syria-Lebanon border.
"A journalist, a Ukranian national who worked for Russian television channels, has gone missing in Syria," President Viktor Yanukovych said in a statement. "I have ordered to investigate all the circumstances around this incident and to protect the Ukrainian citizen's rights and interest."
The woman was being kept in "satisfactory" conditions, noted spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry Oleksandr Dykusarov, adding that Ukrainian diplomats "will do their best" to secure her release.
Last week, Kochneva was in the city of Tartus to address residents and was supposed to travel back to Damascus but instead went to Homs to file a report, Mitina said to Russia Today (RT).
Many local and foreign journalists throughout Syria have been targeted during the ongoing Syrian revolution. The death toll of reporters and citizen journalists killed in Syria since the beginning of the regime's campaign to flush out anti-government protests has jumped to 72, according to the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF).
Source: DCMF, Agencies