UK journalist for Russian TV says Ukraine deported him
Graham Phillips was freelancing for RT when he was allegedly detained by Ukraine’s security forces then deported
A British reporter for Russia's RT television in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine said on Saturday that Kiev had deported and banned him from the country for three years.
Graham Phillips, a journalist who was freelancing for Kremlin-backed RT, wrote on Twitter that he is in Poland and had been deported after Ukrainian forces detained him in Donetsk last week.
"I'm free, ok, deported from Ukraine, banned for 3 years, because 'I work for RT'" Phillips wrote. "I am in Poland now."
It was not possible to independently verify Phillips' claims and Ukraine's security services said last week they had no word on his whereabouts.
RT, previously Russia Today, was founded by the Kremlin to promote the Russian point of view on world affairs to an international audience.
Phillips' detention along with the abduction by pro-Russian rebels of a Ukrainian journalist working for CNN prompted Reporters without Borders last week to say that "arbitrary arrests and disappearances of journalists are on the rise again in eastern Ukraine".
U.S. channel CNN said Thursday that its Ukrainian fixer Anton Skiba had been detained Tuesday in Donetsk by separatist rebels who later accused him of being a "Ukrainian agent."
Phillips confirmed earlier reports that he had been detained while trying to cover fighting near Donetsk airport along with a journalist from Anna-news, a news agency based in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.
He told RT that a soldier put a gun to his head and told him that "if my details didn't check out, he would not guarantee that I was going to live".
He said he was wearing a bullet-proof vest marked "Press."
Ukrainian forces did not harm him but beat up the Anna-news journalist, Vadim Aksyonov, Phillips said.
"I wasn't beaten, Vadim was severely beaten," he said.
He said Ukrainian forces questioned him on the activities of the rebels and held him in a room next to an artillery position that was being shot at.
Phillips posted a video on YouTube of what he said was a sound recording of his interrogation by a Ukrainian soldier who said at one point: "We don't know who you are."
He also posted a video that he said showed him being led through Donetsk's dark and abandoned airport.
Phillips said that Ukrainian forces had deleted all the files on his computer and taken his car and flak jacket. His social networking accounts on Facebook and Russia's VKontakte had been hacked, he added.