BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian rebels 'kidnap' Ukrainian journalist: official

Members of the Free Syrian Army run through a street during clashes with pro-government soldiers in the city of Aleppo, October 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

KIEV: A Ukrainian journalist who worked for a Russian television crew and reportedly expressed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been kidnapped by rebels, the Ukrainian authorities said on Monday.

"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 interests."

Ankhar Kochneva, who was born in 1972, arrived in Damascus on September 22 to work as an interpreter for a Russian television crew, spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry Oleksandr Dykusarov told AFP.

"The Russian TV crew she worked for informed us that she had contacted them on October 12-13 and told them she was kidnapped on October 9 and was now being kept by rebels from the Free Syrian Army," Dykusarov said.

The woman was being kept in "satisfactory" conditions, he added, noting Ukrainian diplomats "will do their best" to win her release.

Russia's pro-government Izvestia daily reported that Kochneva, who speaks fluent Arabic, had publicly defended Assad's regime on Syrian television and received threats from the rebels before her abduction.

 

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