Kirill Ponomarev, a reporter for The Moscow Times, has been detained in Russia’s Belgorod; the police suspect him of “espionage on behalf of Ukraine,” a local Telegram channel reports.
“This is not 100% certain, there were no comments from the PR office. He was detained after saying that he was a Ukrainian journalist,” says Ilya Kostykov of Belgorod’s Anti-war Committee.
The police officials report that Ponomarev was detained for misdemeanour and there are no grounds for a more serious accusation, as per Ostorozhno Novosti.
The Moscow Times have confirmed that Ponomarev had been detained while preparing a story on refugees residing in Sosnovka, a suburb of Belgorod. “He was working for us, he spoke to Russian and Ukrainian citizens there,” the media outlet says. The Moscow Times notes that Ponomarev managed to contact them and inform them of his detention. He hasn’t been in touch for 4 hours since then.
“A lawyer who came to Ponomarev’s rescue says Kirill is being questioned,” The Moscow Times says.
Yekaterina Seleznyova, the lawyer, says the police officers are currently proving Ponomarev’s identity; perhaps he will be soon released.