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Masked Russians seized our gear: Norway journos

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Russian soldiers on March 4th 2014 in Perevalne, Crimea, Ukraine. Photo: Shutterstock
18:23 CET+01:00
Masked guards seized computers and storage devices from three Norwegian journalists on Tuesday and labelled them as spies as they attempted to leave the Crimean peninsula for mainland Ukraine.

The three experienced journalists from public broadcaster NRK said they were stopped at an improvised checkpoint manned by 15 to 20 armed men wearing black masks and unmarked uniforms. The surrounding area was occupied by a further 100 to 150 troops, they said.

“The mood was extremely aggressive,” one of the journalists, Jan Espen Kruse, told NRK’s website.

“They stood there with their masks and loaded weapons and accused us of being spies.”

The guards confiscated three PCs, all the material the team had filmed, memory sticks, a small camera, as well as bulletproof vests and helmets they had with them for their personal safety, he added.

Kruse said some of the guards wore the uniform of the disbanded Ukrainian Berkut riot police but added he had no doubts as to their Russian identity.

“The people manning these checkpoints are Russian soldiers without any kind of insignia; they’re doing whatever they like,” he said.

“The Russians deny that these are their forces but the checkpoints are fully equipped with armoured personnel carriers, lots of soldiers and trucks, and they have dug trenches in the terrain. There’s a major offensive underway here and there’s nobody but the Russians behind it.”

After 30 to 45 minutes, the guards let the Norwegians drive on in their car. After driving a few kilometres through no man’s land they arrived at a second roadblock manned by Ukrainian troops who allowed them to pass without incident. 

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Video: Vice News reporter and cameraman harassed at a Crimea checkpoint

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