This is what it’s like to get kidnapped in Ukraine
I make my way to the central Sloviansk barricade area, start filming and almost immediately heavily armed men are running toward me. I’m shoved, my camera and phone are removed, and before I know quite what’s happening, I’m being marched at gunpoint into a nearby car. My captors shout, “He’s a spy,” to concerned passersby, who then nod and look away.
In the car, the older of my two captors, wearing a full-face balaclava but clearly a thick set man perhaps in his late 30s, points a Kalashnikov at me. It soon becomes clear that being a spy is only part of my problem. He yells at me several times that I’m a “narcoman” (drug addict). We arrive at a local hospital, where my captor declares he has “captured a spy and drug addict.” I try to insist that I’m an English journalist, but he barks me down with, in Russian, “Those who want to live keep quiet.”
Entering the hospital, any hope I might have of arriving in a safe place is shattered as the doctors and nurses immediately defer to my captors and will not meet my gaze. I’m sat down, and it becomes clear that I am about to be given a drug test.
I’ve no idea why my captors think I’m an addict, my sum experience of drugs—apart from a university dabble—being a few joints in Amsterdam many years ago. The older captor tells me that if I fail the drug test, “You will be shot.” The younger captor is playing the good cop, but even he informs me that “in the Donetsk Republic, drug addicts are shot.”
So I give a urine sample and put my life in the hands of a Ukrainian drug test. MORE