(Updates with release of journalists)
KIEV, March 11 Three journalists detained by
pro-Russian forces in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, now under the
control of the Russian military, were released on Tuesday,
Ukrainian police sources said.
The three women journalists were detained on the peninsula
by members of Russian Unity, a political party which favours the
union of Crimea with Russia, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had
earlier said on his Facebook page.
The Ukrainian police sources said interior ministry
officials had been in contact with the journalists' driver and
they were now safe and in a Ukrainian district outside Crimea.
The three journalists - Kateryna Butko, Alexandra
Ryazantseva and Olena Maksymenko - were detained at a checkpoint
manned by Russian Unity and later taken to the port city of
Sevastopol, ministry sources said. Also freed was their driver
and a photographer.
The journalists were the subject of a statement by the
Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday that
also expressed alarm at what it described as a "steady
escalation in violations of journalists' rights in Crimea".
Tension in the Black Sea peninsula has been growing since
pro-Russian separatists took control of the regional parliament,
declaring Crimea part of the Russian Federation and announcing a
referendum for March 16 to confirm this.
(Reporting by Richard Balmforth and Ron Popeski, editing by