Russian journalist Valery Donskoy died on Oct. 10, 2014 in a hospital in Lyubertsy, outside Moscow, of double pneumonia that was reportedly attributable to time he spent in captivity in cold temperatures near the border between Russia and Ukraine.
Donskoy served as a correspondent for Electron-FM in Krymsk, Russia, where he reported extensively on the after-effects of disastrous 2012 flash floods in the region. He lost his job the following year, reportedly due to government pressure. Donskoy moved to Moscow and in early 2014 travelled to Kiev to report for a French news agency on developments related to the EuroMaidan protests that ultimately ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovych.
The Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF) and the Novaya Gazeta reported that Donskoy travelled to Ukraine again in September 2014 as a freelance correspondent and that colleagues soon received an SMS indicating that he had been captured.
According to GDF, the Yabloko party on Sept. 29, 2014 published on its website a message from Donskoy that read: “Five days ago we were taken prisoner near the border. They kept us in an awfully cold metal barrack. I froze like a dog for three days and prayed to God to survive. When they released us, we rushed to Moscow, where I was taken to hospital with double pneumonia and spent 24 hours in a resuscitation ward. That’s what it looks like, a reporter’s work.”
A colleague from Krymsk, citing Donskoy’s poor condition when hospitalised, told GDF that friends and colleagues had refrained from questioning Donskoy about the circumstances of his capture, hoping to be able to do so upon his recovery. As of Dec. 16, 2014, details about Donskoy’s captivity remained unknown.