Separatist authorities in Donetsk said in a November 25 statement that they had "deported" Dozhd journalists Sergei Yerzhenkov and Vasily Polonsky. The announcement came after the TV channel said it had lost contact with the two men, RFE/RL reported.

The statement accused the journalists of conducting "illegal journalistic activity" in areas of Donetsk controlled by the separatists, who have been fighting a bloody war with Ukrainian forces that has killed more than 9,600 since April 2014.

Dozhd is known for its critical coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has denied accusations by Kyiv, NATO, and the EU that the Kremlin is backing the separatists despite substantial evidence of such support.

Read alsoWarlords in Donbas turned to ‘smuggling kingpins' – media probeThe channel also provides a regular platform for opponents of the Russian government.

Dozhd said it lost contact with the journalists on November 25 after Polonsky reported that he had been detained by separatist authorities.

It added that the two men had received permission to report from the region both from the separatists and the Ukrainian government.