Ukraine must clarify status of Russian journalist

New York, August 12, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Ukrainian authorities to clarify the status of Andrei Stenin, the Russian photojournalist for the state news agency Rossiya Segodnya (previously RIA Novosti) who was reported missing on August 5 in eastern Ukraine. According to Russian news reports, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, said Stenin had likely been detained by Ukraine’s security service, or the SBU. Earlier, the SBU had denied holding Stenin. Gerashchenko also said that Stenin may be accused of “aiding and glorification of terrorism,” the reports said. A short time later, Gerashchenko told Rossiya Segodnya that his comments had been taken out of context and that he was unaware of Stenin’s whereabouts.

“We call on Ukrainian authorities to clarify the status of Andrei Stenin, who has been missing in the eastern part of the country for a week,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “If Ukrainian authorities are indeed holding the journalist, they should release him immediately and allow the media to cover events freely.”

Scores of Stenin’s colleagues gathered today to demand Stenin’s release. Press freedom conditions in Ukraine, especially in the volatile southeastern regions, have steadily deteriorated in recent months, with journalists being detained, attacked, abducted, and killed, according to CPJ research.