Vitaly Shevchenko and Andrei Bazavluk, journalists from Lita-M, a small television company in Kharkhiv, Ukraine, were reported missing by their colleagues in early September 1996. Fellow correspondents last saw the pair on August 11 in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, during heavy fighting between Russian federal troops and Chechen fighters who had seized control of the city on August 6. Shevchenko and Bazavluk had reportedly traveled from their native Ukraine to Chechnya to cover the conflict. A third journalist, Yelena Petrova, a senior executive of Lita-M, was also believed to be missing. She did not contact her studio after mid-August, according to a colleague.
A representative of the Kharkiv Committee for Human Rights Protection told CPJ in March 2003 that the Lita-M television company no longer exists, and that the three are still missing. He also said that Shevchenko and Bazavluk were members of the ultranationalist Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense party. Other sources reported that the three were representatives of civic organizations and were involved in humanitarian work, making it unclear whether they were in Chechnya working as journalists.