WASHINGTON, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - The total of five media workers have been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the year, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk Johann Bihr told RIA Novosti.
"The number of media workers killed in Ukraine in connection with their work since the start of the year has reached five," Bihr said.
The number includes two reporters, one photo-journalist, one fixer and one media technician.
On Tuesday, two employees of Russia's state-run VGTRK media holding were killed as a result of a mortar attack near Ukrainian city of Luhansk. Anton Voloshin, a sound engineer, was killed by a direct hit of a mortar round, while reporter Igor Kornelyuk was fatally wounded and died in a local hospital.
The prime-minister of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk Vasiliy Nikitin said that adjusted fire was carried out by Ukraine's National Guard. Victor Denisov, a cameraman who was with the deceased during the attack, reported that all of them were wearing press badges.
Russian Foreign Ministry demanded to immediately punish those responsible for the death of the reporters. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday ordered a thorough investigation of an attack against two journalists, the presidential press service said. Russia's Investigative Committee launched its own criminal inquiry into the deadly attack on VGTRK reporters.
Johann Bihr called on the Ukrainian authorities to stop preventing Russian journalists from doing their job.
"We also call on the Ukrainian authorities to bear the responsibility and respect the work of journalists, to stop hindering their movement across the country, and to stop detaining those who are not accredited with the Kiev government - this is not the reason for an arrest," Bihr said, adding that the world needs trustworthy information about the events unfolding in Ukraine.
Bihr has also called on all "anti-Kiev groups" to respect both foreign and local reporters and to stop hampering in the journalistic activities of reporters on the ground.
"We have already lost count of hostage taking by anti-Kiev groups. The number has reached several dozens already," Bihr said.
In the recent months, there have been several cases when the independence supporters first detained and then released media workers.
Last month Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his fixer and Russian human rights defender Andrei Mironov were killed by a mortar shell near the city of Slaviansk in the Donetsk region. In February, Ukrainian newspaper reporter Vyacheslav Veremiy was gunned down in Kiev while covering Maidan protests.
According to the Reporters Without Borders, over 200 journalists have been injured or attacked in Ukraine since the start of the year.