MOSCOW, August 12 (RIA Novosti) — The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case over the detention of Russian photographer Andrei Stenin in eastern Ukraine, investigative spokesman Vladimir Markin said Tuesday.
“Andrei Stenin was on assignment in Ukraine from May 13 and was fulfilling his journalistic duties, working in Kiev, Luhansk, Donetsk, Mariupol, Shakhtersk, Slaviansk and other cities. The last time material was received from him was August 5, after which the journalist no longer was in contact with [the editorial staff in Moscow]," Markin said.
A criminal case on kidnapping has been launched, he said.
"Investigators plan to immediately send a request to the competent organs in Ukraine for legal aid in explaining the conditions of Andrei Stenin’s disappearance within the criminal case [of kidnapping] in compliance with the norms of Russian criminal law," Markin said.
The Russian investigators are looking into information regarding the involvement of Ukraine’s National Guard or military.
"Investigators are taking measures to establish Andrei Stenin’s whereabouts and those who committed his kidnapping. The involvement of Ukraine’s National Guard and military structures on the Russian journalist’s detention is being checked," Markin said.
The Rossiya Segodnya journalist went missing when reporting on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. An unnamed source told RIA Novosti that the photojournalist had been abducted by Ukrainian militia and was in the custody of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) in the city of Zaporozhye. The SBU later denied this allegation.
On August 9, Rossiya Segodnya submitted a request request to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry to take urgent measures to find Stenin. Under the pressure of an OSCE media freedom representative, the ministry responded three days later saying it was looking into Stenin’s case.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the immediate release of Stenin and said that press freedom in Ukraine, especially in its volatile southeastern regions, has steadily deteriorated in recent months, with journalists being detained, attacked, abducted and killed.
Stenin’s abduction is not the first incident with mass-media representatives in Ukraine. In June, a cameraman for Russia’s Channel-1 television was fatally wounded in the stomach. Prior to that, a reporter and a sound engineer from Russia’s VGTRK media holding were killed in a mortar attack near Luhansk.
Please support Andrei Stenin’s release by sharing the hashtag #FreeAndrew in social networks. Andrei is a professional war photographer reporting from the most dangerous war zones in the world. You can view Andrei’s pictures from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya <here> and his most recent shots from eastern Ukraine <here>.