MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – A petition calling for the disclosure of information about the fate of a Rossiya Segodnya journalist who went missing in Ukraine, or to conduct an investigation into his disappearance has already garnered 1,300 signatures, the initiator of the petition, Olesya Emelyanova, told RIA Novosti.
"I made it out of desperation, watching colleagues stay silent. No one responded, and I wanted to support Andrei in this difficult situation so much, because I know how hard it is for war correspondents during the conflict. I wanted to somehow motivate my colleagues to unite," Emelyanova said.
Emelyanova hopes that many colleagues of the missing photojournalist will unite and support him. The petition is available on www.change.org, and over 1,400 people have already signed it.
"We are asking for the official disclosure of information about the fate of our colleague, Andrei Stenin, and if no information is available – to conduct an investigation into his disappearance," according to the text of the petition, which is addressed to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.
The petition states that "the Russian journalistic community knows Andrei Stenin as an honest journalist, a professional who has worked in many hot zones, including in Kiev during the [Euro]maidan riots."
"We hope the Ukrainian government will adhere to international standards in relation to military reporters, and will not make them responsible for the events they only record to the best of their abilities," according to the petition.
Since August 5, colleagues have been unable to reach Stenin, who had been working in eastern Ukraine. Sources reported that the photographer had been detained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Zaporizhia Region in southern Ukraine, a claim later denied by Kiev.
On August 9, Rossiya Segodnya filed a request with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry to take immediate action to locate the photographer. The request was entered into the register of pre-trial investigations on August 11.
A day later, Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to the Ukrainian interior minister, said in an interview with Baltkom radio that Stenin had been arrested by the SBU on charges of assisting terrorists.
Later Gerashchenko claimed he was misinterpreted, saying he only assumed the photographer had been detained but knew no precise information. Baltkom said it had a recording of Gerashchenko’s interview and provided it to Rossiya Segodnya.
Russia has already filed two diplomatic notes to Ukraine over Stenin’s case urging Kiev to comment on Herashchenko’s statement.
On August 15, Russia’s human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova said her Ukrainian counterpart Valeriya Lutkovska had formally requested Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies help locate the missing Rossiya Segodnya photographer, but so far to no avail.
On August 18, the National Press Club raised concern over the safety of the Russian photographer and urged all parties in the ongoing conflict to respect the essential right of journalists to go about their work without harassment and without fearing for their safety.