Ukrainian Journalist Stanyslav Aseev Missing in Donbass

Update: 06 Jan 2020 Resolved
Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Ukraine Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Ukraine Detention and imprisonment of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Level 1
Alert concerning the non-Government controlled areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regionsAlerte concernant les zones non contrôlées par le gouvernement dans les régions de Louhansk et de Donetsk

Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev went missing in the Donbass region on 3 June 2017. Since then, the journalist has not been answering phone calls, his apartment in Donetsk has been ransacked and his professional laptop has gone missing, his family and friends told the media. They fear the journalist has been detained by representatives of the so called “Ministry of State Security” of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic". Reports said that Aseev went missing on the day he was expected to send material to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which showed life in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and never arrived. Aseev has been working under the pen name of Stanyslav Vasin since 2014 and has been reporting from Donetsk for Radio Svoboda, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinska Pravda and Ukrainian Week. On 20 June, representatives from the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) expressed their deep concern for the safety and fate of Stanyslav Aseev and called for his immediate release.

Resolved On 6 January 2020, following the release of Stanyslav Aseev, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

30 Dec 2019 : On 29 December 2019, Stanislav Aseev was released as part of a prisoners exchange.
22 Oct 2019 : In August 2019, Stanislav Aseev was found guilty of "organising the extremist community", "espionage and incitement to espionage", "public calls for the exercise of extremist activity" and "public calls for actions aimed at violating territorial integrity" by the so-called Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic", and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was also deprived of his right to engage in journalistic activities for 2.5 years. He is thought to serve his sentence in a penal colony.
22 Aug 2018 : On 17 August 2018, Russian television channel Rossiya 24 has aired an interview with kidnapped journalist Stanislav Aseev, in which he confesses to working for Ukrainian intelligence in Donbass. The interview has raised concerns that Aseev, who has been illegally detained in Donetsk for over a year, was coerced into confessing to false espionage charges.
19 Jul 2017 : On 15 July 2017, it was reported to independent broadcaster Hromadske Radio that Aseev has been detained by separatists. Yegor Firsov, a friend of Aseev and a former Ukrainian lawmaker, stated that the separatists have charged the journalist with espionage and that, if convicted, Aseev could be jailed for up to 14 years.

State replies

16 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

25 Oct 2019 : OSCE Representative Désir strongly condemns jailing of Donetsk journalist Aseev, reiterates call for immediate release.
24 Aug 2018 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative reiterates call for release of Stanislav Aseev following journalists’ first public appearance since being detained
06 Jun 2018 : OSCE Representative calls for immediate release of Donetsk journalist Stanislav Aseev one year after his illegal detention
28 Jul 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls for immediate release of detained Donetsk journalist Stanislav Aseev.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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