The OSCE representative for freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, has asked the Ukrainian Interior Ministry to free the Russian reporters detained near Kramatorsk, according to the OSCE press service as reported by Itar-Tass. In a letter to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, she expressed concern over the incident and asked authorities to release the reporters and thoroughly investigate what happened, the press service said in a statement.
LifeNews reporters, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, were detained by Ukrainian authorities near Kramatorsk. The last contact with the reporters was during the day of Sunday, May 18. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed that “persons who introduced themselves as reporters and Russian Federation citizens” were detained near Kramatorsk.
Earlier, Russia had demanded the immediate release of journalists from Russia’s LifeNews television channel. “We are concerned about the fact that reporters suffer during warfare carried out with the participation of combat forces, with the use of radicals and extremists, gunmen from the (radical) Right Sector movement and other groups,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it demanded Kiev stop its tendency to detain Russian reporters over unproven accusations and release them unconditionally.
“We are deeply concerned about this situation, we follow its development and assume that the de facto Kiev authorities should take steps to release reporters as quickly as possible and unconditionally. Those, who call themselves the authorities in Kiev should respect Ukraine’s international obligations, including those taken in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) framework, to ensure freedom of speech and mass media. All these rights are violated very seriously and trampled upon in the case of the Russian reporters’ capture and are preventing the work of journalists from other countries,” Russian Foreign Ministry Human Rights Ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov told Interfax.
“It is necessary to put an end to this tendency from the de facto Kiev authorities. Baseless accusations regarding our reporters are made with no grounds and no proof. This situation is unacceptable. So we are working [to resolve the situation] at foreign ministerial level,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asked OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter by phone urgently to use every OSCE means for the immediate liberation of Russian journalists detained by Ukrainian authorities in the Donetsk region. The OSCE chairperson-in-office assured Lavrov that he would do so rapidly, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry made similar demarches at the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna and the Kiev headquarters of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, Interfax reports.
The Russian Foreign Ministry will continue to insist on the soonest resolution of the Russian journalists’ situation.
Journalists from the Russian television station, LifeNews, were detained by Ukrainian military servicemen in Kramatorsk in the evening of May 18.