WASHINGTON -- Two years since Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine confirmed they were holding Ukrainian blogger and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) contributor Stanislav Aseyev prisoner, RFE/RL is redoubling efforts to secure his release.
“Stanislav has been held virtually incommunicado for two years because of his unflinching reporting from his native Donetsk,” said RFE/RL Acting President Daisy Sindelar. “I know I speak on behalf of a growing number of rights advocates, government officials, lawmakers, and journalists in deploring his detention and demanding his freedom.”
Aseyev, who also wrote for the Ukrainian publications Mirror of the Week and The Ukrainian Week, began blogging for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service in 2014 under the pen name Stanislav Vasin, contributing dozens of posts about the effects of the conflict on daily life, schooling, politics, and culture until his detention in the summer of 2017. Separatists have reportedly accused him of espionage and threatened him with up to 14 years in custody, although RFE/RL has no knowledge of him being formally charged by any recognized authority of any crime.
In August 2017, the Ukrainian government included his name among those officially listed for a possible prisoner exchange under the supervision of the Trilateral Contact Group, which oversees negotiations among the sides to the conflict. The bipartisan U.S. Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus has condemned his detention, championing him as "one of the few independent journalists to remain in the region under separatist control to provide objective reporting." In November 2018, the U.S. Mission to the OSCE urged “the Russian Federation to secure the release of Stanislav Aseyev.” In recent weeks, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio and U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel have called for his freedom.
The One Free Press Coalition, a group of 33 prominent media organizations from around the world, recognized Aseyev this month among its “10 Most Urgent” cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.
Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich has added her voice to efforts on Aseyev’s behalf, writing, “It goes without saying, I am with you in your struggle on behalf of Stanislav Aseyev.”
RFE/RL has also urged the release of Ukrainian Service contributor Oleh Halaziuk, who has been held by Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk since August 2017. Crimean contributor Mykola Semena was convicted of separatism by a Russian court in 2017 and is banned from practicing journalism and leaving the peninsula.
RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, together with its subsidiary Donbas.Realities and Crimea.Realities regional units, averaged 5 million monthly visits to its website in 2018, and sets a standard in the Ukrainian media market for independence, innovation, and professionalism.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to 34 million people in 26 languages and 22 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 2.6 billion times on Facebook and YouTube in FY2018. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.