PEN America: Stanislav Aseyev’s Detention Approaches Two-Year Mark Amid Global Pleas For His Release

Published: 01.06.2019,  Views: 0

Since being detained by Russia-backed separatists in June of 2017, the Ukrainian blogger has been held incommunicado in the Donbas region.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK—The two-year anniversary of Ukrainian blogger Stanislav Aseyev’s detention on June 2 serves as a reminder of continued, alarming violations of press freedom in the conflict in Ukraine, and he should be released immediately, PEN America said in a statement today.Since being detained by Russia-backed separatists in June of 2017, Aseyev (who also writes under the pen-name Stanislav Vasin), has been held incommunicado in the Donbas region. His only communication during that time has been an interview on Russian television station Россия 24 (Russia 24), during which he confessed, likely under extreme duress, to the charges of espionage leveled against him. Aseyev is also believed to have begun a hunger strike in July of 2018 and is reportedly being held in poor conditions without access to medications. He has remained in detention despite numerous international calls for his release, including from the U.S. Congressional Freedom of the Press CaucusAmnesty International, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists, Reporters without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Aseyev, a contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and numerous Ukrainian media outlets, reported unwaveringly on life and the conflict in the Donetsk region before he went missing on June 2, 2017. Before his capture, he published an autobiographical novel in the Russian literary magazine, Yunost, entitled The Melchior Elephant or the Man Who Thought. In June 2018, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service published a collection of Aseyev’s reports, In Isolation: Posts from Donbas, which offers a glimpse at Aseyev’s talent and bravery while reporting on the conflict.

“Stanislav Aseyev’s continued detention confirms that the grave dangers facing journalists covering the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine have not ebbed, but in fact intensified,” said Polina Kovaleva, PEN America’s Eurasia Project Director. “It is vital that reporters be able to tell the truth of what is happening in Eastern Ukraine, and not be silenced. We continue to call for Aseyev’s immediate release and for the protection of the press and artists by both sides of the conflict.”

Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2014, at least 98 Ukrainians including journalists, writers and artists have been unjustly imprisoned in Russia and occupied Crimea. PEN America has been closely following and advocating on behalf of Aseyev, as well as others imprisoned in relation to the conflict, including Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, recipient of the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org

Source: PEN America