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Journalist Stanyslav Aseyev sentenced to 15 years by separatists in eastern Ukraine (Demo)

This statement was originally published on on 22 October 2019.

The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the announcement by Russia-backed militants in eastern Ukraine that they intend to hold Stanyslav Aseyev, a reporter for the U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in a penal colony for 15 years, as reported by his employer.According to a report posted today by the Donetsk News Agency, a news website administered by supporters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, militants declared Aseyev “guilty of espionage, extremism, and public calls to violate the territory’s integrity” in August, but announced the decision only today. He was handed a sentence of 15 years in a penal colony, followed by a ban from working in journalism for two years and six months, according to that report.

“Stanyslav Aseyev is neither a spy nor extremist. He is a journalist who was providing a rare glimpse into the life of ordinary people in the area controlled by Russia-backed separatists,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “The so-called court that convicted Aseyev is not legitimate; he should be released immediately and allowed to return to the Kyiv-controlled area of Ukraine.”

Aseyev, who contributed to RFE/RL and various Ukrainian news outlets under the pseudonym Stanislav Vasin, went missing on June 2, 2017, as CPJ reported at the time. He was one of only a few independent Ukrainian journalists to remain in Donetsk after Russia-backed separatists seized control of the regional capital and declared their own “People’s Republic” in the spring of 2014, according to CPJ reporting.

In a statement today, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly condemned the announcement, adding, “[Aseyev] is a journalist and was only trying to raise awareness about the situation in eastern Ukraine. The ruling is an attempt by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk to silence his powerful, independent voice.”

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