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IPI urges investigation into death of Russian photojournalist in Ukraine

People, including journalists, take part in a rally to support Russian photographer Andrei Stenin near the embassy of Ukraine in Moscow on August 26, 2014.

The International Press Institute (IPI) has called called for a full investigation into the fate of a Russian photojournalist whose death was confirmed on Wednesday nearly a month after he went missing in eastern Ukraine.

Andrei Stenin was covering the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine for Russian media outlet Rossiya Segodnya when he went missing on August 5. The director-general of Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov, said that tests on a body found in a burned vehicle near Donetsk confirmed that it was Stenin’s remains.

The circumstances surrounding Stenin’s fate were not immediately clear. In recent weeks, Russian journalists and international observers had mounted a campaign seeking his freedom, with some claiming that he was being held by Ukrainian forces. Authorities in Kiev, however, had denied the allegation. News reports indicated that the vehicle in which Stenin's remains were found appeared to have burned after coming under weapons fire.

“We are saddened to learn of Andrei Stenin’s death,” IPI Senior Press Freedom Advisor Steven M Ellis said. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. Given the many conflicting claims about his fate in recent weeks, we urge Ukrainian authorities to conduct – and pro-Russian militants to allow – a full and transparent investigation.”

Eastern Ukraine has become an increasingly dangerous region for journalists, according to IPI’s Death Watch, with at least three other journalists and two media workers having lost their lives this year while covering the conflict.

Ellis said that today that the ongoing violence was not only taking a toll in lives, but in the ability to accurately evaluate events in the region. “Truth has been one of the many casualties of this conflict,” he said. “Both Kiev and Moscow must ensure that all parties in eastern Ukraine refrain from targeting journalists or other civilians, and allow journalists to operate independently, and free from violence, harassment or intimidation.”

Date posted: September 4, 2014 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 11