KIEV, August 8 (RIA Novosti) – A spokesman for the Zaporizhia region office of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on Friday denied reports that it had detained Rossiya Segodnya photographer Andrei Stenin, who went missing in Ukraine earlier this week.
“We don’t have this person, I checked it,” the spokesman said. “I have no idea where this information came from.”
An informed source told RIA Novosti earlier in the day that Stenin, who went missing in eastern Ukraine on August 5, is currently being held by the SBU in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia.
The OSCE press freedom watchdog said it was looking into the reports. Its mission in Ukraine has long been monitoring the deteriorating media environment situation and journalists’ safety in the region. It has registered over a dozen of media freedom violations since the conflict broke out in mid-April.
Stenin’s abduction is not the first incident of mass-media workers coming into harm’s way in Ukraine. Back in June, a cameraman for Russia’s Channel-1 TV station was fatally wounded in the stomach. Prior to that, a reporter and a sound engineer from Russia’s VGTRK media holding were killed in a mortar attack near Luhansk.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring, when the Ukrainian government launched a military operation against independence supporters, who refused to acknowledge the authorities instated after the February 22 coup.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s actions, urging it to stop the “punitive” operation and advocating a peaceful resolution to the crisis.