Ukraine: Journalist Stanislav Aseev sentenced to 15 years and 2.5 years job ban

Stanislav Aseev, an Ukrainian journalist who has been held captive since June 2017 in Donetsk, has today given a 15-year sentence and a ban to practice journalism for 2.5 years by the “Supreme Court” of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in east Ukraine.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) was shocked by the decision and reiterated its call for the immediate release of Aseev. Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary, said: “The mistreatment of Aseev and now the harsh sentence are blatant violations of media freedom.

“The authorities must stop criminalising journalists and depriving their rights to exercise freedom of speech.”

Sergiy Tomilenko, a member of the EFJ Steering Committee and  President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), said: “15 years of imprisonment under the strict regime colony and the prohibition to engage in journalistic activities – these are undisguised, brutal repressions on the journalist who simply exercise his right to tell the truth from the occupied Donbass.

For its part, the Russian Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU) urged all official and public Russian organisations as well as civil society organisations to influence the decisions of the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk for the release of Stanislav Aseev.

Aseev was first reported missing in June 2017. He was then detained and given many trumped-up charges such as “organisation of extremest community”, “espionage”, etc. On August 17, 2018, an interview with Russia’s TV channel Russia 24 which featured Aseev, who was apparently forced to confess to committing espionage. 

The EFJ had reported his case to the Council of Europe Platform to protect the safety of journalists in 2017. Together with its members in Ukraine, NUJU and IMTUU, the EFJ has repeatedly called for the release of Aseev.