OSCE representative calls for release of journalist abducted by separatists, denounces new cases of grave media freedom violations in Eastern Ukraine
VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the abduction of freelance journalist Anton Skiba in Donetsk and called for his immediate release.
Skiba was abducted on 22 July by armed separatists at a hotel in Donetsk. He had been assisting a CNN film crew. His current whereabouts are unknown.
“I strongly condemn this incident. Journalists must not become targets just for fulfilling their professional duties,” Mijatović said. “I call on those responsible to immediately release Skiba.”
Mijatović also expressed concern about other recent cases of media intimidation by the separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine:
- 19 July – the brief detention, confinement and harassment of 10 foreign journalists in Donetsk including representatives of Dagens Nyheter, BBC, The Daily Beast, Nieuwsuur, Time and Russia Today. The journalists were attempting to report on the Malaysia Airlines plane crash;
- 15 July – an attack on Natalia Filatova, a journalist with the Novosti Donbassa news portal. The journalist sustained minor injuries;
- 6 July – the abduction of journalist Darya Shatalova and an attack on and abduction of editor Sergei Sakadynskiy, both with Politika 2.0 news portal in Luhansk. The same day an armed group robbed the news portal’s office, stealing all the equipment. Both journalists were released the next day.
“This hostile practice of obstructing the work of journalists and media outlets cannot be tolerated and has to immediately stop. I sincerely hope that there will be an opportunity for law enforcement officials to investigate this continuing violence against media representatives in Eastern Ukraine and arrest the perpetrators to put an end to the climate of impunity,” Mijatović said.
The Representative said she was worried about plans voiced on 21 July by the self-proclaimed defence minister of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ to effectively ban all media representatives from working in the conflict zone and the territories adjacent to the military compounds.
She also noted reports that on 15 July the self-proclaimed authorities of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ announced the switching off of all Ukrainian television channels in Donetsk.
“Access to information and safety of media workers need to be ensured at all times by all, and those in control of the situation have a full responsibility for this,” Mijatović added.