Ukrainian journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who writes under the pen-name Vasin, was captured by the Russian-supported rebels on June 2, 2017. Aseyev was based in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and reported for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as Ukrainian publications Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinskyi Tyzhden and Ukrayinska Pravda

Case BACKGROUND 

Born in Donetsk, Ukraine, Stanislav has worked as a journalist there since the separatist takeover in 2014, reporting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s project “Donbas. Realii,” as well as Ukrainian publications Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinskyi Tyzhden and Ukrayinska Pravda. He also had a Facebook blog with five thousand followers. Using pen-name Vasin to escape potential prosecution associated with writing for independent media outlets, Stansilav reported on daily life in the Donbas, describing everything from propaganda and military activities to food prices, culture, and entertainment.

Aseyev also describes the war in the Donbass in his novel, The Melchior Elephant or A man who thought, which was first published in Moscow in Yunost magazine (#1 — #6, 2015), and then in the Kayala Publishing House in Kyiv. Stanislav is also the author of Shestoy Den’ (The Sixth Day), an anthology of poems and short stories, and Anderhil’skiye Ved’my (The Underhill Witches), a play, both of which were written in Russian and published in Donetsk in 2011.

On June 2, 2017, Aseyev was reported missing after failing to file his latest blog post for RFE/RL. On June 16, Aseyev’s friend and former MP member Yehor Firsov, confirmed that the journalist was seized by Russian-backed separatists who threatened him with 14 years of prison on charges of espionage. Aseyev’s mother visited him in custody. According to Firsov, Aseyev’s health deteriorated significantly since his detention: he lost a lot of weight and was likely tortured. Firsov also notes that Aseyev has no access to medicine or international organizations which could report on his health. According to Stanislav’s relatives, the journalist’s apartment appears to have been searched and his computer was missing.

Case UPDATES

July 2018: As reported, separatists controlling the eastern city of Donetsk charged him of spying to provide his detention with a semblance of legality.

August 2, 2017: Fifty seven members of the human rights organization Svobodnoe Slovo including Svetlana Alexievich, Grigol Chkhartishvili (Boris Akunin), and Lyudmila Ulitskaya signed a petition calling for “publicity and justice” for Aseyev, whose arrest they consider “illegal” and “a violation of human rights and freedoms.”