MOSCOW – Moscow launched an investigation on Tuesday into the kidnapping of a Russian journalist who disappeared in eastern Ukraine last week, prompting international calls for his release.
Andrei Stenin was working in Ukraine as a photographer for Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency but has not been heard from since August 5, the Investigative Committee said in a statement. Authorities are "taking measures to find out the location of Andrei Stenin and people who have kidnapped him," it said.
Stenin is based in Moscow but has covered various conflicts, including in Libya and Syria, and worked extensively in eastern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian army is engaged in a conflict with pro-Russian insurgents that has left over 1,300 dead. The International Federation of Journalists expressed serious concern for the wellbeing of Stenin.
"He's a journalist, not a soldier, and as such is entitled to move freely and report the truth without the threat of intimidation, violence or detention," it said on Monday. Russia's Rossiya 24 news channel has put up a permanent image of Stenin in the corner of its screen with the hashtag #freeAndrew.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Stenin could be a victim of a malicious attack and demanded that Kiev puts in all effort to find and liberate him. Several journalists have been killed in eastern Ukraine in recent months and many more held captive by both Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants.