Published time: May 18, 2014 19:26
Edited time: May 18, 2014 20:51
Russia strongly condemns the detention of LifeNews journalists Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko by Kiev forces in the city of Kramatorsk, the country’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, said.
“I immediately contacted the Swiss representative to the OSCE (Switzerland is presiding over the organization in 2014) and the representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, and requested them to take immediate steps for the release of the journalists,” Kelin told Itar-Tass news agency.
Earlier, Kiev acknowledged that Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko were detained by the Ukrainian military.
The last time the crew established contact with the editorial board was at around 09:50 GMT (13:50 Moscow time) on Sunday, when they reached a checkpoint near the town of Kramatorsk.
Several hours later a photo of the handcuffed journalists appeared on social networks.
Locals recognized the place in the photo as territory belonging to the military airport near Kramatorsk, LifeNews reported.
News Media Holding, which owns LifeNews, has appealed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, asking him to help with the release of the journalists, the news outlet’s website reported.
Reporter Sidyakin and cameraman Saichenko were performing their professional duties, covering events in southeastern Ukraine, when they “went missing,” the channel said in a statement.
The only thing Sidyakin managed to text was that “things look bad.”
After receiving the SMS message, the office immediately called Sidyakin, who accepted the call, but could not speak. He kept the phone connected, however, so that Moscow could hear that the journalists were being interrogated.
Since the connection was lost, all attempts to get in touch with the crew have been in vain.
A man who accompanied the LifeNews crew confirmed that the journalists were being questioned by armed men, presumably the Ukrainian military.
The same LifeNews journalists came under fire from Kiev’s army last week, along with RT’s video agency crew.
Sidyakin used to report for LifeNews within Russia. He covered the Volgograd terrorist acts last December. He was then sent to Ukraine to cover the political crisis in the country. He also reported from Crimea during the process of reunification with Russia.
While working in Kiev during the clashes, Sidyakin sustained a gunshot wound in the leg but never stopped his live broadcast.
Saicheko is a prominent photographer and cameraman who used to work in Libya and Syria. In the West, he is primarily known as the first person who managed to take photos of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky while he was in prison.