Aseyev, 27, who writes under the pseudonym of Stanislav Vasin, was due to have sent a report to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 3 June but it never arrived and neither his colleagues nor his mother have been unable to locate him. His mother last spoke to him on 2 June.
Relatives who went to his apartment said it had been searched and his computer was missing. A formal investigation into his disappearance was opened on 8 June. His family and colleagues fear that he is being held and possibly tortured by members of the DPR’s “ministry of state security.”
“Stanislav Aseyev’s situation is extremely worrying,” RSF said. “We hold the DPR’s self-proclaimed authorities responsible for his fate and for his safety. And we urge all of the region’s political actors, including the international organizations that have a presence there, to help obtain his immediate release.”
Yehor Firsov, a former parliamentarian who is a friend of Aseyev’s, says he is being held by the pro-Russian separatists who control the Donetsk region. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has said it knows where he is but has not provided any further information.
As well as blogging about daily life in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, Aseyev works for several Ukrainian media such as Ukrainski Tijden, Ukrainska Pravda and Dzerkalo Tijnia. He uses a pseudonym because of the sensitive nature of what he covers and the fact that he works for independent media outlets.
As well as being lawless, the separatist-controlled, pro-Russian territories in eastern Ukraine are also in the process of becoming news and information “black holes” to which critical journalists and foreign observers are now rarely admitted.
Ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Ukraine continues to be the scene of an “information war” with Russia.