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Ukraine law enforcers continue questioning LifeNews journalists

May 22, 2014, 16:11 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
A demonstration in front of the Ukraine's embassy in Moscow

A demonstration in front of the Ukraine's embassy in Moscow

© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Rogulin

MOSCOW, May 22 /ITAR-TASS/ "Despite the OSCE’s calls and demands by Russia’s leaders and public organizations to free Russian LifeNews TV channel journalists, Ukrainian law-enforcers continue to detain and question them,” member of the Russian president’s human rights council Maksim Shevchenko said on Thursday.

Last week, journalists Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko were detained by Ukraine’s National Guard near the city of Kramatorsk, a major industrial and mechanical engineering centre in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.

Deputy Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Viktoria Syumar has accused them of instigating terrorism in the Donetsk region, claiming they were “members of terrorist groups".

“The Ukrainian TV channels are using lies and unverified information in a non-stop regime in their reports on the detained LifeNews reporters. But no one knows where the journalists are being kept and why neither lawyers nor OSCE mission representatives are allowed to visit them,” Shevchenko said.

“There are fears that both journalists or one of them is in a grave health condition,” he said.

“Under Ukrainian law, persons have to be either freed or deported, if no charges are brought against them within 72 hours after they are detained,” Shevchenko said.

“No civilized country in the world can allow itself to violate its own legislation. Ukraine is an exception in this sphere as well,” he added.

Shevchenko is participating in the negotiations on the release of journalists with human rights advocates, deputies of the Ukrainian parliament and representatives of the Crimean Tatar community as Marat Saichenko is a Tatar on his mother’s side.

“On my request, a Verkhovna Rada deputy got in touch over the phone with Ukraine Security Council Chairman Valentin Nalivaichenko and inquired about the progress in the investigation and where the journalists were being held,” Shevchenko said.

“The deputy received only a short answer from Nalivaichenko: ‘We’re questioning them.’ Who have ever seen anything like this that representatives of the press are questioned toughly like war criminals? To all appearances, Kiev is fighting not only with its own citizens but also with journalists,” Shevchenko said.

Members of Russia’s Public Chamber turned on Wednesday to the UN and the OSCE with a request to investigate the facts of war crimes in Ukraine, including the fact of illegally detaining LifeNews journalists.

How the journalists were detained

The Ukrainian military detained two LifeNews reporters on May 18. The Ukraine Security Council is trying to accuse them of their “complicity in terrorist activity” as the Ukrainian law-enforcers had allegedly found a man-portable surface-to-air missile system in the trunk of a car they had hired together with a Ukrainian driver.

The third person detained by the Ukrainian law-enforcers is the driver of the car who could be the owner of the antiaircraft missile system, if it was in the car at all.

At an OSCE May 22 meeting, Russia intends to raise the issue of the violation of journalists’ rights by the Ukrainian authorities. News is coming daily that the Kiev authorities are not allowing Russian journalists to cross the Ukrainian border.

This is taking place ahead of the Ukraine presidential elections scheduled for May 25 while the legitimacy of elections in the civilized world is ensured, among other things, by the presence of international observers and journalists.

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