MOSCOW, August 26 /ITAR-TASS/. Crimean photojournalist Maxim Vasilenko who has been reported missing in eastern Ukraine also freelanced for the Rossiya Segodnya (formerly RIA Novosti) news agency, it said on Monday.
“Maxim Vasilenko is our freelance photographer in Ukraine,” the agency’s Photo Information Director Alexander Shtol said.
Vasilenko was working in eastern Ukraine together with his colleague Yevgeniya Koroleva. Both are journalists of the Crimean Telegraph newspaper and had been in the region for two weeks. They disappeared in the combat area around Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk at the end of last week. The only documents they had were most likely their journalist IDs.
“They are not there as journalists because they went there on a vacation. They sent in a story from Donetsk last week. But it was not their first report as they had travelled there three times before,” the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Maria Volkonskaya said.
She said contact with the journalists, Yevgeniya Koroleva and Maxim Vasilenko, had been lost on Sunday evening, August 24, when members of the nationalist Right Sector group had taken them off the bus by which they were returning home after several days in the combat area.
Yevgeniya was allowed to make one telephone call but she could not speak freely. “Judging from the way she talked, her every word was controlled and she could not name the roadblock where they had been detained. When asked if her life was threatened, she gave a negative answer, but confirmed that they had been detained not as ordinary residents of Crimea but as journalists,” the newspaper said.
The journalist said their cell phones could be taken away and they would be inaccessible for some time. “We only heard just one word ‘Dnepropetrovsk’ and can only guess what it meant - whether the bus was going towards Dnepropetrovsk or from it,” the newspaper said.
She said the newspaper was trying to determine the whereabouts of its journalists by contacting their friends and relatives in the region.
“We are trying to establish contact with people there. They are helping us for this is the first time we are having such situation on our hands. We are communicating with the official authorities through our acquaintances and trying to understand where they [the journalists] can be taken further,” she told ITAR-TASS.
There are several possible places where they could have been taken. “I have such information and we will be acting accordingly. If they were taken off the bus by Right Sector members, we know where they can be,” Volkonskaya said.