Pro-Russian militants urged to release journalist Maria Varfolomeyeva

Дата: 21 January 2016
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International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) urge to release Ukrainian journalist Maria Varfolomeyeva, who has been held captive by pro-Russian militants in Luhansk for more than a year.

This is reported by the press service of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine.

The journalist, who worked for Free Reporter local news website and various national media, has been held in captivity in Luhansk since January 9, 2015. She was detained while she was taking photos of a residential building in Luhansk. The so-called “LPR” accuses her of spying for the Ukrainian nationalist movement (Right Sector) and threatens her with 15 years in prison.

International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists, which represents about 600,000 journalists around the world, are calling for the immediate release of Maria Varfolomeyeva.

“It’s absolutely illegal when the parties to the conflict held captive a journalist who worked as a military reporter,” said President of the IFJ Jim Boumelha. “The accusations of spying look like a mere attempt to intimidate the journalists who are just trying to cover the conflict. We appeal to the international organizations to urge representatives of the breakaway ‘LPR’ to immediately release the journalist.”

“The intimidation and detention of journalists in eastern Ukraine are unacceptable. The EFJ considers unacceptable preventing journalists from performing their professional duties. We call for the immediate release of all the detained media workers in the region,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.

According to the statement, both Federations will present the case of Maria Varfolomeyeva at the platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists of the Council of Europe.

Earlier, the IFJ and the EFJ, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine and the Union of Journalists of Russia called on the militants of the so-called “LPR” to respect the protocol 1 of Article 79 of the Geneva Convention, recalling that journalists are not part of the armed forces in the conflict and they must be protected as civilians.

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