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‘No Reaction’ By OSCE To Journalists’ Deaths In Ukraine

Maria Zakharova

Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

“Just two years ago there used to be no reaction whatsoever by the OSCE to similar cases [violence against and deaths of journalists in Ukraine critical of the current government]. We have been awaiting it, we have been insisting on it, we have been raising this issue to the organization.”

...assertion is demonstrably false

Zakharova’s assertion, delivered at an August 31 news briefing in Moscow in connection with the recent death in Kyiv of Russian journalist Aleksandr Shchetinin, is clearly contradicted by the public record.

As in the case of Shchetinin, a founder of the Novy Region online news agency who was found dead in his apartment in Kyiv on August 28, the OSCE has almost immediately issued statements denouncing and mourning the deaths of journalists in Ukraine in the time frame cited by Zakharova. Several of these cases involved the deaths of journalists with Russian state-owned media covering Kyiv’s war with Moscow-backed separatists in the east of the country that erupted in April 2014 after the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea territory the previous month.

For example, when Russian state TV journalist Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin were killed in a mortar strike in eastern Ukraine in June 2014, OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic issued a statement the same day.

She called Kornelyuk’s death (Voloshin at the time was reported missing) a “horrid reminder that not enough is being done to protect journalists who risk their lives reporting from conflict zones in Ukraine.” Mijatovic also called on authorities “to swiftly and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of this deadly attack and to hold those responsible accountable.”

The deadly incident ratcheted up animosity between Kyiv and Moscow after Russia captured Ukrainian airwoman Nadia Savchenko and subsequently convicted her of complicity in the journalists’ deaths.

Mijatovic issued comparably prompt and forceful statements following confirmation of the deaths of other journalists covering the war in Ukraine, including photographer Andrei Stenin of the Russian state media conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya.

She was also quick to denounce the slaying of Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzyna, who was shot and killed by assailants in his Kyiv apartment in April 2015. Within hours of his death, which Russian President Vladimir Putin the same day linked to Buzyna’s pro-Russian views, Mijatovic called the attack an “appalling act” and said there “must be no impunity for the perpetrators and the masterminds behind any violence against members of the media.”

While Zakharova welcomed the OSCE’s response to the death of Shchetinin as “finally” making the organization’s voice heard “rather fast” in such cases, Mijatovic actually reacted more rapidly -- on the same day -- to the deaths of Kornelyuk and Buzyna. Her statement on Shchetinin was published August 29, a day after his body was found in his Kyiv apartment in what police have called a suspected suicide.