Recently the Kremlin has been manipulating the news from behind the scenes in places like Ukraine. This isn’t the first time Russia has tried to control the press. It’s quit a common occurrence. Back in 2018, Stanislav Aseyev a Ukrainian journalist who goes by the pen name Vasin, was captured by Ukrainian separatists that strongly support Russian interests. He was reporting on the situation of the war-torn state and interviewing the people who fought the separatists, highlighting their motivations and spirit. Outside of Donetsk, Ukraine, Aseyev was detained by separatists and in October was charged by a court established by the Russian backed separatists. The separatist court sentenced Aseyev to 15 years in a penal colony for espionage, extremism, and violations of the country’s integrity.
It is clear that Russia is helping the separatists in Ukraine in their efforts to target reporters, the voice of the people, from outside said country’s boundaries. Organizations and individuals like Reporters Without Borders, the US’s Press Freedom Caucus, or US Senator Marco Rubio have called for the release of Aseyev. All to no effect. Ukrainian separatists were able to charge a journalist for violating their country’s integrity. Wouldn’t separating from the national government be more harmful to the country’s integrity than a single journalist?
Freedom House Reports
Russia not only affects other sovereign states, they also heavily control their own media. The Freedom House report on media has stated multiple media infractions Russia has committed in the past year alone. There is video evidence of Russian officials making a deal with Austria’s Freedom Party colluding to purchase one of the largest Austrian newspapers. Russian authorities managed to block a messaging application called Telegram, after Telegram refused to give the Kremlin encryption keys. Freedom House states that only one out of four Russians in the entire population trust the media (half the United States population trusts the media). On their Global Press Freedom Index, Freedom House ranked the Ukraine as an average with a 2, and Russia with the worst score of 0.
The 2018 Freedom House characterizes Ukraine as partly free, in part because of corruption and threats against the media. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been on record saying he is “applying maximum efforts for his [Aseyev] return”. Freedom House places Russia in the not free category. The main reason for this topic is media control along with manipulation of elections.
With Public outcry for Stanislav Aseyev’s freedom, pressure is placed on the Ukrainian separatists and Russia to do the right thing and set Aseyev free.
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