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‘Terrorist tactics’: Russian journalist accused of treason marks his 100th day in Ukrainian jail

‘Terrorist tactics’: Russian journalist accused of treason marks his 100th day in Ukrainian jail
The head of RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency, Kirill Vyshinsky, has spent 100 days in detention for alleged ‘high treason.’ The deplorable ‘anniversary’ triggered the renewal of a worldwide campaign calling on Kiev to release him.

The journalist was detained by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) on May 15 and has remained in jail since then. Ukrainian authorities accuse Vyshinsky of supporting the self-proclaimed rebel republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, which, they believe, amounts to “high treason.”

The arrest prompted widespread criticism from international human rights and journalist groups, many of whom argued that Vyshinsky was targeted only for doing his job. The 100-day anniversary of his incarceration has triggered a new wave of criticism.

The Vyshinsky case is yet another “shameful” attack on press freedom undertaken by Kiev, a journalist with Turkey’s Ulusal Kanal, Yakub Aslan, said. “Undoubtedly, this action of the Ukrainian authorities directly targets the rights of the people to get truthful information,” Aslan told RIA Novosti.

“No journalist cannot and should not be detained for his professional work,” Selim Akduman, a journalist wit Turkey’s TV5 channel, said.

The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) condemned the ongoing detention of Vyshinsky, urging the Ukrainian authorities to release him immediately. The journalist has fallen victim to an “absurdity,” when being a member of a Russian media outlet amounts to treason, RUJ spokesman Timur Shafir said, adding that the union sees him as a “true prisoner of conscience.”  The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) shares a similar stance, maintaining that the Vyshinsky case amounts to an open violation of journalist rights. The “global community” will continue to condemn the “perpetrator country” until the journalist walks free, EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez told Sputnik on Thursday.

Kiev’s actions –and especially their frequently floated idea to exchange Vyshinsky for selected Ukrainian nationals jailed in Russia– closely resemble terrorist tactics, the deputy spokesman for Russian State Duma Petr Tolstoy has said. “All these days, Vyshinsky has been essentially held hostage by Kiev terrorists who by chance came to power: How else can you call those who grab and hold people, waging a war of annihilation against their own citizens who disagree with their politics and ideology?” Tolstoy wondered.

The Russian Foreign Ministry weighed in on the Vyshinsky case as well, calling it a part of the ongoing campaign against Russian journalists in Ukraine. “There are no reasons to believe that the situation will improve,” and Kiev will actually stick to its international obligations on maintaining the freedom of the press, the ministry said in a statement.

“The rights of the Russian journalist are violated as well, as the authorities forbid him from meeting Russian consular workers, referring to his Ukrainian citizenship, which he holds in addition to his Russian one,” the statement reads. Vyshinsky has previously called, in the court, upon President Petro Poroshenko to revoke his Ukrainian citizenship, yet his request was denied.

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