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Three years in a Russian isolation camp: the story of Stanislav Aseyev

Stanislav Aseyev is a Ukrainian writer, journalist and human rights activist, member of PEN Ukraine, founder of the Justice Initiative Fund. He was kidnapped on 11 May 2017 and held by the pro-Russian terrorist organisation 'DPR' until 29 December 2019.



He was born on 1 October 1989 in Donetsk.

In 2006, he graduated from a secondary school in Makiivka. In 2010, he graduated from the Donetsk State Institute of Informatics and Artificial Intelligence, Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and in 2012, he completed his master's degree at Donetsk National Technical University, Faculty of Computer Science and Technology, and received a master's degree in religious studies with honours.

After graduation, he went to France to join the French Foreign Legion. After returning to Ukraine, he changed many professions: he worked as a loader, a bank trainee, a grave digger, a postal operator, a sales assistant for household appliances, etc.

The war in eastern Ukraine

As a journalist, he worked for the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia newspaper, the Ukrainian Week magazine and Radio Liberty under the pseudonym Stanislav Vasin. According to Stanislav's classmate, former MP Yegor Firsov, Aseev considered it his journalistic duty to stay in Donetsk and objectively describe the events taking place: "Not everyone can know what is happening in the occupied Donbas, not everyone can describe the situation there. Stas could and did describe it."


The last time he got in touch with his colleagues was on 2 June 2017. His whereabouts were unknown, his apartment was searched, and Stanislav did not answer his calls. A month and a half later, on 16 July 2017, the militants reported that the blogger had been detained on charges of 'espionage'. It is reported with reference to ex-MP Yegor Firsov that "Stas's mother was given a written confirmation. ... Aseev's mother was able to see him. ... Stas is behaving well, he understands that he should not hope for a fair trial. His only hope is the exchange of prisoners."

Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe demanded that the militants release the journalist.

The media reported on Stanislav's protest hunger strike, which he began on 1 July 2018.

On 22 October 2019, the militants announced that the so-called 'DPR Prosecutor's Office' had sentenced Stanislav to 15 years in prison.

On 29 December 2019, he was released from captivity as part of the '76 for 127' exchange. Radio Liberty journalist Oleh Halaziuk (pseudonym Myroslav Tyamushchyi) was released along with him.

Political activity

After his release, Stanislav took an active social and political position, dealing with the rights of prisoners of illegal prisons in Russia and the occupied territories. On 29 January 2020, Aseev delivered a speech at the Council of Europe, where he asked the member states to put pressure on Russia to release the prisoners.

On 15 February 2020, the journalist spoke at the Munich Security Conference, where he described the inhuman treatment of prisoners by militants.

On 14 February 2020, Stanislav Aseyev met with a group of US senators at the Radio Liberty office in Prague and discussed the release of the remaining prisoners in the occupied Donbas.

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