Appeal to Médecins Sans Frontières over Donetsk hostage
Serhiy Garmash, Editor of the Donetsk Internet publication OstroV has asked Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] to intercede on behalf of Alexander [Sasha] Chernov, an OstroV freelance journalist, blogger and anaesthetist taken hostage by Kremlin-backed militants.
Chernov was abducted just over a week ago in Yenakyevo [Donetsk oblast] and taken to Slovyansk. His colleagues have learned that he has been sent before a ‘military tribunal’ by Igor Strelkov – the nom de guerre for Igor Girkin, the Russian national identified by US officials as working for Russia’s GRU military intelligence service who calls himself the defence minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He is accused not of critical comments in his blogs, but of not having given assistance to a wounded female militant
Garmish notes that they have found no proof for these assertions and points out that the police have not recorded any cases where women sustained gunshot wounds over the last month.
Garnish is therefore asking the Ukrainian office of Médecins Sans Frontières for help. He explains that Alexander Chernov was, as mentioned above, abducted on June 25 and that according to Strelkov, he was passed to a ‘military tribunal’ on June 28. Despite his openly patriotic views, Chernov is accused of having refused, as an anaesthetist, to provide assistance to a woman from Kramatorsk brought in wounded. They allege that he refused saying that he “wouldn’t help separatists”.
There has been no contact at all with Alexander since June 27.
OstroV’s investigation, such as it can be in the present circumstances, suggests that Chernov did not refuse to give the woman assistance, but was simply displeased that she had been brought to Yenakievo, not Donetsk, since her treatment required third level medical care. Despite what Strelkov says, the woman did not have gunshot wounds, but had been diagnosed as having peritonitis and with something having gone septic.
OstroV also stresses that there would be no possibility in present circumstances to carry out an objective investigation if only because the witnesses are in Yenakievo while Slovyansk is in the area of military action.
Since Strelkov [Girkin] is claiming that the charges against Chernov are medical, not political, OstroV asks MSF to take an interest in the fate of their colleague and look into whether the charges are justified and lawful. They ask the international organization to carry out their own investigation and note that they are aware of many cases over the last months when political accusations and the ensuing repression have been used as a means of reprisal against colleagues, competitors, even neighbours and relatives who disagree with them. The woman involved in this case is the wife of one of the leaders of the DPR, and they believe the charges to the militants’ way of revenging themselves against Chernov.