Russian forensics experts confirmed last week that human remains found in a burnt-out car near Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine were those of 33 year old Russian photographer Andrei Stenin. Despite last week's conclusive forensic report, speculation around his death still remains.
Alexander Shtol is Director of Photography at the agency Stenin worked for in Moscow, and describes him as a “highly developed photographer who was very deep for his age.”
He recalls when Stenin's enthusiasm to cover the world's hotspots began. “Two years ago he covered the demonstrations in Egypt," he says. "After that, he asked me if he could be an exclusive photographer for the hotspots around the world. I said a definite no. He would have to stick to stories of children and animals.”
But Stenin's enthusiasm eventually prevailed. In May 2014 he travelled to Sloviansk where he took “very, very good pictures,” according Shtol. But when the frontline moved into Sloviansk, Stenin and other journalists journeyed to Donetsk.
Shtol implored him to leave Ukraine in July, but Stenin wanted to stay in Ukraine as long as it took to capture the whole story. “What bothered him more than anything else was the end of the story, but the story ended differently for him," says Shtol.
Stenin went missing in eastern Ukraine on August 5. By mid-May, Stenin was reportedly captured by the Ukrainian Army. He later launched a public campaign in support of the missing photographer. Kiev never officially confirmed the information.
However, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, said, “As far as I know he has been arrested by our security service.” He later retracted his statement.
Questions surrounding Stenin's death remain. No side has claimed responsibility for firing the bomb. It is also unclear how many bodies were found in the burnt-out vehicle that is said to have formed part of a convoy.
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
1/22 30 November 2013
Public support grows for the “Euromaidan” anti-government protesters in Kiev demonstrating against Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the EU Association Agreement as images of them injured by police crackdown spread.
2/22 20 February 2014
Kiev sees its worst day of violence for almost 70 years as at least 88 people are killed in 48 hours, with uniformed snipers shooting at protesters from rooftops.
3/22 22 February 2014
Yanukovych flees the country after protest leaders and politicians agree to form a new government and hold elections. The imprisoned former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is freed from prison and protesters take control of Presidential administration buildings, including Mr Yanukovych's residence.
Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Imageses
4/22 27 February 2014
Pro-Russian militias seize government buildings in Crimea and the new Ukrainian government vows to prevent the country breaking up as the Crimean Parliament sets a referendum on secession from Ukraine in May.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
5/22 16 March 2014
Crimea votes overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a ballot condemned by the US and Europe as illegal. Russian troops had moved into the peninsula weeks before after pro-Russian separatists occupied buildings.
6/22 6 April 2014
Pro-Russian rebels seize government buildings in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, calling for a referendum on independence and claiming independent republic. Ukraine authorities regain control of Kharkiv buildings on 8 April after launching an “anti-terror operation” but the rest remain out of their control.
7/22 7 June 2014
Petro Poroshenko is sworn in as Ukraine's president, calling on separatists to lay down their arms and end the fighting and later orders the creation of humanitarian corridors, since violated, to allow civilians to flee war zones.
8/22 27 June 2014
The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova, eight months after protests over the abandonment of the deal sparked the crisis.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
9/22 17 July 2014
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Ukrainian intelligence officials claim it was hit by rebels using a Buk surface-to-air launcher in an apparent accident.
10/22 22 August 2014
A Russian aid convoy of more than 100 lorries enters eastern Ukraine and makes drop in rebel-controlled Luhansk without Government permission, sparking allegations of a “direct violation of international law”.
11/22 29 August 2014
Nato releases satellite images appearing to show Russian soldiers, artillery and armoured vehicles engaged in military operations in eastern Ukraine.
12/22 8 September 2014
Russia warns that it could block flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new sanctions over the ongoing crisis and conflict
13/22 17 September 2014
Despite the cease-fire and a law passed by the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday granting greater autonomy to rebel-held parts of the east, civilian casualties continued to rise, adding to the estimated 3,000 people killed
14/22 16 November 2014
The fragile ceasefire gives way to an increased wave of military activity as artillery fire continues to rock the eastern Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel bastion of Donetsk
15/22 26 December 2014
A new round of ceasefire talks, scheduled on neutral ground in the Belariusian capital Minsk, are called off
16/22 12 January 2015
Soldiers in Debaltseve were forced to prepare heavy defences around the city; despite a brief respite to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, hostilities in Donetsk resumed at a level not seen since September 2014
17/22 21 January 2015
13 people are killed during shelling of bus in the rebel-held city of Donetsk
18/22 24 January 2015
Ten people were killed after pro-Russian separatists bombarded the east Ukrainian port city of Mariupol
19/22 2 February 2015
There was a dangerous shift in tempo as rebels bolstered troop numbers against government forces
20/22 11 February 2015
European leaders meet in Minsk and agree on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine beginning on February 14. From left to right: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
MAXIM MALINOVSKY | AFP | Getty Images
21/22 13 February 2015
Pro-Russian rebels in the city of Gorlivka, in the Donetsk region, fire missiles at Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve. Fighting continued in Debaltseve for a number of days after the Minsk ceasefire began.
ANDREY BORODULIN | AFP | Getty Images
22/22 18 February 2015
Ukrainian soldiers repair the bullet-shattered windshield of their truck as their withdraw from the strategic town of Debaltseve. Following intense shelling from pro-Russian rebels, Ukrainian forces began to leave the town in the early hours of February 18.
Brendan Hoffman | Getty Images
“We are deeply saddened by the results of the genetic expertise, which we had been anxiously waiting for,” said Johann Bihr, Head of Reporters Without Borders (RWB) Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “As far as we know, Andrei Stenin is the sixth media professional killed while covering the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.”
RWB calls for the belligerents to take all necessary measures to protect journalists and civilians as enshrined in resolution 1738 of international law set out by of the UN Security Council.
They also call on all competent authorities to carry out full and impartial investigations into the death of Stenin and other journalists killed in this conflict.
According to RWB, at least four journalists are currently detained by the Luhansk People’s Republic and one by the Donetsk People's Republic. Several journalists have also been arbitrarily detained by Ukrainian forces and voluntary battalions recently.
I attempted to contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service of Ukraine, but no one was willing to give a statement.Reuse content