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At least 28 Ukrainian journalists are in Russian captivity. Here are some of their stories.

Source: Meduza

At least 28 Ukrainian media workers and citizen journalists are currently imprisoned in Russia or Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, according to a new report from Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists. Some of these reporters were arrested in occupied Crimea prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion, while others were captured in Ukrainian territories that came under occupation after February 2022. In a recent report, Novaya Gazeta Europe profiled more than a dozen Ukrainian journalists who are currently in Russian captivity. Meduza shares some of their stories here.

Viktoria Roshchyna

On March 18, 2022, the Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske announced that one of its journalists, Viktoria Roshchyna, had disappeared while reporting in Russian-occupied territory. The newsroom had lost contact with Roshchyna on March 12. Russian FSB agents had arrested her when she tried to leave Berdyansk for Mariupol. Roshchyna spent ten days in Russian custody and was then released after being forced to record a video claiming that she had no complaints about her detention and that Russian forces had “saved her life.”

In early August 2023, Roschyna disappeared for a second time while reporting from occupied territory in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region. According to the Ukrainian news site Graty, she was reporting on Russia’s sham elections in the region, as well as the consequences of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and conditions at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The journalist’s family received no news about her whereabouts for nine months, despite their attempts to contact Russian authorities, including Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkovka. Then, earlier this week, Roschyna’s father, Volodymyr Roschyn, received a letter from the Russian Defense Ministry confirming that she had been arrested and “is located on the territory of the Russian Federation.” According to Graty, the letter didn’t provide any further details about Roschyna’s whereabouts or the reason for her detention. 

Dmytro Khyliuk 

Journalist Dmytro Khyliuk reported for the outlet UNIAN in Kyiv. On March 1, 2022, he wrote on social media that Russian forces had reached Kozarovychi, the village in the Kyiv region where he and his family were staying. Russian forces captured Khyliuk and his father Vasyl on March 3, after they came out of hiding to inspect the damage to their home from shelling. Vasyl was released eight days later, but Dmytro’s whereabouts remained unknown.

Citing the Media Initiative for Human Rights, a Ukrainian NGO, Graty reported that Khyliuk and other detainees were held in warehouses in Kozarovychi and Dymer, another village in the Kyiv region. When Russian forces withdrew from the region in April 2022, they took these hostages with them. That May, human rights activists said that Khyliuk was believed to be in a prison in Novozybkov, a small town in Russia’s Bryansk region.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) later confirmed that in May 2023, Khyliuk was transferred from Novozybkov to the IK-7 prison colony in Pakino, a village in Russia’s Vladimir region. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross managed to visit Khyliuk in prison that summer.

After Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died in prison in Russia in February 2024, RSF requested that the Russian authorities release Khyliuk or, at the very least, provide proof of life. In April, RSF reported that according to a letter from the Russian Defense Ministry, Khyliuk was still in prison in Russia. RSF also said that the letter seemed to imply that Russia considers Khyliuk a prisoner of war, rather than a civilian journalist. 

Iryna Levchenko

In May 2023, the Center for Journalistic Investigations reported that veteran journalist Iryna Levchenko and her husband Oleksandr had been kidnapped in her hometown of Melitopol. According to Telegraf, the news site Levchenko reported for, she retired from journalism for her own safety after Russian troops occupied Melitopol in February 2022.

Following their capture, Zaporizhzhia’s Center for Journalistic Solidarity reported that Iryna and Oleksandr were being held in “inhumane conditions” on fabricated terrorism charges and had been “subjected to physical and psychological torture.” According to the Center’s sources, Iryna was later transferred to an unknown location. 

Later, Iryna’s sister Olena said that Oleksandr managed to get a note to her, confirming that he had been accused of “terrorism.” 

Heorhiy Levchenko and Anastasiya Glukhovska 

According to Ukrainian media reports, FSB agents arrested Heorhiy Levchenko and Anastasiya Glukhovska in Melitopol in August 2023. But this wasn’t made public until late that October, when two Russian state-owned news channels aired footage of their arrests. 

Both journalists reported for the Telegram-based news channel RIA Melitopol. However, Glukhovska resigned immediately after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, fearing the risks associated with her work, her sister told the Committee to Protect Journalists. Local journalist Svitlana Zalizetska told CPJ the Russian authorities have charged Levchenko with “terrorism.” Both he and Glukhovska’s whereabouts are still unknown. 

Vladyslav Yesypenko

A dual Ukrainian and Russian citizen, 55-year-old Vladyslav Yesypenko worked in Crimea. He covered social and economic issues, filmed surveys of local residents, and contributed to RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities. FSB agents arrested Yesypenko in March 2021 on suspicion of gathering information for Ukrainian intelligence. He was later charged with “possession and transport of explosives.” 

In court, Yesypenko said he was tortured with electric shocks while in Russian custody to extract a false confession. According to Crimea.Realities, Yesypenko was denied access to a lawyer for almost a month after his arrest. A Simferopol court sentenced Yesypenko to six years in prison on February 16, 2022. 

Hennadiy Osmak

Hennadiy Osmak was formerly the editor-in-chief of the news site Novyi Vizyt, which shut down following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In March 2024, pro-Kremlin Russian media and Telegram channels reported that Osmak had been arrested in an occupied area of Ukraine’s Kherson region and charged with “participation in an illegal armed group.” Allegedly, he is also suspected of working for Ukrainian intelligence. 

The Telegram channel Mash linked Osmak to the Noman Çelebicihan Crimean Tatar Volunteer Battalion, which Russia has blacklisted as a terrorist organization. “[Osmak] faces up to 15 years in prison, but this term could increase — if it turns out that he was an SBU ‘sleeper’ agent,” Mash wrote.


‘We're all war correspondents now’ How Russia’s full-scale invasion has changed Ukrainian journalism


‘We're all war correspondents now’ How Russia’s full-scale invasion has changed Ukrainian journalism

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