List of ’10 Most Urgent Press Freedom Matters’ Highlights Journalists Covering War in Ukraine
1. Oleksandr Gunko (Ukraine)
On April 3, Russian soldiers from the town of Nova Kakhovka in southeastern Ukraine searched Oleksandr Gunko’s home, seized his phones and electronic devices and took him to an undisclosed location. Gunko is a poet and editor of the news site Nova Kakhovka City, which covered the rallies in the city against the Russian invasion.
2. Sota.Vision (Russia)
Journalists from independent Russian media detained, arrested, fined and charged.
Since March 7, authorities have detained at least seven journalists from the independent news site Sota.Vision, two of whom were sentenced to several days in prison. Authorities also fined and harassed outlet employees and seized their technical equipment for coverage of anti-war rallies and protests.
3. Iryna Dubchenko (Ukraine)
Journalist abducted from her home and detained by Russian forces.
On March 26, Russian forces arrested Iryna Dubchenko and searched her home, saying they were aware of her “journalistic activities”. They accused her of hiding a wounded Ukrainian soldier and took her to Donetsk for “an investigation”, according to Dubchenko’s sister and 1+1 correspondent Yakiv Noskov. On March 29, the Zaporizhzhia region of the Ukrainian military administration confirmed the kidnapping of the journalist and said that “response measures are being taken”.
4. Ivan Safronov (Russia)
Trial scheduled for a Russian journalist accused of high treason.
The trial is due to begin in early April for Ivan Safronov, a former reporter for Russian dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti, who was arrested in July 2020 by agents of the Russian Federal Security Service in connection with his reporting. He was charged with high treason for allegedly spying for a foreign country. His lawyer told CPJ that agents questioned Safronov about his March 2019 report on Russia’s alleged sale of fighter jets to Egypt. Safronov denied the allegations of high treason, according to the lawyer. If convicted, Safronov could face up to 20 years in prison, according to Russia’s criminal code. In July 2020, at least 18 journalists showing support for Safronov were arrested.
5. Remzi Bekirov (Crimea, Ukraine)
Crimean Tatar correspondent sentenced to 19 years in prison.
On March 10, a Russian court sentenced Remzi Bekirov, a correspondent for the independent news site Grani, to 19 years in prison for allegedly organizing the activities of a terrorist organization, a charge Bekirov denied. Bekirov, who is of Crimean Tatar ethnicity, live-streamed Russian authorities’ raids and trials against Crimean Tatars and also interviewed activists from the human rights group Crimean Solidarity. Russia has enforced its laws in Crimea since annexing the peninsula to Ukraine in March 2014, including imposing substantial restrictions on media freedom.
6. Viktoria Roshchina (Ukraine)
Reporter held hostage for ten days by Russian forces.
Viktoria Roschina, a journalist with the independent Ukrainian television channel Hromadske, was first reported missing on March 11 while traveling to Mariupol in the south-east of the country. Her employer reported that Russian forces had taken her hostage. Roshchina was released ten days later. According to Hromadske, the Russian “occupiers” forced her to record a video later posted on pro-Russian media and social media in which she was forced to deny being detained by Russian forces. Roshchina covered the Russian invasion in eastern and southern Ukraine. It is now in territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.
seven. Taisia Bekbulatova (Russia)
The freelance editor has struggled to evacuate her Russia-based staff.
After Russia passed a law threatening up to 15 years in prison for publishing “false” information about the invasion of Ukraine, Taisia Bekbulatova, editor-in-chief of Russian independent news site Holod , began frantically searching for ways to evacuate its Russian-based personnel. . Bekbulatova had moved to Tbilisi, Georgia, late last year after being declared a “foreign agent” by the Russian Justice Ministry. Bekbulatova sees Georgia as a stopover and notes that it is “not the safest country for independent journalists as the current government is trying to avoid unnecessary conflict with Putin.”
8. Dmitry Muratov (Russia)
The Nobel Prize-winning editor has suspended an independent newspaper.
Dmitry Muratov, founder and editor of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, is the 2007 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Prize and received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his work. In March, Novaya Gazeta covered an interview Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave to a group of independent Russian journalists. Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor warned that the media were banned from publishing the interview. Therefore, Novaya Gazeta has suspended publication in print and online until the end of Russia’s so-called “special operation” in Ukraine.
9. Vladislav Yesypenko (Crimea, Ukraine)
Crimean journalist sentenced to six years in prison.
In February, a court in Russian-occupied Crimea convicted Vladislav Yesypenko, a correspondent for the US Congress-funded television station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, of possessing and transporting explosives, and sentenced him to six years from prison. Yesypenko maintained his innocence throughout the closed trial and testified that authorities “want to discredit the work of independent journalists who really want to show what is really happening in Crimea,” according to the news reports.
ten. Rodion Severyanov (Russia)
Russian war correspondent shot and wounded in Ukraine.
On March 29, Rodion Severyanov, a war correspondent for the Russian pro-government broadcaster Izvestiya TV, which was embedded with Russian forces, was wounded in the leg in the southeastern Ukrainian town of Mariupol. He said he was shot while trying to help a wounded Russian soldier. In an interview, Severyanov said that a Ukrainian sniper shot him; however, CPJ was unable to independently verify the source of the fire.