Ukrainian journalists kidnapped by Russian troops in occupied areas: NPR

Reporters and residents stand outside a residential building that has been damaged by what authorities say is a Russian shelling in the Vynogradir district of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 15. Several Ukrainian journalists have captured and held hostage in Russian-occupied areas.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

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Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Reporters and residents stand outside a residential building that has been damaged by what authorities say is a Russian shelling in the Vynogradir district of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 15. Several Ukrainian journalists have captured and held hostage in Russian-occupied areas.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Russian soldiers are kidnapping Ukrainian journalists in disputed territories and holding them hostage, according to international groups and survivors.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is a global non-profit organization based in Paris say on friday that the Russians kidnapped, detained and tortured dozens of journalists, while the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations told BBC that it verified at least 36 cases of civilian detention in Ukraine.

“Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian armed forces have bullied and threatened local journalists and media in the occupied territories to prevent them from reporting,” the RSF said. facts and make them propagate the Kremlin.”

It added that the soldiers were becoming “more creative in their efforts to get Ukrainian journalists to cooperate as the war in Ukraine entered its second month,” turning to death threats, kidnapping and forcible disappearances.

Russian forces say they have occupied several Ukrainian cities in recent weeks and have arrested local officials – including mayor of Melitopolwho was released – in some such place.

A United Nations spokesman told the BBC that those targeted were “primarily representatives of local communities, journalists and people who have spoken out about their pro-Ukrainian stance.” Many incidents involve journalists and even members of their families.

A journalist says her father is being held hostage to pressure her

Svetlana Zalizetskaya, editor of the newspaper Golovna Gazeta Melitopola and the RIA-Melitopol news site, reported that Russian forces were holding her 75-year-old father hostage as punishment for her criticism of the war.

She wrote on Facebook Three people – two soldiers with machine guns and one in civilian clothes – entered her home early Wednesday morning, conducted a messy search, took her parents’ phones and took her father to a remote location. Unknown point, according to the English translation from Ukraine. Institute of Mass Communication.

Zalizetskaya said she has been informed to loved ones that her father will only be released after she enlists in the army. However, she is not in Melitopol: She left the city after being called to a “precautionary” meeting with the city leadership installed by the Russians, where she refused to stop criticizing the invasion .

Zalizetskaya’s father’s whereabouts are unknown, although she then wrote that he had told her over the phone that he was being held “in some basement.” She also said that he had previously had a stroke and that her mother had survived a heart attack.

“If anything happens to my parents, it will be on the conscience of the occupants,” said the English translation of her post.

A photojournalist has been missing for almost two weeks

Ukrainian photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Maks Levin has been missing since mid-March, according to his friends and family.

According to Committee to Protect JournalistsLevin went missing near the village of Huta-Mezhyhirska, in the Kyiv region, where he was carrying out clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces on March 13. He is believed to have left his car there and gone to another village, but his phone hasn’t connected since then. that morning and he has not been seen since.

Levin’s colleague and friend, Markiian Lyseiko, wrote on Facebook that “it is assumed that he may have been wounded or captured by Russian troops.”

Levin has covered Russia’s invasions of Ukraine since 2014, and has contributed to Reuters, BBC, The Associated Press and other international media outlets, according to Ukraine’s state news agency. Ukrinform. He has also worked on projects with organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

In one Interview with Vice published a few days before his disappearance, Levin described his experience reporting on the front lines and pledged to continue his work documenting the daily lives of Ukrainian soldiers.

“Me, I’ll stay on the front lines as long as I’m fit,” he said. “These soldiers are my friends.”

Russian forces allegedly kidnapped, tortured and threatened others

The RSF has detailed several cases of Russian forces taking journalists hostage, as well as arresting and threatening them, in the weeks since the invasion began.

On March 8, Russian soldiers stormed a building in the coastal city of Berdianks, home to several media outlets: radio Novosti Berdianks, newspaper Berdianskiye Vedomosti and Youg TV channel. RSF said it quickly took control of its TV channel, radio station and social media accounts, and “held about 50 employees of the media present here hostage.” .

A journalist present told RSF on condition of anonymity that the soldiers offered to pay salaries and food in exchange for the cooperation of the hostages, but no one accepted. He said that for more than five hours they threatened the hostages with their weapons and explained Russia’s reasons for the war, saying they were there to protect them from the Nazis. The incident clearly had a chilling effect.

“Since this hostage-taking, Novosti Berdiansk has been broadcasting Kremlin propaganda calling on Ukrainians to lay down their arms,” ​​RSF said. “Access to their website, one of the most visited in the region before the start of the war, was blocked.”

The RSF also alleges that Russian forces are kidnapping and threatening individual journalists.

Hromadske Radio journalist Viktoria Roshchina was working in the Russian-occupied port city of Berdiansk when she went missing on March 12, and was released 10 days later after being forced to film a video saying she She was treated well and the Russian soldiers “saved her life,” according to RSF. The BBC reported on a slightly different timeline, saying she was captured by unidentified men on March 15 and released after six days.

RSF also said journalist Oleg Baturin was detained and tortured for eight days after being abducted by Russian soldiers in the Kherson region, while an unnamed French Radio repairman was kidnapped near Kyiv. said he had been held hostage for over a weekwas subjected to electric torture, food shortages, and mock executions.

In Melitopol, four journalists were arrested at their home on Monday and forcibly taken by Russian soldiers to an unknown location, only to be released a few hours later.

Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists confirmed the account to the BBC, describing the arrest as part of a “wave of disinformation” aimed at “intimidating journalists and public figures.”

The RSF said the Russian military had also threatened to kill specific journalists, even posting a woman’s address and passport data online and calling on her to face punishment for criticizing the Kremlin. .

At least seven journalists have been killed in Ukraine since the first, most recent Russian invasion Russian reporter Oksana Baulina.

This story originally appeared in the Morning version live blogs.

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