How the war is affecting press freedom in the region
Updated May 19, 2022
The Red Cross has registered hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war after Russia said Ukrainian forces surrendered after a standoff at a steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol in mid-May. Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine has endangered journalists in both countries.
At least seven journalists are confirmed to have died while covering the war and CPJ is investigating reports of whether six other journalists were killed because of their work. In Russia, scores of reporters have fled the country or are facing prosecution as the country cracks down on independent media.
CPJ has compiled a weekly timeline of the war’s impact on journalists and independent media outlets in the region. For CPJ’s full coverage, including safety advice for journalists, click here.
May 13 – 19, 2022
Ukrainian journalists under threat, journalist in Crimea detained by Russia
- Journalist Iryna Danilovich, who went missing April 29, was found May 11 by her lawyer detained by Russian authorities in Crimea. She has been charged with illegally handling explosives.
- Tetyana Nakonechnaya, a correspondent for the Ukrainian ICTV channel, on May 18 posted a video on Facebook of her camera crew coming under shelling in Donbas. They all escaped unharmed.
- The Kherson branch of Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) reported that on May 16, Oleksiy Vorontsov, one of the broadcaster’s engineers, was allegedly abducted by Russian forces from his apartment in occupied Kherson. The reports also said that Russian forces allegedly looted the public broadcaster’s building in Kherson, and intend to launch Tavria, a propaganda channel.
- Zaborona reported that a three-member film crew–camera operator Mykola Dondyuk, journalist Vira Mironova, and photographer Ivan Chernichkin–came under heavy Russian fire on May 15 in Cherkaski Tishki village, near Kharkiv. They all escaped unharmed.
Ukraine restricts foreign journalists it says are Russian propagandists, RT journalists injured
- Interfax Ukraine reported May 13 that Ukraine’s security service identified 13 foreign journalists as working for Russian propaganda and banned them from entering Ukraine for three years.
- Kremlin-backed television channel RT reported on its Telegram channel that two of its cameramen were injured during a rocket attack in the Donetsk region on May 13.
Russia seeks to further squeeze independent media, expel foreign correspondents
- Russia’s State Duma, is set to consider legislation on May 24 that would allow authorities to invalidate the registration and accreditation of media outlets without a court order and hold newsrooms accountable for information they republish.
- CBC/Radio-Canada reported May 18 that Russian authorities have moved to close the outlet’s Moscow bureau and cancel the visa and accreditations of its journalists in retaliation for Canada banning Russian state TV.
- Meduza reported May 13 that a Russian court fined Radio Svoboda, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian service, 12.8 million rubles (US$197,000) for refusing to remove “fakes” about the war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian journalists report struggles, get help from Poland
- NUJU reported May 13 that over 74% of Ukrainian media lack the funds to continue working; 90% of newsrooms have lost advertising revenue; and a quarter of local journalists are working without pay.
- Polish media groups are providing equipment to Ukrainian journalists reporting inside the country and shelter to those who have fled.
The work of a journalist killed in Ukraine gets international showing
- Meduza reported that a film, which Lithuanian documentarian Mantas Kvedaravičius shot before his April 2 death in Mariupol, will be shown during the Cannes film festival.
May 6 – 12, 2022
Journalists in Ukraine under threat
- Ukrainian photojournalist Ihor Hudenko has been missing in Kharkiv since February.
- Zmina reports that the father of Iryna Danilovich, a journalist missing in Crimea, said he got access to a video allegedly showing plainclothes men abducting Danilovich at a bus station. The Crimean prosecutor’s office has opened criminal proceedings.
- NUJU reports that over 80 journalists escaped the besieged southern city of Mariupol during March and April, and most are safe in unoccupied areas of Ukraine.
The Pulitzer Prizes honor Ukrainian journalists
- The Pulitzer Prizes awarded a special citation to Ukraine’s journalists, praising the country’s reporters for their “courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting.”
Russia detains, searches, and charges journalists
- Russian authorities detained and searched the homes of four Sota.Vision journalists and three Skat Media journalists amid Victory Day celebrations in Russia.
- Sota.Vision reports that Russian authorities demanded that detained journalist Sergei Mikhailov, publisher of the Listok newspaper, delete the newspaper’s Telegram channel.
- In a Telegram post, Novaya Gazeta journalist Ilya Azar says he was charged with “discrediting” the Russian army in a Facebook post. He faces a fine of 100,000 rubles (US$1,470).
European Union blames Russia for European cyberattack
- TechCrunch reports that on May 10, the U.S., European Union, and the United Kingdom among other countries formally attributed a cyberattack that affected internet modems of tens of thousands of residents across central and eastern Europe to the Russian government. The EU noted that the cyberattack “took place one hour before” Russia invaded Ukraine.
Facebook withdraws request for guidance on Russia-Ukraine war content
- Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said on May 11 that it withdrew a policy guidance request regarding moderation of Russia-Ukraine war content, which its Oversight Board put forward. This is the first time Meta revoked one of their requests for policy guidance to the board. The company broadly cited “ongoing safety and security concerns” without going into details.
April 29 – May 5, 2022
Journalists in Ukraine under attack, one missing in Russian-occupied Crimea
- Relatives and Ukraine’s journalist union (NUJU) reported that journalist and writer Natalia Harakoz died during the Russian attack on Mariupol after hiding in a basement; the circumstances of her death were unclear.
- Journalist Iryna Danilovich went missing in Crimea and unidentified men searched the family’s home.
- Belarusian journalist Denis Staji, who moved to Ukraine in 2018, was attacked and beaten in his Kyiv apartment for several days by unknown individuals, his wife said in social media posts.
- Sky News published a video showing the outlet’s journalists fleeing shelling in Aleksandrovka, in the Donbas region.
Ukrainian journalists freed from Russian detention speak out
- Journalist Oleh Baturin recounted to RFE/FL his brutal week as a Russian prisoner.
- Serhiy Starushko, a journalist held for several hours when Russian forces occupied the port city Berdyansk, told NUJU that Russians had addresses and phone numbers of journalists and their family members when they came to the city.
Russia detains, investigates, censors journalists
- Meduza and Baza reported that Russian police are investigating Ilya Ber, the chief editor of the Provereno fact-checking organization, after he posted on social media about the manipulation of information concerning Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian forces in Bucha.
- Proekt reported that journalists from TASS, the Russian state media agency, received strict orders to gain superiors’ approval before publishing statements from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has commented about Russian war efforts and criticized the authorities.
- Sota.Vision reported on the detention of two Novaya Gazeta journalists, Elena Lukyanova and Aleksei Dushutin, at an anti-war protest in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lukyanova said she was not there as a journalist.
- TASS reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new decree “to ensure the information security of Russia” by protecting the country’s computer systems from attack. Putin also signed a law suspending simplified visa procedures for designated categories of people — including journalists — coming to Russia from most European countries, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Voice of America reported on Russian citizen journalists facing legal harassment and threats for writing about the war on social media.
- Meduza and The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian intelligence was behind the attack in which someone threw paint on Nobel laureate and Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov.
- UNIAN reported that Russian state broadcaster Channel One fired well-known TV host and comedian Maksim Galkin for his critical stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
- Mediazona reported that Kazakh news outlet New Times deleted reports about Ukraine at the request of Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor.
Russia reroutes Kherson’s internet, and hacks abound in Russia and Ukraine
- Russia took the Ukrainian city of Kherson offline and then rerouted service through Russian telecom networks Rostelecom and Miranda, instead of Ukrainian infrastructure, international digital rights group NetBlocks said.
- Russia has stepped up efforts to mine troves of data about Ukrainian citizens since October 2021, according to The Associated Press. Hackers have targeted the Ministry of Internal Affairs and a national database on automobile insurance, among other government agencies and nonprofits, likely to create individual dossiers and break down trust in Ukrainian institutions, according to analysts.
- Lithuanian virtual private network and security firm Surfshark, which surveys international data breaches, said for the first time that Russia topped its list of countries where data was compromised. Breached data has included documents from Roskomnadzor and state-owned media chain All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, according to The Washington Post.
- Russia has experienced a mass exodus of tech workers from the country due to companies leaving Russia and international sanctions, which experts expect will negatively impact the state media ecosystem, according to The Washington Post.
- Spilka News reported that Pro Vse, a website based in the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, continues to receive anonymous threats that its site will be blocked if it doesn’t stop the “fake news pipeline” about Russia. The site has already suffered several denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
April 22 – 28, 2022
Ukrainian journalists threatened and pressured
- Journalists from the Ukrainian news website RIA Melitopol have received anonymous threats for covering the war.
- Ukrainian activist and journalist Serhiy Tsygipa, who had not been seen since his alleged kidnapping by Russian forces on March 12, appeared in a video on Russian propaganda channels on YouTube as a senior officer of the Ukrainian Army “who moved to Russia.”
- A National Union of Journalists in Ukraine representative spoke about the state of journalism in Berdyansk, a southeast port city that has been under Russian occupation for almost two months. “Berdyansk was once a media city… All this information diversity almost disappeared in February-March 2022.”
- The Associated Press reported that Russia is compiling digital dossiers on Ukrainians — a move that could lead to the targeting of specific individuals.
The war damages media infrastructure
- Meduza reported that explosions in the Mayak settlement, in Moldova’s breakaway region of Trans-Dniester, disabled two radio antennas that were broadcasting Russian radio.
- On April 23, authorities in St. Petersburg detained Maria Ponomarenko, a correspondent for the Siberian news website RusNews, and charged her under Russia’s law prohibiting spreading “fake” information about the country’s military. On April 27, a judge in St. Petersburg ordered her to be detained for two months pending investigation.
- Russian authorities charged Ilya Krasilshchik, a former publisher of the independent Latvia-based news website Meduza, under its law prohibiting spreading “fake” information about the country’s military.
Russia detains and charges journalists, Russian journalists harassed
- Pavel Chikov, head of the Agora international human rights project, published a list of seven journalists and four bloggers and administrators who have been charged under the same legislation.
- Sergei Mikhaylov, publisher of the independent Russian newspaper Listok, spoke to Sota.Vision about the details surrounding his detention and charges for writing about the war.
- Meduza reported that unidentified individuals sprayed graffiti on the house and car of Russian journalists Ekaterina Malysheva, of Takie Dela, and her husband Yevgeny Malyshev, of 7×7, in Penza, in western Russia.
- On April 22, several news outlets reported that Russia’s justice ministry had added eight people to its media register of “individuals labeled as foreign agents,” including former Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) chief editor Alexei Venediktov
Russia continues censoring coverage of the war
- Sota.Vision reported that since February 24, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has blocked 85,000 items about the war.
- Novaya Gazeta reported that a Moscow court fined Wikimedia Foundation, which supports Wikipedia, 3 million rubles (US$40,000) for failing to remove five articles about the war.
- Russian NGO Roskomsvoboda said Roskomnadzor has blocked Kyrgyz news website and blogging platform Kloop for material published on Russia’s invasion.
- Mediazona reported that Kazakhstan news outlet New Times deleted reports about Ukraine at the request of Roskomnadzor.
- Russian state broadcaster Channel One fired well-known TV host and comedian Maksim Galkin for his critical stance on Putin’s war in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
Russia escalates pressure on Google
- A Moscow court seized more than $6 million dollars of assets belonging to Google in Russia. The seizure is a guarantee in a possible court decision in a case against the company for shutting down the YouTube channels of state-funded outlets. Google, which owns YouTube, said that it blocked the channels to fight misinformation and disinformation.
[Editor’s note: The spelling of Sergei Mikhaylov’s name was corrected in the the 12th paragraph of the April 22-28 section. The spelling of the word Kyrgyz was corrected in the 16th paragraph.]
April 15 – 21, 2022
Ukrainian journalists under pressure
- The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine says the whereabouts of 26 journalists who were in the besieged city of Mariupol are unknown.
- The NUJU says “representatives of the media – Ukrainian or international – pose a threat to the Russian occupiers because they record the crimes they commit in Ukraine.”
- Five Ukrainian photographers tell TIME how they are coping with the dangers of documenting the invasion.
- DW examines how and why the Ukrainian government is restricting press freedom during the war.
Russia cracks down on reports about the Russian army
- Police searched Listok editorial offices and the homes of several employees, and arrested Listok’s publisher, Sergey Mikhaylov, for allegedly spreading “fakes” about the Russian army.
- Police also searched the home of Novy Fokus chief editor Mikhail Afanasyev and later arrested him on charges of disseminating “false information” about the war.
- A Moscow court fined Google 11 million rubles (US$138,000) for failing to remove “fakes.”
Russia’s media regulator blocks more news websites; more Russian journalists flee
- Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked two regional websites, Krasnoyarsk Time and People of Baikal, for disseminating inaccurate information.
- Moscow Times says Roskomnadzor blocked its Russian-language service for publishing a “false report” on riot officers refusing to fight in Ukraine.
- Radio France Internationale says Roskomnadzor blocked its site after an interview with Ukrainians who say they were raped by Russian soldiers.
- Mediazone reports that journalists from the independent news website Dovod are leaving Russia after police raids following the outlet’s publication of photos of anti-war graffiti.
Russia detains, bans, and adds journalists to media foreign agent list
- Russian journalist Vladimir Sevrinovsky was detained for a day and fined 2,000 rubles (US$24) for disobedience after a fellow volunteer at a Ukrainian refugee center discovered his connection to the Meduza outlet and reported him to police.
- Over 30 Ukrainians were banned from entering Russia for 50 years, including several journalists such as travel blogger Anton Ptushkin and TV anchors Dmitry Komarov, Nikolai Serga, and Andrei Bedniakov.
- Russia’s Ministry of Justice added nine more people to the media foreign agent list, including independent journalist Yuri Dud and The Insider founder Roman Dobrokhotov.
April 8 – 14, 2022
Two Ukrainian journalists found killed, Russian journalist injured
- Roman Nezhyborets, a video technician at TV broadcaster Dytynets, was found killed in the northern Ukrainian village of Yahidne after Russian forces withdrew. His body was discovered April 6.
- Residents of Bucha, a city near the capital of Kyiv, discovered the body of freelance journalist and activist Zoreslav Zamoysky on a street sometime in early April.
- On April 11, Iryna Kuksenkova, a correspondent for the Russian state broadcaster Channel One, was injured by shrapnel while reporting in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Russian forces release Ukrainian journalist
- On April 8, Russian forces released Iryna Dubchenko, a correspondent for the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN and contributor to other local outlets, after detaining her March 26 from her home in the southeastern city of Rozivka.
- Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn spoke to RFE/RL about his eight-day detention; he said he was taken by Russian forces.
Russian journalists face continued detentions, harassment, and restrictions on reporting
- On April 8, Russian police briefly detained Yevgeny Levkovich, a reporter for Radio Svoboda, RFE/RL’s Russian service, at his home in Moscow, and charged him with “discrediting the army.”
- On April 10, two unidentified people attacked Vasiliy Vorona, a correspondent with the independent news website Sota.Vision, as he was interviewing people in Moscow. The outlet’s staff has been previously harassed and arrested.
- Sota.Vision also reported that it was prevented from covering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press conference at the Russian spaceport Vostochny Cosmodrome.
- Russian authorities labeled three journalists—independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta correspondent Iryna Borukhovich; Ekaterina Mayakovskaya, a reporter for the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russia project Idel.Realii; and Andrei Filimonov, a contributor to another of RFE/RL’s Russia projects, Sibir.Realii—as “media foreign agents.”
- Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked independent news websites Holod and Discours.io.
Russian internet access maintained in spite of sanctions
- On April 7, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued an order granting a general license to telecommunications companies to operate in the Russian Federation despite ongoing sanctions. The move comes after civil society groups, including CPJ, had called on the U.S. government to ensure that sanctions do not interfere with Russians’ access to the internet.
- YouTube, the last remaining major Western social media company to operate in Russia, blocked the Russian State Duma’s channel on the platform.
- Ukrainian civil society groups have called on Meta–the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp–not to remove posts with graphic content that could be used as evidence that Russia broke international law.
- Latvia-based independent Russian news site Meduza reported on a large leak of data from Roskomnadzor revealing that the Russian media regulator has an automated system to monitor news media, blogs, and social networks for “hotbeds of tension” and “spikes in dissent.” The leak came from Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a journalist transparency group.
April 1 – 7, 2022
Journalists killed and under fire while reporting in Ukraine
- Lithuanian documentary filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius was killed on April 2 while attempting to leave the besieged city of Mariupol.
- Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin, who had been missing since March 13, was found dead on April 1 near the village of Huta-Mezhyhirska in the Vyshhorod district of the Kyiv region.
- CNN reported on April 4 that one of its crews narrowly escaped artillery fire near the southern city of Mykolaiv.
- The offices of Ukrainian newspaper Zorya in the Kharkiv region were damaged by shelling, the Ukrainian journalists’ union reported April 4.
Russian forces in Ukraine detain and search for journalists
- On April 3, Russian soldiers in the southeastern city of Nova Kakhovka searched journalist Oleksandr Gunko’s home, seized his phones and electronic devices, and took him to an undisclosed location. Gunko, the chief editor of the Nova Kakhovka City news website, was released on April 6.
- Ukrainian journalist Konstantin Ryzhenko went missing in the southern city of Kherson on March 30. He wrote on Facebook on April 4 that he had narrowly escaped being detained by Russian soldiers; he is now in hiding.
- Ukrainian reporter Dmytro Khilyuk, of the independent Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, was detained by Russian forces in the village of Kozarovychi, north of Kyiv, in early March.
Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov attacked with paint
- On April 7, during a train ride from Moscow to the city of Samara, an unidentified man shouted “Muratov, here’s one for our boys” and threw red paint on Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Russia detains, charges, and harasses domestic journalists
- Journalist Dmitry Kochanov, of the independent news website Sota.Vision, was briefly detained in the Russian city of Khimki on April 6 before being released without charge; he was covering a court hearing in the case of an eco-activist.
- In St. Petersburg, on April 2, cadets attacked Sota.Vision journalist Victoria Arefieva while she was filming near a military hospital.
- On April 1, at a court hearing in Moscow, the state prosecutor requested two years of correctional labor for four former editors of the student-run publication DOXA for allegedly involving minors in rallies. The editors–Armen Aramyan, Vladimir Metelkin, Alla Gutnikova, and Natalia Tyshkevich–were charged in April 2021 under Article 151.2 of the criminal code in connection with a January 2021 video asking authorities to stop intimidating students during political protests, and were placed under home detention.
- Tyshkevish was arrested at that hearing, and on April 2 was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for “displaying prohibited symbols” in a 2017 social media post containing a Ukrainian trident, which police called a symbol of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
Russia adds to foreign agent list; regulator imposes new restrictions
- On April 1, the Russian Ministry of Justice designated five more Russian journalists as so-called media foreign agents: former Dozhd TV (also known as TV Rain) journalist Maria Borzunova, Mediazona journalist Alla Konstantinova, The Bell founder Elizaveta Osetinskaya, The Bell editor-in-chief Irina Malkova, and Murad Muradov, a journalist for Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot) in Dagestan.
- On April 5, Yevgeny Kiselyov and Matvei Ganapolsky–two well-known journalists who left Russia in 2008 and 2014 respectively, and now work as journalists in Ukraine–were the first to be included on the Ministry of Justice’s list of “individuals labeled as foreign agents” for allegedly engaging in political activities funded by Ukraine.
- On April 4, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor demanded that Wikipedia remove information from five articles about the war; Wikipedia faced a $4 million ruble (US$48,000) fine for noncompliance.
- Russian outlets Mediazona, Republic, Taiga.info, and LentaChel filed lawsuits against Roskomnadzor and the prosecutor general’s office, after their websites were blocked following their coverage of the war.
- Roskomnadzor banned Google’s ability to advertise in Russia and ordered domestic search engines to write that the company violates Russian law.
Tech platforms move to limit government accounts and propaganda campaigns
- Twitter said April 5 that it will not “amplify or recommend government accounts belonging to states that limit access to free information and are engaged in armed interstate conflict.” The platform added that it will “ask government or state affiliated media accounts to remove any media published that features prisoners of war (PoW) under our private information and media policy,” and that government or state-affiliated media accounts that post content showing prisoners of war that have a “compelling public interest” will have user warnings attached instead.
- Facebook disrupted covert propaganda campaigns by adversarial networks that attempted to sway public opinion on the war, the company said in its quarterly Adversarial Threat Report released April 7. The company said it increased resources for regional fact-checkers and launched a special operations center with Russian and Ukrainian speakers to track issues related to the conflict on the social media platform, according to the Washington Post.
March 25 – 31, 2022
Journalists have been injured and threatened while working in Ukraine
- On March 29, Rodion Severyanov, a war correspondent for the Russian broadcaster Izvestiya TV, was shot in the leg and wounded in the southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
- On March 26, Oleksandr Navrotskyi, a camera operator for the Ukrainian broadcaster Channel 24, was injured in a Russian shelling attack on the village of Lukyanovka, in the Kyiv region.
- On March 25, Russian forces shelled a civilian convoy in the northern region of Chernihiv, injuring Andriy Tsaplienko, a reporter with the Ukrainian TV broadcaster 1+1.
- On March 26, Russian forces detained journalist Iryna Dubchenko in the southeast city of Rozivka, and took her to the Russia-backed separatist-controlled city of Donetsk.
- Ukrainian journalist Svetlana Zalizetskaya said her father, Iosif Zalizetsky, was released after he was taken for nearly three days by people in Russian uniform in retaliation for her journalism.
- A team with British broadcaster Sky News said it came under Russian shelling while reporting in Chernihiv.
Ukraine imposes restrictions and penalties on war reporting
- The security service of Ukraine said foreign media outlets reporting on the sites of attacks can be considered spies and urged journalists not to report on attacks before official reports.
- Ukraine criminalizes photographing the movements of soldiers, weapons, and equipment.
Russia detains, harasses journalists
- On March 31, Russian police detained Ngs24.ru journalist Maria Antyusheva because of social media comments and charged her with discrediting the army.
- On March 29, law enforcement officers in Moscow briefly detained Gleb Sokolov, a correspondent with independent Russian news site Sota.Vision, for allegedly failing to wear a press insignia while covering a protest. He was charged with violating the established procedure for rallies.
- Sokolov is one of at least seven journalists with Sota.Vision who have been detained since March 7, including two who were sentenced to multiple days in prison; authorities also fined and harassed employees of the outlet.
Russia continues to target news sites and tech platforms, and news outlets go dark
- On March 28 independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, had issued a warning over the newspaper’s coverage, and that it would cease publishing in print and online until the end of Russia’s so-called “special operation” in Ukraine.
- Novaya Gazeta also removed Elena Kostyuchenko’s reports on the war in Ukraine.
- Also on March 28, Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, said it was suspending operations in Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine.
- Roskomnadzor said it would draw up administrative protocols against Google for failing to remove “prohibited information,” which could result in a fine of up to 8 million rubles (US$95,000).
- Roskomnadzor blocked the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s services in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, German news site Bild, and Lithuanian Russian-language website Delfi.
- Russian authorities labeled a science journal as a “foreign agent.”
New international sanctions hit the Russian state press
- On March 31, the U.K. announced 14 new sanctions on “Russia propagandists and state media.”
Ukraine continues to have internet service access against the odds
- Internet service providers in Ukraine, including state-owned Ukrtelecom, suffered major outages on March 28, which the government blamed on hacks. This followed alleged hacks on Ukrainian internet service provider Triolan and telecom provider Viasat. U.S. officials said Viasat was targeted by the Russian military. Viasat, a U.S. company, told Reuters it was still being targeted.
- Telecom companies’ employees are keeping the country online amid the hacks, power outages, and damages to physical infrastructure, often risking their lives to repair or replace equipment, reports the Financial Times.
- Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, has waged an advocacy offensive to ask tech companies to build a “digital blockade” around Russia and to help keep his country online. Fedorov helped facilitate Tesla founder Elon Musk’s shipment of thousands of Starlink satellites to the country to provide satellite internet as a backup in case traditional cables are cut or there are power outages, The Washington Post reported.
March 18 – 24, 2022
Journalists have been killed, threatened, and have gone missing while working in Ukraine
- Russian journalist Oksana Baulina was killed while on assignment for Latvia-based news website The Insider amid a Russian attack on Kyiv on March 23.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is “looking very hard” at whether Russia is targeting journalists in Ukraine after the killings of Pierre Zakrzewski, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, and Brent Renaud.
- On March 23 the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine reported on the March 11 killing of Viktor Dedov, a senior camera operator at the Mariupol-based independent television station Sigma-TV. He died during shelling on his apartment building.
- Freelance photojournalist Maks Levin went missing on March 13, when he was reporting near Huta-Mezhyhirska in the Kyiv region.
- On March 21, Viktoria Roshchina, a reporter with independent Ukrainian television station Hromadske who went missing on March 11, was released, according to a statement by her employer. The statement identified her captors as “occupiers” in Russia-held territory.
- Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn, who went missing in the southeastern city of Kakhovka on March 12, was released on March 20. His sister posted a message from Baturyn on Facebook in which Baturyn described being threatened with execution and humiliated by captors he did not identify in the post.
- On March 21, unidentified armed men briefly detained four journalists with the Ukrainian news agency MV in the southeastern Russian-occupied city of Melitopol.
- Ruslan Vinnichenko, a journalist with Ukrainian TV channel Apostrophe TV, said he was held for a week by Russian forces in a basement alongside dozens of civilians before he escaped March 10.
- Two Associated Press journalists said in a firsthand account that Russians were “hunting” them during the siege of Mariupol.
Russia detains, questions, and prosecutes journalists, and raids their offices and homes
- On March 21, authorities in the Siberian region of Kemerovo detained Andrey Novashov, a reporter with the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster RFE/RL’s project Sibir.Realii, and charged him with distributing “fake” information.
- On March 18, at least 10 journalists were detained in Russia while preparing to cover rallies and events in support of the Russian military and in celebration of the 2014 “annexation of Crimea.”
- On March 18, Russian authorities questioned Sibir.Realii reporter Svetlana Prokopyeva, a recipient of CPJ’s 2020 International Press Freedom Award, according to a report by RFE/RL, which said she is a witness in a libel case against the governor of the Pskov region.
- The Russian government opened a criminal case against Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon after statements he made on Ukrainian TV and YouTube.
- On March 18, law enforcement officers searched the home of Denis Kamalyagin, chief editor of independent newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya in the western Pskov region, as well as the homes of journalists Viktor Agafonov and Svetlana Prokopyeva.
- On March 5, officers with the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Center for Combating Extremism and the OMON special riot police raided the office of Pskovskaya Guberniya.
Russian journalists seek different ways to report the news
- Weekly Russian newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya’s editor in chief Denis Kamalyagin writes the outlet’s editorial staff are leaving the country after increased pressure.
- Staff at Russian independent news site Novaya Gazeta, who have mostly remained in the country, report on the war without using the outlawed word “war.” Instead, they replace the term with “<…>” or “you know what” or the Kremlin-approved phrase “special operation,” writes Ann Cooper.
Russia expands efforts to outlaw “fake” information on the war
- Russia State Duma adopts a bill introducing criminal penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment for spreading false information about Russian agencies operating abroad.
Russia blocks Google news, outlaws social media platforms
- On March 23, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked Google news service; on March 21 it blocked the news site of Euronews TV.
- On March 21, a Russian court deemed Meta “extremist” and outlawed Facebook and Instagram, which were previously banned by Roskomnadzor. The court said that the ruling would not affect WhatsApp.
- Rozkomnadzor said that Russian media is forbidden from displaying the logos of Meta, Facebook, and Instagram. Human rights lawyers and rights groups have warned that people could face criminal prosecution for displaying the logos on business cards.
- Russian prosecutors have said that people who access the social media platforms via Virtual Private Networks will not be prosecuted. But Rozkomnadzor has been cracking down on VPN use by forcing Google to delist tens of thousands of URLs that link to VPNs, according to an analysis by Surfshark, a VPN service company.
- Bloomberg reports that Russia may block or outlaw YouTube next. The video platform has banned a channel from Russia’s Ministry of Defense and Roskomnadzor has warned Google, which owns YouTube, against spreading alleged threats to Russians on YouTube, according to Reuters. The often pro-Kremlin Russian Union of Journalists has asked Roskomnadzor and prosecutors to take action against YouTube.
Countries continue to put pressure on state-affiliated Russia Today
- UK communications regulator Ofcom revoked Russia Today’s broadcast license; Canada removed RT and RT France from Canadian television.
March 12 – 17, 2022
Journalists have been killed, threatened, and have gone missing while working in Ukraine
- On March 14, Fox News camera operator Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed when a vehicle carrying their news team was attacked near the village of Horenka outside of Kyiv. Correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured.
- On March 13, documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud, who was in Ukraine reporting on a project for Time Studios, was shot and killed in Irpin, outside Kyiv. Photojournalist Juan Arredondo was injured in the attack.
- On March 12, Oleh Baturyn, a reporter with the Ukrainian newspaper Novyi Den, went missing in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Kakhovka, in the Kherson region. Ukrainian members of parliament claim that Russian forces detained him and have demanded his release.
- Ukrainian journalist Irina Staroselets wrote on Facebook that she received threatening phone calls from Russian forces over her coverage of the invasion in Russian-occupied Kherson.
Russia detains, prosecutes journalists
- Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into blogger Veronika Belotserkovskaya on March 16 under the law outlawing “fake” news about the actions of the Russian army.
- Russian editor Marina Ovsyannikova was fined and released after staging an anti-war protest on the state-controlled broadcaster Channel 1 on March 14.
- In St. Petersburg, seven journalists were detained on March 13 while covering anti-war protests that have seen mass arrests.
Russia blocks news websites
- Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor continues blocking news sites, including Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot), Belarusian news site Euroradio, Netherlands-based investigative news site Bellingcat, the websites of the BBC and St. Petersburg-based Paper, and others. Russia also blocks Instagram and TJ, a news aggregator that had been used by Russians to get the latest news.
Russia launches attacks on Ukrainian news infrastructure
- On March 14, Russian airstrikes destroyed a TV tower in the Ukrainian city of Rivne, killing at least nine people and injuring nine others. Ukrainian authorities also said Russian missiles hit a TV tower in the central western Ukrainian town Vinnytsia on March 16, temporarily disrupting broadcasting.
- Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says Russia is launching cyberattacks to destroy TV and radio signals.
Foreign governments prevent Russian journalists from reaching safety
- An office manager for Dozhd TV (also known as TV Rain) was expelled from Kazakhstan and deported to Russia.
- Russian journalist David Frenkel, who works for independent media outlet Mediazona, was denied entry to Georgia.
Russia’s digital crackdown sparks tech workarounds
- Twitter creates a dark web version of its platform that could allow users to access the site even in countries where it has been blocked.
- Project Snowflake allows users around the globe to share their internet connection with anyone that is struggling to access the free and open internet.
February 28 – March 11, 2022
Journalists attacked, injured, killed while working in Ukraine
- RFE/RL Ukrainian Service journalist Maryan Kushnir, who was embedded with the Ukrainian troops, suffered a concussion during a Russian attack on Ukrainian forces in the town of Baryshivka, east of Kyiv, early March 11.
- On March 6, Russian troops shot at and robbed freelance Swiss journalist Guillaume Briquet near the village of Vodyano-Lorino, in southern Ukraine’s Nikolaev region, according to media reports, a photo the journalist posted on Facebook, and an interview he gave to French TV station BFM TV.
- Ukrainian camera operator Yevhenii Sakun was killed in the Russian shelling of Kyiv’s television tower on March 1.
- On February 28, Russian soldiers fired on a team from the British broadcaster Sky News near the village of Stoyanka, in the Kyiv region. The soldiers shot chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay in the lower back, as well as camera operator Richie Mockler, who was hit twice in his body armor; Ramsay was recuperating from his injuries and his life was not in danger.
Russia tightens restrictions on journalists, news outlets
- Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on March 10 approved the creation of a unified registry of individuals labeled as “foreign agents.” Previously, the Ministry of Justice kept two “foreign agent” registers: one for public associations and the other for mass media groups. The new legislation would create a third registry that could include current and former employees of foreign media outlets, their funders, and employees of domestic groups that receive foreign funding. The bill will be enacted if approved by the upper house of parliament and signed into law by the president.
- On March 4, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill imposing prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading “fake” news about the Ukraine war. The new law prompted several international news outlets to temporarily suspend work in Russia or pull their news staff from the country, including the BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, Italian state broadcaster RAI, Spanish news agency EFE, and The New York Times. Some later resumed operations.
- According to a 17-newsroom survey conducted by Russian independent journalism project Agentstvo, published March 7, at least 150 journalists left Russia after the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
Russian authorities detain journalists covering anti-war protests
- More than 5,000 people were detained on March 6 at Russian anti-war protests, including at least 14 journalists, according to news reports and CPJ coverage. Numerous journalists were detained, and some were charged, at protests the previous weekend, as CPJ documented.
Russia blocks news websites and social media