A man pushes his bicycle near a residential building partially destroyed by shelling in Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on June 16, 2022. (AFP/Sergei Chuzakov)

Russia-Ukraine watch

How the war is affecting press freedom in the region

Updated June 16, 2022

Russia’s February 24 full-scale invasion of Ukraine marked a sharp escalation in threats to press freedom in the region and beyond. Journalists in Ukraine have been killed covering the war, while many of their Russian counterparts have fled or faced persecution.

From mid-June 2022, CPJ has consolidated its coverage of how the war is impacting freedom of the press at the following link. For weekly coverage from February to June, see below.

June 10 – June 16, 2022

Russia sanctions journalists

Journalists in Ukraine under threat

  • Khrystyna Havryliuk and Taras Ibragimov, journalists with Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne, came under fire in the center of Lysychansk in western Ukraine, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) reported June 14. They were evacuated by Ukrainian Armed Forces and no one was injured.

  • Serhiy Horbatenko, a journalist with Radio Svoboda, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service, came under fire in the Donetsk region, NUJU reported June 11. He escaped unharmed.

Russia detains journalists

  • On Russia Day, June 12, Russian authorities arrested several people with the help of facial recognition technology, including journalist Evgeny Kurakin, who was released after presenting a press card and an editorial assignment, and independent news outlet SOTA correspondent Pyotr Ivanov, who was released later that day without charge, SOTA reported. Science journalist Asya Kazantseva was also detained and released that day without charge, according to news website Mediazona.

  • In Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, Aleksandr Kamenyuk and Igor Serchukov, public activists and journalists with the Kamchatka Region Agency, were detained, SOTA reported June 15. Kamenyuk’s flat was searched and Serchukov was detained for filming the arrest. The search was allegedly conducted as part of a criminal case on “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces,” according to multiple news reports.

  • A journalist from France 24 was detained in Shuya in the Ivanovo region of Russia for filming a “1984” book-distribution rally, SOTA reported June 16.

Russia continues to prosecute dealings with “foreign” entities, war coverage

  • On June 14, Russia’s State Duma passed in the first reading bills criminalizing cooperation with a foreign intelligence service, cooperation with an international or foreign organization, and the making of “public calls for activities against state security,” according to multiple news reports. The laws could have implications for journalists.

  • Journalist Aleksey Venediktov was previously declared a “foreign agent” because of his salary at now-shuttered Russian independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, according to multiple news reports June 10.

  • A Russian court fined Ilya Azar, a former journalist with the now-shuttered Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, 60,000 rubles (US$1,036) for discrediting the Russian army for an anti-war post on his personal Facebook page February 28, according to multiple news reports on June 10.

  • A Russian court seized property in the Gulf of Finland owned by journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov, according to multiple news reports June 10. 

Russian journalists counter censorship 

  • SOTA published a feature June 16 about anonymously run Russian media outlet We/My 2022, created by students in Kirov in central Russia in response to censorship and pressure on independent media. Unidentified people tried to hack it 106 times.

  • Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov said that the publication’s editorial board is preparing to launch an app and a YouTube channel as a way to resuscitate the shuttered newspaper, according to Meduza June 16. 

Ukrainian officials pressure journalists, prosecute RT director

  • The Ukrainian Commission on Journalistic Ethics published a statement June 14 expressing concern that “media representatives receive verbal bans on visiting the military on the front lines, and some politicians try to put pressure on journalists covering the war.”

  • The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case against Russian state media RT broadcasting director Anton Krasovsky under articles on public calls for genocide and violent seizure of power, Meduza reported June 15. 

Ukraine announces new lead in journalist disappearance case 

  • The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s General Office said that it is investigating a suspect in the eight-day abduction of journalist Oleh Baturyn in March. The suspect is a so-called “adviser to the head” of the Donetsk People’s Republic — the pro-Russian separatist area of eastern Ukraine — and leads an illegal armed group in the Kakhovka district of the Kherson region, the prosecutor’s office said. It said Baturyn was kidnapped because of his civic position and professional activities. 

Moldova detains journalist over war coverage

  • Editor of the information portal Gagauznews Nikolai Kostyrkin was detained in Moldova on June 9 and accused of “war propaganda” and “incitement of discord” before being released that day, according to the outlet. Law enforcement authorities claimed he “systematically disseminated propaganda elements aimed at supporting military aggression against Ukraine, as well as publishing information and statements calling for hatred and war” on social media.

Azerbaijan expels journalist 

  • Veronika Trizno, the Belarusian editor-in-chief of Russian state-owned Sputnik News agency, is being expelled from Azerbaijan, according to the trade group Belarusian Association of Journalists on June 10. 

U.S. tries to help Russians access Western media 

  • The U.S. increased funding through the Open Technology Fund and the U.S. Agency for Global Media to support three VPN (Virtual Private Network) companies that have seen outsized growth in users from Russia trying to access Western media, Reuters reported June 15.

  • The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) on June 10 warned that mass mailing lists of phishing emails “are [being] carried out, in particular, [against] Ukrainian media organizations (radio stations, newspapers, news agencies, and others).”

  • Online Russian news outlet Vyorstka Media was blocked by Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor a month and a half after its creation, according to the outlet June 14. 

  • Ukrainian journalist Ivan Antypenko published on his Twitter that there is no internet access in the Kherson region of Ukraine, according to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine on June 11. 

  • YouTube blocked the channels of Russian media group Red Square, according to SOTA June 11.

June 3 – June 9, 2022

Driver of journalists killed in Ukraine, journalists come under fire

  • Two Reuters correspondents, photographer Aleksandr Ermochenko and cameraman Pavel Klimov, were injured in a June 3 attack that killed their vehicle’s driver. The car and the unnamed driver were provided to the reporters by Russian-backed separatists for travel on the Russian-held part of the road between Sievierodonetsk and the town of Rubizhne in Ukraine, CPJ documented.

  • BBC correspondent Orla Gerin and her film crew came under fire, the broadcaster reported June 7. They escaped unharmed. 

Russia searches journalists’ home

  • Law enforcement officers searched the former home of Isabella Yevloyeva, the exiled editor of the news website Fortanga, in Sunzha, Russia. Previously, two criminal cases were opened against the journalist for publishing “fake” information about the Russian army, independent outlet SOTA reported June 7.

  • Olga Komarova, general director of the southern Siberia Altai republic newspaper Listok, told SOTA that authorities searched her home and seized her equipment, SOTA reported June 3. 

Russia passes new foreign agent legislation

  • The Russian State Duma passed in the first reading a bill that creates a unified register of foreign agents, to which authorities can add any journalist and media outlet subject to alleged “foreign influence” without proof that they received money from abroad, SOTA reported June 7.

  • Earlier in the week, Russia added more journalists and publicists to a list of media foreign agents, including Crimean citizen journalist Iryna Danilovich, SOTA reported June 3.

  • Alexei Venediktov, former head of now shuttered Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, filed a complaint against his inclusion in the register of media foreign agents, Russian news outlet Meduza reported. Journalist Yuri Dud, also registered as a foreign agent, is suing the Ministry of Justice to reverse the designation, SOTA reported the same day.

  • Exiled journalist Andrei Soldatov, who mainly writes about the Russian special services, said June 6 that the Interior Ministry had put him on the wanted list, according to multiple news reports. According to Meduza on June 8, Russia seized property belonging to Soldatov, as well as journalists Ruslan Leviev and Michael Nacke. Soldatov was charged with distributing “fakes” about the Russian military for an interview he gave to the YouTube channel “Popular Politics,” SOTA reported June 9.

Russia fines journalists, blocks news sites

  • Vadim Vostrov, a producer for  the Krasnoyarsk TV channel TVK was fined 4,000 rubles (US$66) for “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces” over a personal Telegram post, since deleted, where he cited an article from Meduza, reports said June 3.

  • On June 3, the Kirovsky District Court in the central city of Yekaterinburg fined the independent Vecherniye Vedomosti newspaper 150,000 rubles (US$2,415) for “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces” in its reporting on Telegram, CPJ documented.

  • On June 5, the Svetlogorsk City Court in the western Kaliningrad region ruled that a list of soldiers killed in Ukraine, published by the privately-owned Pskov-based news website 60.ru, constituted “classified information,” leading the website to take the list down to avoid facing criminal charges, CPJ documented

  • U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was fined another 20 million rubles for refusing to remove information about the war in Ukraine, Meduza reported June 6. Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor also blocked the website of Radio Azatutyun, the Armenian service of RFE/RL as well as the website of Finnish state broadcaster Yle, Meduza reported June 2. 

Latvia gives license to one formerly Russia-based outlet, blocks others

May 27 – June 2, 2022

French journalist killed, other journalists come under fire in Ukraine

  • Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, a reporter for French broadcast BFMTV, was reported killed on May 30, after an armored evacuation vehicle came under “enemy fire” as Russian troops entered the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, according to statements by BFMTV and Luhansk regional governor, Serhiy Haidai.

  • Ukrainian fixer and documentarian Mykola Pastukh was seriously injured when he came under shelling on May 28 while reporting with two foreign correspondents on the way from Lysychansk to the nearby city of Sievierodonetsk.

  • On May 28, journalists with Radio Svoboda, the Ukrainian-language service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) came under fire near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, according to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. They escaped unharmed but their car was damaged.

  • On May 29, during a live broadcast on 1+1 TV channel, journalist Oleksandr Zagorodniy and cameraman Ivan Holovach came under Russian fire on the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. They were unharmed, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine reported.

  • Ukrayinska Pravda published an extensive interview on May 30 with well-known Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov, who says Ukrainian authorities are keeping him from reporting on military units on the front line.

    Journalists in Russia detained, attacked 
  • Gleb Yakutov, a correspondent with Russian independent news outlet SOTA, was detained near the Moscow State University dormitory in Moscow, the outlet reported June 1. Police officers from the Akademicheskiy Police Department claim that he committed petty hooliganism.

Russia continues censoring journalists

  • June 3 marks 100 days of the war, which the Kremlin has forbidden state media to “focus” on, Meduza reported. The authorities fear the Russians will notice how the “special operation” has “dragged on.”

  • Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked sebeanus.online, a mirror website of St. Petersburg news outlet Bumaga, SOTA reported May 30.

  • The personal website of journalist Dmitry Kolezev, publisher of media website It’s My City and chief editor of magazine Republic, was blocked in Russia, Meduza reported May 28.

Russian state media face continued restrictions

  • Tik Tok blocked the account of Sputnik Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyzstan-focused branch of the Russian state-funded news agency Sputnik, Russian state news agency RIA reported.

  • The European Union has agreed on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia that will include a ban on three more Russian state media outlets, according to SOTA.

Editor’s note: The date that the 100th day of the war lands on has been corrected in the eighth paragraph of this section.

May 20 – 26, 2022

Ukrainian journalist dead; Russian and Belarusian journalists under threat

  • Ukrainian photojournalist and blogger Ihor Hudenko, who lost contact with his friends and family while in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on February 26, died that day but his death was not made public until May 20. CPJ is investigating whether he was killed due to his journalism.

  • On May 17, Belarusian human rights group Viasna made public the more than two-month-long detention in Belarus of journalist Dzmitry Luksha, a freelance journalist with the Kazakh state-funded television station Khabar 24. He was charged March 11 with allegedly discrediting the Republic of Belarus and organizing or participating in gross violations of public order, likely in connection to his latest reporting on Belarus’ alleged involvement alongside Russia in the war in Ukraine.

  • On May 18, the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) in Minsk detained Konstantin Zalatykh, director of the independent business newspaper Belarusy y Rynok, chief editor Andrei Aleksandrovich, and accountant Yulia Kahno. Zalatykh, whose technical equipment was confiscated, was charged with “incitement of national, racial, religious, or social hatred.” Aleksandrovich and Kahno were both released later that day.

  • On Wednesday, May 18, the Basmanny Court in Moscow ordered the “arrest in absentia,” a legal term used when the defendant is not in court, of Ruslan Leviev, founder of the Russian independent investigative project Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), on the charge of violating Russia’s March law outlawing the distribution of “fake” information about the military. On May 24, the same court issued the same arrest order for video blogger Michael Nacke, who had featured Leviev’s journalism on his YouTube channel, on the same charge. The two, who are both living outside of Russia and are now listed on Russia’s international wanted list, were charged in relation to their journalism. 

Russians abroad look for tech workarounds to censorship

  • Civil society groups are organizing a hackathon to be held May to June 2022 with the Russian diaspora to overcome Internet censorship, create technical workarounds to blockings, and to ensure more secure communication and network anonymity in Russia.

  • Cybersecurity firm Nisos released a May 2022 report alleging that a subcontractor for Russia’s Federal Security Service has created a botnet, a system of interconnected bots, named “Fronton,” which is capable of manipulating trending topics on social media platforms as well as launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites. Nisos concluded that “Fronton is a system developed for coordinated inauthentic behavior on a massive scale.”

  • YouTube has removed tens of thousands of videos and nearly 9,000 channels for violations of the company’s content guidelines in relation to the war in Ukraine, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, under Twitter’s new “crisis misinformation policy,” as of May 19 the company no longer recommends posts with misleading claims about the Russian-Ukrainian war and adds warning labels to previously debunked claims, NPR reports.
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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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 

  • 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

  • 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.”

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.

  • 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. 

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). 

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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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 killed for their work in Ukraine

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.

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.

  • 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.

  •  VPN downloads soar in Russia, with the top 10 VPN apps collectively reaching 4.2 million installs between February 24 through March 13, up 2,286% from the prior period.
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.

  • For more details on these and other attacks, see CPJ’s news alerts here and here.

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.

  • 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

  • Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked more than 20 news websites on March 6, including regional and Ukrainian sites. This was in addition to numerous Russian and foreign-based sites, as well as Twitter and Facebook, that were blocked the previous week, as CPJ documented.