New York, March 20, 2022 – The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn and renews calls for anyone with information about the whereabouts of missing reporter Viktoria Roshchina to come forward immediately, CPJ said in a statement Sunday.
Baturyn was missing for eight days after he went to meet an unidentified person at the bus station near his home in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Kakhovka. His wife told CPJ he left after receiving a phone call from an acquaintance in the nearby town of Novaya Kakhovka and that he would be gone for about 20 minutes.
Roshchina disappeared on March 12 and is believed to be held by Russian forces in Ukraine, according to her employer, independent channel Hromadske TV. Hromadske said Roshchina had been covering hot spots in eastern and southern Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale attack on Ukraine February 24.
“CPJ calls on Russian and Ukrainian authorities to investigate Baturyn’s apparent kidnapping and to intensify their efforts to find Roshchina,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director. “Journalists are civilians who put their lives at risk to provide accurate reporting on this devastating conflict. They should never be taken captive by any military force.”
The release of Baturyn, a reporter for the Ukrainian newspaper Novyi Den, was first announced Sunday in a Facebook posting by his sister Olga Perepelitsya. Serhiy Tomilenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, reported that he spoke to Baturyn after he returned home.
Perepelitsya’s Facebook message, posted in Ukrainian and identified as coming from Baturyn, did not identify his captors but said that in nearly eight days of captivity he was humiliated and threatened with execution.
Of his conditions during captivity, he said: “Practically without food. Almost without water for a few days. No soap, no changing clothes. Not knowing where I am. But they clearly knew what for. They wanted to break, trample. To show what will happen to every journalist: you will be distributed. You will be killed.”
Editor’s note: The sixth paragraph in this statement has been corrected to reflect that Perepelitsya posted her Facebook message in Ukrainian, not English.