Paris, April 4, 2022 – Russian authorities should immediately release journalist Oleksandr Gunko and stop detaining Ukrainian members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On Sunday, April 3, Russian soldiers in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Nova Kakhovka searched Gunko’s home, seized his phones and electronic devices, and took him to an undisclosed location, according to news reports and a Facebook post by Sergei Tomilenko, the head of the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists.
Gunko is a poet and the chief editor of the Nova Kakhovka City news website, which has covered rallies in the city against the Russian invasion, according to reports.
“Russian forces must release Ukrainian journalist Oleksandr Gunko at once and cease all attempts to harass members of the press,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Russian authorities must allow members of the press to cover the war in Ukraine freely and without fear of arbitrary detention.”
Journalist Maxim Birovash wrote on Facebook that two cars arrived at Gunko’s home and took him away, and that the journalist’s fate was unknown.
Russian forces have occupied Nova Kakhovka since late February, according to reports. Tomilenko wrote that Nova Kakhovka City had previously received an email from an undisclosed source that offered to cooperate with the outlet if it covered events “in the right way.”
CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian Ministries of Defense for comment but did not receive any replies.