Paris, April 6, 2022 — Russian authorities should release Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Khilyuk immediately and stop detaining members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
Russian soldiers detained Khilyuk in the village of Kozarovychi, north of Kyiv, in early March, according to the Media Initiative Group for Human Rights, a local press group, and a relative of the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
On March 1, Khilyuk, a reporter for the independent Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, had written that Russian troops were occupying his village in a post on his personal Facebook page, where he frequently posts commentary on current events and has about 450 followers.
“Russian forces must release Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Khilyuk, and should stop their practice of detaining members of the press at once,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian authorities have repeatedly abducted Ukrainian journalists covering their invasion of the country, and these attempts at intimidating and stifling the press must cease immediately.”
The relative, who asked that her name not be published to protect her privacy, told CPJ that Khilyuk called her on March 3 and said Russian soldiers had searched the home he shared with his parents, seized their phones and SIM cards, and looked at Khilyuk’s posts on social media.
After the March 3 search, Khilyuk’s home was hit by a Russian missile, forcing him and his parents to spend the night with their neighbors, according to the journalist’s relative and the Media Initiative Group for Human Rights.
That relative told CPJ that she lost contact with Khilyuk after March 3, and local residents in Kozarovychi told her that the journalist and his father were detained at a Russian base near their home on about March 4. CPJ was not able to immediately determine the exact date that Khilyuk was detained.
Russian forces accused Khilyuk, who covers the Ukrainian legal system and high-profile court cases, of communicating with the Ukrainian military and law enforcement agencies, according to the Media Initiative Group for Human Rights.
Russian authorities released Khilyuk’s father on March 10, and then took the remaining detainees, including Khilyuk, to the nearby town of Dymer, according to the journalist’s relative and the Media Initiative Group for Human Rights, which said other captives who were later released recognized Khilyuk among people being held in a Dymer office building.
The journalist’s relative told CPJ on April 5 that she had received no updates on Khilyuk’s status, and was in “complete uncertainty and despair.”
Russian forces have repeatedly detained members of the press since invading Ukraine in February; at least two other journalists—Oleksandr Gunko and Iryna Dubchenko—remain in Russian custody.
CPJ emailed Russian and Ukrainian Ministries of Defense for comment but did not receive any replies.