Iryna Danylovych has been missing in Crimea since April 29. (Photo: Andrii Zubariev)

Iryna Danylovych missing in Crimea, unidentified men search family’s home

Paris, May 3, 2022 – Russian authorities in Crimea must immediately disclose any information concerning the whereabouts of journalist Iryna Danylovych, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On the morning of April 29, Danylovychfailed to return home from her work at a medical center in the village of Vladyslavivka, in Russian-occupied Crimea, according to her father, Bronislav Danylovych, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and a report by the Ukrainian human rights organization Zmina.

At about 10 a.m., six men arrived at the home Danylovych shares with her parents in Vladyslavivka, searched it and confiscated the family’s laptops and phones, and told her parents that she had been placed under detention for 10 days for allegedly sending information to a foreign country, according to those sources.

Bronislav Danylovych said the men did not identify themselves, drove unmarked cars, and refused his request to show any court documents authorizing the search or his daughter’s detention. He told CPJ on May 2 that he had received no updates on her daughter’s status, and had no idea where she was.

“Iryna Danylovych’s alarming disappearance prompts fears of yet another clampdown on independent reporting in Russian-occupied Crimea, which is already an extremely restrictive environment for the press,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Russian authorities in Crimea must immediately come forward with any information regarding Danylovych’s whereabouts, and let the media work freely.”

Danylovych’s family filed a report to the Crimean prosecutor’s office about her disappearance, Zmina head Tetiana Pechonchyk told CPJ via email. Bronislav Danylovych said the police came to their home on May 2 to investigate his daughter’s disappearance, and did not provide any new information.

Danylovych works at the medical center in Vladyslavivka and also contributes to the local news websites InZhir Media and Crimean Process, according to Pechonchyk.

She contributed articles covering local news to InZhir Media under the pseudonym “Pavel Buranov,” according to Andrii Zubariev, director of the human rights organization Human Rights House Crimea, who is familiar with her work and communicated with CPJ via messaging app.

CPJ was unable to find any articles attributed to “Pavel Buranov” published on InZhir Media after February 1, 2022, and was unable to find any articles attributed to Danylovych at Crimean Process.

Bronislav Danylovych told CPJ that his daughter’s detention may be linked to her posting information on social media about Russian troop movements in Crimea. CPJ was unable to find examples of such posts on Danylovych’s accounts.

In her most recent post on her personal Facebook account, on March 5, Danylovych reposted information about Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s decision to suspend its coverage of the war in Ukraine. Previously, on February 25, she reposted information from the Ukrainian armed forces about Russian losses during the invasion. CPJ reviewed screenshots of those Facebook posts; her account has since been set to private.

Danylovych also ran a Facebook discussion group for medical workers in Crimea, according to Pechonchyk.

Bronislav Danylovych told CPJ that he does not know much about her daughter’s journalistic activities, adding, “but I know that she is a journalist.”

“At home, we discuss the fact that she is regularly engaged in journalistic activities,” he said.

CPJ called the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Crimea for comment, but the call did not connect.

[Editor’s note: The 11th paragraph has been updated to correct Novaya Gazeta’s status, and the text has been changed throughout to use a different romanization of Danylovych’s name.]